Pan Am isn’t Mad Men, Thankfully

Posted on September 26, 2011

Like a lot of people who pay attention to these sorts of things, we rolled our eyes a bit when this television season’s two Mad Men ripoffs, The Playboy Club and Pan Am, were announced. We immediately declared the former not interesting to us (and judging by the reviews, we were right on that one), but admitted that our interest was piqued for the latter. We noted at the time that both shows had a somewhat unnerving undertone of romanticizing a time when women were expected to be nothing but a subservient visual treat to men. We weren’t exactly wrong on that last point but Pan Am at least has a little more going on than lovingly depicting Camelot-era gender roles.

The show immediately (and repeatedly) makes the point that being a Pan Am stewardess isn’t just glamorous, it’s also a way for women of the period to take some control of their destiny, see the world, and put off the shackles of marriage for a little while longer. Of course you could say the same thing about entering a convent – with the added bonus of not having to be submitted to weight and girdle checks – but Pan Am rather deftly avoids delving too deep into social commentary and frankly, the show is better for it. Is this feminism? No. This is escapism; glossy, glorious, technicolor escapism with a little bit of sex and a little bit of Cold War-era spying to sweeten the pot.

In one hour of television we’re treated to scenes set in New York, Havana, Rome, and London and introduced to the 4 main characters. Christina Ricci’s Maggie is a beatnik living in the village who recently got suspended for violating the girdle rule (which sounds like a euphemism for something); Laura is the sweet and inexperienced stewardess who ran out of her own wedding with the help of her sister Kate, who is the more experienced stewardess and, unbeknownst to her cohorts, working for U.S. Intelligence as a spy; and Colette is the sexually free (of course) French girl who learns in this episode what happens to girls who sleep with married men. These are all very broad character types – rebel, virgin, smart girl, libertine – but that’s perfect for an introduction. You get who these characters are with a minimum of introduction and the combination of character types makes for potentially interesting stories and interactions. There’s also – and we admit, we might be too optimistic here – the promise that all of this will be built up; that none of these 4 characters will necessarily stay within the box provided for them.

Christina Ricci is surprisingly under-utilized in this episode but in retrospect, it makes sense. She would have sucked all the oxygen out of the room and rendered every other character in a supporting role had they put the focus on her in the pilot episode. Instead, she’s the brightly lit background character at the moment; the one who’s not driving the action or given a major scene but manages to garner most of the attention simply by virtue of being the biggest star in the cast. It’s too early to say who else in the cast is going to shine, but Kate and Laura got the most screen time this episode and did the most with it. Laura’s perhaps a bit too unsure of herself to be interesting yet, but Kate’s quite the pistol and we were surprised by how effectively tense the “spying” scenes were. You’d expect a show like this to be nothing but sex and soap opera plotlines – and to be fair, it mostly is so far – but the spying subplot, which we originally pegged as silly when we first heard of it, actually deepens the show and makes it more interesting.

Social commentary and historical context seem largely absent outside of sets and costumes (and not even then, in some cases). Hopefully, without sounding like we’re championing the depiction of a lily-white world of pre-feminism, we think that’s largely for the best. Mad Men does a fantastic job of exploring in great depth the ennui and angst of the mid 20th Century, as well as highlighting the enormous differences between Now and Then while also drawing a line connecting the two. Pan Am doesn’t seem remotely interested in doing such a thing. In the entire hour, we think we saw only one or two people smoking. Contrast that with the first episode of Mad Men, which could have been sponsored by Febreze, so loaded with smoke and ashtrays was it. Accuracy as to the social mores of the day is only going to get lip service here. The focus is on big soapy plots, glamorous locations, and pretty clothes. This isn’t a dark, occasionally depressing look at the sixties, this is a brightly lit, candy colored CGI version of the decade and so long as they keep it light, we’re fine with that. It’s okay to have a little fun with the decade and it’s even okay to make accuracy a backseat concern. We have no doubt that the show will do its best to tip its hat to the downsides of living in a pre-Civil Rights, pre-Women’s Lib era, but it doesn’t seem to want to make that the focus of the show and to be honest, if they did make the attempt, we have a feeling the whole conceit would collapse.

