Karen Kelly is a character in the HBO television series Avenue 5, portrayed by actress Rebecca Front. Kelly illicitly boards the Avenue 5 using her sister's non-transferable ticket and eventually becomes the voice of the passengers, enjoying her newfound power.
HBO describes the character as a "born leader" who is "strong-willed, articulate," and "likeable." However, as the first season goes on she reveals herself to also be rude and entitled as well as something of a gossip.
Karen is a middle-aged woman with short brown hair and green eyes; possibly part of Generation Z. She isn't overly tall however is usually seen in heels.
Directly after the gravity shift causes everyone on board to be thrown to one side of the ship Karen jumps into action. She instantly starts to demand information and learn what is going on even if it means getting herself into restricted areas. She overhears the conversation between Captain Ryan Clark, Herman Judd, his personal assistant, Iris Kimura and Second Engineer Billie McEvoy in which they discus being knocked off course and an extra three years travel time. As soon as she has this information Karen starts to spread it to the passengers.
She later shows little to no respect for Joe by insisting that she would be checking up for every scrap of information right after the crew had buried him in space. She further learns that there had been new calculations performed which suggested journey time would actually only be six months from Captain Clark, this she again tells to all her fellow passengers.
In I'm a Hand Model Clark realizes just how much sway Karen has with the rest of the passengers and speaks with her about becoming his liaison between himself and everyone else. She quickly approves of this as she likes the thrill of power it gives her though she never openly admits to it. Karen and Clark share a drink where he lets it slip that he is English and worse, not really a captain, Karen doesn't take this well and ends up almost hyperventilation for a few moments as she incoherently swears. She soon calms down though and accepts her new job happily.
In Was It Your Ears? Karen is seen in Clark's cabin talking about Herman Judd's idiocy with Clark and Billie. Karen is quite happy to keep suggesting murder but this is more driven by the fact that Judd was the main force to get Frank chucked out the airlock at the Half Way Home Party than she actually wants to start killing. A short time later and still not dressed, Karen is informed by Iris that they could be leaking oxygen. The group quickly quieten her down and get her to cover her mouth with her hand as she accuses the ship of being made of tinfoil.
She orchestrates a meeting between the crew and passengers - specifically Mia - so they can air their grievances with Judd but he is fairly dismissive of Mia's request for her own cabin and Karen's want of an apology for almost getting her husband killed. Instead Karen is forced to sit their and listen to Judd's new idea to make the ring of excrement a positive thing and stop Matt Spencer trying to steal her coffee. The conversation turns then to the air issue and how best to handle it, this conversation yields little to no helpful solution.
Right after the meeting she, Billie, Iris and Clark all talk about sedating Judd to try and get some sane control over the ship. She and the others listen to Rav Mulcair's report about having gotten aid funding but her communication breaks up half way through her telling them about the 'other president's' suggestion that they kill five hundred non-essential personnel. She then learns, along with the others, that Judd had kicked Doug out of his cabin and that her husband had been kind enough to let Doug shower in their cabin. She accuses Doug of using Frank as a 'toilet friend'.
After Clark gets the pills from Matt she tries to take them but Clark doesn't let her since she's likely to kill Judd like she'd been suggestion semi-constantly. Clark manages to spike Judd's drink when they all gather in her office later but Judd never drinks it. Then Billie announces that their isn't an oxygen leak and Judd lights up the ring of excrement which actually ends up being rather beautiful.
As part of her new role aboard the Avenue 5, Karen takes it upon herself to oversee everything that is to be donated for jettison. She rejects one woman's offer of two pairs of heels and instead decides to force the woman's husband to give up his only pair of shoes instead, however, accepts a woman donation of her child's rabbit a few moments later.
Later when the passengers become convince they're still on Earth and could just walk out the airlock Karen, along with Clark, Billie and Spike, try to convince people that they are in space and would die if they went outside but the mob doesn't listen and it eventually results in seven passengers' deaths.
While everyone searches for Matt Spencer, Karen and Iris are sent to carry on gathering things to be tossed out the ship. Karen proves herself to be extraordinary good at convincing people to part with things when she gets a woman to give up her weights instead of just the stands by saying she'd thrown Captain Clark's rowing machine out. This gives Iris Kimura the perfect opportunity to question Karen as to whether she and Clark really had been sleeping together, Karen replies with 'I'd prefer a little less bitching and a little more ditching' which Iris just accepts; this is also the first time Karen swears properly. With Iris' help they take Judd's horse statue and drag the heavy item slowly down the halls until they run into Rav Mulcair, Karen tries to get her to listen to her list of grievances but Rav just snaps back with a comment that makes it clear the rumors about Karen and Clark having a relationship have indeed reached Earth.
Once she's jettison all the junk items it is revealed that she used the port side airlocks instead of the rear airlocks knocking them even further off course. As a result she has increased the extra journey time to eight years rather than three and a half, this horrifies her and she breaks down in tears while begging her husband to do something horrid so everyone would hate him again instead of her. Frank actually tries to remind people of the time he pushed the button and the wetsuit ruptured but no one pays him any mind.
Karen is married to Frank Kelly, a man fairly submissive to her and who she easily keeps under her thumb. Despite this she does genuinely love and care for her husband and appears to have been married for many successful years. Frank is always quick to verbally challenge anyone who insults or argues with his wife, though he doesn't appear to have the skill, wherewithal or want to make that challenge physical.
In He's Only There To Stop His Skeleton Falling Over, after the wetsuit has been somewhat dealt with Karen goes straight to Ryan Clark to have him make sure the passengers know the problem wasn't Frank's fault. During the same episode Frank starts to wonder if Karen has feeling for or is secretly sleeping with Ryan Clark due to a few comments she makes and because she is in his cabin when he calls her. He tries to displace this by suggesting Clark and Billie McEvoy are a couple but this only makes his suspicions worse. After a confrontation with Clark in which he punches the captain, Frank and Karen seem to return to their normal, happy marriage.
Ryan Clark and Billie McEvoy
Karen's relationship with Clark and Billie lingers on the line between friendship and co-workers. After Clark lets it slip that he isn't a real captain and asks Karen to act as his liaison to the passengers, the three form a sort of conspiratory group who discuss the real facts and problems with the Avenue 5 in private. The first clear indication of this is in Was It Your Ears? when the three are all seen in Clark's cabin discussing what to do about Judd and his increasing recklessness. Their relationship is not built out of common respect for one another or affection but necessity and the fact they are probably the only three people aboard the ship who can both deal with the situation and not have a complete public breakdown.
- "F me. F me with a CB." (Karren to Clark)
- "Sounds like salty talk." (Karen to Clark)
- "You may eat that." (Karen to Frank)
- HBO. Armando Iannucci to Bring Humor to Space with ‘Avenue 5’ hbo.com. Retrieved on November 24, 2019.