And with that hilariously glossy and glamorous final shot of the four leads doing their very best slow motion version of a (literal) runway walk, the message of this pilot comes through loud and clear: This isn’t Mad Men; these are Fab Women.

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  • Anonymous

    I totally disagree.  The 4 main female characters are not distinguishable from one another.  Each one of them is bland and boring.  The male characters are also non-discript and boring.  Visually the show is great, and it is very stylish…but there’s no meat there.  I will keep giving the show a try, but I was totally let down.  My expectations were high, and they didn’t even come close.

    • Sobaika Mirza

      I know what you mean, but this was a pilot for ABC. It was obvious it wasn’t going to be ground-breaking right off the bat. I’m hoping for some more layers in upcoming episodes.

    • I agree that the four ladies were too much the same type. The same general description would apply to all of them. Only Christina Ricci stood out from the rest because she has a distinctive look and we already know her. The same goes for the pilots. I wasn’t sure who was who for the first half of the show. But it’s promising and I’ll keep it on the record schedule for now.

      • They’re the same type but that’s appropriate- the airline would have wanted their stewardesses to fit a pattern

        • I remember when stewardesses were cookie cutter, but for the sake of keeping their stories straight, it would have been nice to have some variety within that mold. Only the mysterious Bridget really looks different from the others.

  • lilibetp

    Loved it!  I’ve seen the premiers of several new shows in the last week and this definitely was the best of the bunch.

  • I surprisingly loved this. I love Christina Ricci, and I loved this era so I really wanted to like it. The Playboy Club was too silly for me, but this show surprisingly had really interesting characters and I’m always worried about Cold War/Spying plots but this one really worked for me. I’m looking forward to seeing all 4 girls characters develop

  • Anonymous

    Way, way more entertaining than I thought it would be. I wasn’t even going to watch it but since TLo were excited and I generally agree with their taste, I watched and I thought it was the funnest thing I have seen in a long time. It’s not Mad Men authentic and frankly, I am glad that it’s not trying to be like that show. All I know is that it made me happy.

  • I was not planning to watch this show, but ended up giving it a try. I was surprised to find it was pretty good. Hope it continues to stay interesting. I agree, the spy subplot is the best part…that and the white gloves!

  • I think they did a pretty good job of setting up the season and introducing the characters. I know my husband, an airline employee for over 20 years, was hoping for a bit more of a glimpse of how air travel was back then, but hopefully as the season progresses he will not be disappointed.

  • Anonymous

    I missed it.  Is it going to be available on Hulu or on demand?

  • The intense focus on 60s details makes the show overly self-conscious and at odds with how the pilots were presented (too young, hair too long for the blond one).  

    I also was not expecting much and it was a bit better than I thought it would be. The spy sub-plot was very tense but at the end, all I could think was that I hope she’s getting paid for this.
    If the show settles down during the season and becomes less “we’re glamourous retro vintage” and more actual plots with interesting characters, I’ll be watching. But I’m not hopeful.

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed it too, liked the tone of the show and am interested to see where it goes from here. 

    I think we only have a taste for each of the lead female characters…with only 1 episode to go by, to soon to pigeon hole them into their roles.  Kate, the “spy” while perhaps expected to be the confident and experienced one, has shown to be nervous and bumbling,  Laura may surprise us and be the stronger sister.  The men…really not much of a clue who they are, yet.  I was a bit disappointed in not seeing more of Christina’s character have more air time, but reading TLo’s perspective on why, it was probably good for the show and others.  I agree and will be patient.

    I loved the wife of Colette’s lover….so cool and proper but dang if she didn’t throw savvy Colette for a loop.  A sign of the times…today’s woman would go all Jerry Springer on the cheaters. 

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I figured the wife knew something was going on.

      However, I do wish Colette had been able to get a good zinger in as a response to the know like “please remind your husband to wear his wedding ring on when he’s cheating on you?” 

      • Terence Ng

        I thought the same thing! I immediately thought she should have said, “Well, please tell your husband that it’s courteous to say that he’s married when he’s sleeping with other women.”

      • Me too! I wanted her to come back with a great line. Then wondered if there was something wrong with me because I wanted her to say something. I’m glad to know that I am in good company.

  • I really enjoyed it. I saw more new shows than usual this season, and this one was my favorite. The set and costumes are fantastic and a treat to watch. I’m very intrigued by the mystery surrounding Bridgette, but it is a little soapy. I liked the relationship between the sisters. My only problem was the new captain seemed a little young, especially for someone flying a brand new plane. Wouldn’t that go to the pilot with the most seniority? It wasn’t too annoying that I couldn’t look past it though. I watch too much Glee to be phased by nonsensical plot details now.

    • I thought that the pilots and navigator seemed too young too. I guess I’ve seen “Airplane!” too many times and expect a pilot with a Peter Graves look.

      • Especially since the pilots at the time were mostly over 40 vets.

  • I’m gonna pull a Nina and say I was bored. And I really was.

  • Anonymous

    I think the reason this succeeds where Playboy Club does not is, with Playboy Club, the real thing is waaay more interesting. Hugh Hefner is a self-made icon who was on the cutting edge of pushing social mores – and not for nothing but watching decades old episodes of the TV show Playboy After Dark is so much more interesting and entertaining than anything on TV today, they’re not even in the same medium. If you’ve never seen Playboy after Dark, you can see some clips on YouTube.

    With Pan Am, there are no icons of memory and nothing of substance to live up to. That leaves a lot of space for the writers to create something out of nothing.


  • Anonymous

    I missed it, too, but I see it’s available online at  I’ve been meaning to give it a try.  I still remember, as a child in the early 60s, giving my college-student babysitter slaps on her girdled behind; she must have been a size 0, but of course all respectable young ladies be-girdled themselves.  And those things were like cast iron; slapping my babysitter hurt me far more than it hurt her! 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I remember those girdles. My mother and grandmother wore them and I remember wanting one so badly (when I was about 8). That was before pantyhose, and I still I was wearing fishnets with a garter belt in 4th grade. Sounds weird to say now in 2011, where people their twisted ideas onto what kids innocently wear, but if you wanted anything other than leotards you wore garter belts and hose. We all were.


      • MilaXX

        I remember hating those garter belts.

        • I was going to say garter belts were the worst, but they couldn’t possibly be as bad as girdles. Thank God pantyhose were around by the time I started wearing stockings on a regular basis.

          • See, my mom always talks about the awful days before pantyhose, but I only wear a garter belt and stockings now.  And she thinks I’m nuts.  I’ve tried to explain that it’s far more practical to be able to replace a single leg when they run, and that the ones I own aren’t like the awful, uncomfortable old school kind, but she said she’s scarred for life from them:)

          • It’s totally more practical, and I imagine that, these days, a garter belt is probably more comfortable than pantyhose. I think I might be scarred for life too.

            My sister wears thigh-highs, because she’s expected to dress well for work and she does not do pantyhose. I’ve tried them, but 1) they don’t stay up, and 2) her thighs are smaller than mine. They just don’t work for me.

            Lucky for me, it’s not an issue, and hasn’t been for many years. I don’t work anymore, and just about the only time I have to think about pantyhose is when I go to a wedding. So, pretty much every couple of years.

          • The trick with pantyhose is to wear the same color by the same manufacturer. If you get a run, you don’t throw them away. You cut off the bad leg and wait until you get a run in the other leg of another pair. Then you wear the good legs from each pair at the same time. It’s an extra waistband but saves $$.

    • Anonymous

      My aunt and mother wore their industrial strength girdles religiously (well into their 70s) and when I was 5, I wanted to wear one so badly, I bugged my teenage cousin to lend me one; I ran around all day at home in my underwear and borrowed girdle. Of course my family documented it for posterity; I still have the photos. Different times to be sure.

    • Anonymous

      I own a vintage girdle and longline bra and I have no clue how the hell women wore those things all the time. The bra especially baffles me; I mean, women stuffed them so they were the proper bullet shape, right? Mine is a size smaller than I usually wear and I had to cram it full of tissues and chicken cutlets just to fill it!

      • I think womens’ boobs changed to fit the bras. I remember seeing an article online somewhere that was a photo retrospective of the Playmates of the Year from the start of Playboy until now, focusing on how standards of beauty have changed over time. I recall that the early 1960s playmate had torpedo-looking boobs. 

    • I’ve never had to wear a girdle (Thank God — and I wouldn’t have cared how tacky, I wouldn’t have put on anything that miserable!  I can’t even wear control top pantyhose or Spanx if I plan to eat anything because it makes me physically ill.)  but I’m still confused as to why women went from corsets to girdles.  I’ve worn corsets MANY times, and they aren’t bad at all — in fact, better than the aforementioned Spanx in my book.  Why would you switch from something that was more comfortable and did a better job?

      • In my opinion, while I adore corsets, they tend to be more high maintenance, at least in my own experiences. I never quite mastered the doorknob trick, so I always have to have someone lace me into it. A gal can get into a girdle herself, which is perfect when you’re on the go.

  • W A

    Having not actually paid attention to the advertisements for this all over New York, I thought Pan Am had been resurrected and they were using Christina Ricci as celebrity endorsement.

  • Anonymous

    I kinda loved this, as did my partner. My expectations were middling, and his were slightly higher, but the show managed to exceed mine and at least meet his.

    It’s a feast for the eyes and junk food for the brain, but junk food has its place, in moderation. A very enjoyable way to bring the weekend to a close.

  • Sobaika Mirza

    It was light and frothy, and I guess it’ll make for a good watch on a Sunday night. And I get that it was the pilot so we’re not going to get a lot of depth there. But I’m afraid (especially after that ridiculous final ten minutes) that I’ll be uncomfortable watching such a glossy version of the 60s for too long. What’s great about Mad Men is that is celebrates and tears down the idyllic image most people have of the time period.

    • Full disclosure: I haven’t seen this yet, and I don’t know if I will, so I don’t know how bad it was. But my mom has been working with a woman who was a stewardess for PanAm in the sixties, and she loved it, for all the reasons mentioned in the post: it was a great way to break free of everything that was expected of her, and she got paid to see the world. Plus, they needed to have a college degree, so she was working with all these smart, highly educated women. Obviously, because of this it wasn’t a viable option for most women (I mean, for one thing they were all white, and there was also a height requirement: my 5’5″ sister would’ve been too short, as would the 5’1″ Christina Ricci), but for those who were lucky enough to qualify, it was a pretty great life. So if you’re going to do an escapist view of the sixties, this is possibly the best lens to do that through.

      • My husband is a pilot, and when we met, one of the things we discovered we had in common immediately was a love of flying.  I said I had always wanted to be a stewardess — but only if I could go back and be a stewardess and not a flight attendant.  I know, women were treated badly as a rule in the time, but the glamour of it is very appealing nonetheless.

      • And they also had to be fluent in at least one other language, correct? They sound like some pretty badass women to be around during that time period! It kind of makes the spying subplot realistic. 

      • Rachelle Neame

        I do enjoy how clearly intelligent the women on this show are, and the fact that they know that they are hired not solely for their looks, but also for their education and fluency in other languages. 

  • Anonymous

    As I said on the FB page, I forgot to watch this episode! I’ve actually been looking forward to it, remembering Pan Am from my childhood days. Isn’t that weird? I’ll have to make sure to watch next week, but I hate missing the first episode(s). It’s for that reason I never watched Lost.

    • Sobaika Mirza

      PLEASE rent Lost on DVD, if only for the first season. You will not regret it.

      • Noelle Haland

        Heck, if only for the PILOT of Lost!  That was one of the best pilots ever.

  • Blech. I laughed through most of it. Some of the acting – particularly from the men – was atrocious. Whenever the “Russian Spy” was shown I shouted “Moose and Squirrel!” The Bay of Pigs scene was HILarious. And there was the blatant conversation in the “pub” about “the new breed of woman” that was so obvious it was cringe-worthy. By the end, it really DID feel like it had taken six hours.

  • Anonymous

    I made it through the first half but found it to be too much cotton candy to grab me.  The Hour, a great 6-part series (mini-series?) on BBC America that I just finished, while flawed, was a terrific 6-episodes that did some great period stuff (mid-50s) with wonderful character development.  Perhaps having just finished that confounding but literate and enjoyable show and thus comparing it to this network confection was too much weight for Pan Am to support.  I know you have to give pilots some breathing room, but I was not feeling tempted to stick around to see if they actually do develop any of the characters in PanAm, whereas I was transfixed and often surprised by the rich character development of The Hour.  So, I guess I’m saying if you are looking for a Mad Menesque fix, The Hour is a much more literate period show (that suffers a bit from an unnecessary spy subplot) that is reasonably comparable to the fabulous writing and character development of Mad Men.  PanAm is more like Desperate Housewives shoe-horned into the period.

    • I enjoyed Pan-Am’s lightness. It’s funny because The Hour was highly criticised here for being historically-inaccurate, having a soapy, unbelievable plot and underdeveloped characters. I enjoyed it (hello, Ben Wishaw!), but it did take a while to find its footing, and I do love 50s interiors. It’s strange how opinions of programmes can change from country to country.

  • Judy_J

    I was looking forward to Pan Am, but after watching the first episode, I’m less enthusiastic.  I’ll give it another shot, but it just seemed to me to be a bit too cliched and contrived.  I did enjoy the clothes and hairstyles, and the air travel scenes made me wax nostalgic for the days when taking a trip on an airplane was so very civilized and actually enjoyable. Even in coach you had leg room and meals.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, but you also had smoking.  In a sealed tube with recirculated air. I don’t miss that at all.

      • Judy_J

        I don’t miss the cigarette smoke, either.  But I do miss not having to sit shoulder to shoulder in a cramped space with barely enough room to cross your legs. 

        • Anonymous

          I know what you mean. And I’m only 5’2″; I always wonder how tall people can tolerate it.

          • I’m 5’11” with back problems. Sometimes I sit at an angle while wondering why the space between seats isn’t long enough for the femur of a person under 6′. Sometimes I just cry.

          • Judy_J

            And heaven help you if the person seated directly in front of you decides to recline their seat.  I’ve been penned in by a tray table in the down position on more than one occasion.

  • MilaXX

    This is the first new show of the season that I have really liked. I wasn’t expecting much since the lead in show is Desperate Housewives, but it’s good enough that I will be back next week. I also checked out The Playboy Club and as expected it wasn’t that great. I swear since 3rd Watch Eddie Cibrian has sucked in every show he’s in.

  • Alison Jimenez

    YAWN. Ready for Season 5 of Mad Men now.

  • Anonymous

    I thought Pan Am was fun and very watchable.   Nothing deep, but good tv. I’m sure they’ll come up with some villains, but I liked how all of the main cast was fairly laid back and likeable in the first episode.  I guess that can be seen as boring, but I thought it was a nice change from most soap opera type shows. 

    I watched about 90 seconds of The Playboy one had had to stop once the Hugh Hefner voiceover started.  

    • Sobaika Mirza

      As someone who forced themselves to sit through the entire episode, the Hefner voice over was actually a highlight.

  • I enjoyed it, too, much to my surprise, even though it made me even more depressed about the state of air travel today.  To be fair, the CIA stuff is not made-up; PanAm was founded by Yale graduates, as was the CIA.  They worked very closely together, and for sure some of PanAm’s staff were working for intelligence in one capacity or another.  

  • There was no smoking because ABC-Disney basically wouldn’t allow it from the starring actors! If you google “disney pan am smoking” you’ll see articles about it.

    Enjoyed the review – and I enjoyed the show more than I thought I would.

  • Terence Ng

    I actually sat down and watched this and I found myself confused. I got that it was supposed to be 1963, but I felt like the way people talked and the settings (mostly the airport) seemed anachronistic at times, so much so that I kept wondering if they were really trying.

    I enjoyed it enough, and the girls were pretty clearly defined tropes, but maybe it’ll get better and the characters and writing will tighten up post-pilot.

  • Terence Ng

    I thought the same thing! I immediately thought she should have said, “Well, please tell your husband that it’s courteous to say that he’s married when he’s sleeping with other women.”

  • Anonymous

    “Now and Then,” Christina Ricci, I see what you did there.

  • aimee_parrott

    I have this on the DVR for viewing tonight, but couldn’t resist reading your take on it.  I watched the first 45 seconds or so of The Playboy Club and then deleted it — I made it right up until the voiceover said, “The kind of place where anything can happen to anybody.  Or anyBUNNY.” 

    I love Christina Ricci, so I’ll probably give this at least a few episodes to win me over.

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed the show last night. I am going to keep it on the watch list, a very short list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.
    I hope they have some nice fashion shots of the times. I loved the dress the character wore in Rome.

  • Anonymous

    Feh. I was not impressed. It felt like Mad Men meets Lost. Season 5 can’t get here fast enough…

  • Anonymous

    Ugh I was so disappointed by the narrow stereotypes that these women were made into in the first five minutes. They’re jealous! They’re catty! The French one is nice – she’ll loan you stockings! – but she’s tainted by a married man. Yuk yuk yuk.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like Sex and the Sixties.  

  • Loved the music, costumes, sets. 
    Hated the rest.
    But I will probably watch off and on when nothing else is on.

  • You just know that one of them is going to have a horrific experience with a back alley abortion, and another one will be attracted to a black guy, and someone is going to smoke marijuana, very tentatively but gleefully.

    • Anonymous

      & a prominent secondary character will get pregnant & married, in that order.  If it makes it to a 2nd or 3rd season, we’ll get the girls’ reunion with a  former stew who’s now a married mother (or maybe she’ll be a passenger! And they’ll have drinks) and we’ll get the grass is always greener episode, with each side questioning their choices . . .

  • Anonymous

    Good, frothy fun, and actually better than expected.  My former stepmother was an Pan Am flight attendant during this era (tho she called herself a Stewardess) and I loved her stories about daily weigh-ins and exotic ports of call.  It will never be Mad Men and I say hooray for knowing better than to even attempt to capture the MM magic.

  • BerlinerNYC

    Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this already, but there’s a reason for the no smoking: it’s on ABC, which is owned by Disney. It was already a(n entertainment) news story this summer that they had 86’d the smoking on the show, since it’s a Family Network. I’m not thrilled by the bowdlerizing and historical revisionism, but it’s not a documentary, so I’ll get over it.

    I missed a bunch of the pilot because I was watching The Good Wife, which was delayed by stupid football, and I assumed I had missed all the parts with La Ricci. Interesting to know that she was generally downplayed in the pilot. Smart.

  • Anonymous

    Whoa, reading about Christina Ricci as a rebellious flight attendant is giving me MAJOR deja vu to a movie I’ve seen before. Either her, or a very similar actress plays a sister from a messed up family in the late 60’s / early 70’s, and cleans up her act to become a flight attendant. Is this ringing a bell or anyone? It’s probably something dumb, but it’s going to drive me crazy!

    I’m curious to check out the show on Hulu, but I get a feeling the non-Mad Men-ness might be a bit grating to me.

    • Anonymous

      Figured it out – Almost Famous. My brain can rest easily now. 

      • And the sister was Zooey Deschanel!

  • Anonymous

    Deeply underwhelmed here. The acting, directing, writing all bored me. Not hopeful. 

  • Anonymous

    I seem to be in the same camp as the you guys and the masses. I did not expect to watch this. I don’t usually watch much TV on Sunday nights., The kids and I watch Amazing Race but after that? But they moved my Good Wife to Sundays and it was over and it was 10pm and I’m certainly not going to watch CSI Miami so Cristina Ricci convinced me to give Pan Am a try (she came to me in a dream) and I was pleasantly surprised. The dialogue was bad (could Tommy Schlamme bring his buddy Aaron Sorkin in to fix that?) but it was certainly more entertaining than I thought it would be. And pretty. No one was murdered, autopsied,operated on or put on trial. That alone makes it a breath of fresh air.  I’m glad you guys are blogging about it – gives it that ‘oomph’ factor. Or that gay factor. Either way you’ve improved the viewing experience for me my darlings.

  • L R

    I’ll admit I spent the first 10 minutes comparing Pan Am to Mad Men, but then the rest of episode intrigued me, especially the spying scenes.  Pan Am will definitely fill the void for me until Mad Men returns! 

  • Anonymous

    I loved seeing the (CGI) Pan Am Terminal sparkling in the sun.  It really did look like that.  My uncle Emanuel was the Turano of Ives, Turano & Gardner, the firm that designed it.  To my eleven year old eyes it looked so space-age!

  • Anonymous

    Is “Maggie” supposed to be wearing a wig while working, and would there have been a dress-code-related reason for that?  When she takes the phone call to report to work, Christina Ricci has hair past her shoulders, but she arrives at the airport with a chin-length bob.  I know that women used very tight curlers back then, and it could make their hair seem much shorter than it was, but that was clearly not the case here.  Also, in the restaurant scene during their London layover, her hair was long again, but pinned in back.  Curious…

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I totally noticed this too!  Irritating.  

  • I just watched the episode. It was good enough to set my tivo for the next one.

  • Rachelle Neame

    You are so right- everybody in this show was entirely glossy and perfect. I wasn’t going to watch this show until my boyfriend called my and told me that there was an explosion of beauty on the television.

    I did find that it doesn’t really evoke the feel of the 60’s as much as Mad Men does, either. Historical inaccuracies almost make this show distracting (especially when I wonder how Christina even fills out her uniform), but if you expect it to be lighter and fluffier than an AMC drama, then it works out.

  • Damien Washington

    I was very happy with the pilot (no pun intended). I was afraid it would be too fluffly, but when I saw in the opening credits that it was created/written by Jack Orman and directed by Thomas Schlamme, I knew that the whole would be more than the sum of its parts. Orman was writer/exec producer for some intense seasons of ER, and Schlamme helped make The West Wing everything that it was (the first four seasons anyway). I’m definitely optimistic.

  • Anonymous

    Poor structure, cliche back stories, terribly overbearing soundtrack, and really, Bay of Pigs with a marriage proposal at the same time? Terrible, shallow, melodramatic, and ultimately dull. I love Mad Men, don’t need a redux, and have to say that Playboy Club was much more enjoyable, well-paced and structured. It ain’t Shakespeare, but the music is good, and it’s a swinging little hour. I think the critics are on crack if this is their preference. Try PC out for yourselves before opining or condemning, T & L.


  • MilaXX

    is it safe to assume you’re recapping this show? What other shows are you recapping for the fall season?

  • Anonymous

    Certainly better than the execrable Playboy Club. I love Laura Benanti, but watching that drivel is too high a price to pay for even Miss Laura B. I wasn’t expecting to like Pan Am, either, but damn if I didn’t. The dopey runaway bride wasn’t interesting to me, and the French girl and her married bf were even less so, but that whole stewardess/spy thing kinda hooked me. I’m hoping we get more Christina Ricci, who seemed to be having a lot of fun, and more spies. It’s more like The Man from UNCLE meets Desperate Housewives than anything to do with Mad Men, but I still really enjoyed it. Quelle surprise!

  • Anonymous

    I thought it was a lot of fun. I didn’t even bother to watch the Playboy Club. But – did anyone else notice that the gate area looked an awful lot like the headquarters set in “Men in Black”?

  • Anonymous

    I’ll admit I wasn’t able to give the entire show my full attention, but parts of it were too cotton candy sweetness for my taste. The scene with the French stewardess taking the married guy’s little boy to the cockpit had me laughing. The way the little boy was dressed to absolute perfection, without so much as a wrinkle, and his big frozen smile AND his mother’s sparkling appreciative smile….it was so cliched and idealized it looked more like an ad for the era than a scene for a current tv show about the era. I love those ads but people didn’t act like that in real life. 

    I’ll be giving Pan Am another shot because it definitely has potential. Could be fun.

  • Did anyone else notice in the preview of next week’s episode, Christina Ricci is interacting with a passenger we also know as Dr. Emerson (who could forget him admonishing Peggy not to turn into “some kind of strumpet” once she’s on the pill) from MM?

  • Logo Girl

    I am fairly obsessed with the whole story arc of the rise and fall of the airline industry, and the contrast between the hopefulness of those days, the horrors that later became associated with airlines (especially the iconic ones), and the dreary march that flying has now become. Perhaps it is because I am just old enough to remember when flying was glamourous, even if I was just 3 when I first flew in the late 60s. Maybe it is because I did an intercontinental flight on Pan Am in its last months in 1991. I was excited about this show, but it seems both fluffy and inarticulate. Was not hoping for the Peggy Olsen angle, more of a critical exploration of that lost fantasy of flight, before we had to account for every drop of formula that was brought onboard. I realize that it won’t come in a network television package. though I strongly recommend anyone who has not seen her to search for Pam Ann on YouTube. Brilliance!

  • Anonymous

    I think it can be cute enough if they get rid of the overwrought, soaringly cinematic soundtrack. This isn’t “Saving Private Ryan.”

  • 1. How did Christina Ricci go from long beatnik-girl curly hair to her stew-bob in 35 minutes?  And where did all that hair go?
    2. When did PanAm hire high-school boys as pilots, and let them wear sideburns?

  • I didn’t really pay much attention to the plot, I was busy watching clothes.  I think I want to don a girdle, a wiggle dress and gloves and sashay somewhere like they did at the very end.  Of course, I would not pass the scale test (nor the age test)…

  • Oh, I loved it. It reminded me of a fantasy that a lot of girls my had at that age in the 60’s and 70’s of becoming a stewardess. I even remember how they would change into a different outfit when they got on the plane –I think Halston did the uniforms for United back in the day. I remember talking to a flight attendant on a long flight around 1971 and asking her all about her job. Wow, she was some kind of glamorous. Oh, and did anyone else get a set of wings?

    I was really surprised to see Christina Ricci, but she looked great, and was the only character who had some kind of background that wasn’t out of a “Breck” commercial.

    I remember watching my mother and older sisters wriggle into those girdles!  Mercifully, they were out by the time I was old enough. I agree with you on all the points on the narrative –let’s hope the characters are fleshed out a bit, given some depth, and that it will do justice to chronicle the enormous societal changes that led the 60’s into the ’70’s.

  • I’m so glad you guys liked this show too!   I thought the producers really knew what they were trying to achieve and did a great job pulling it off.  It reminded me of one of those ’50-’60s morality tales about the lives of “career women.”  There’s usually three or four female leads, each representing a certain personality type: the smart girl, the shy girl, etc.  I’m thinking of films like 1959s The Best of Everything, whose tag line was, “These are the girls who want the best of everything…but settle for a lot less!” lol  But this show has a generally more positive, up-with-girl-power vibe, which makes it feel both modern and nostalgic.  And I appreciate the show’s sense of, well, verve.  You don’t see much of that these days, unless it’s done in a super-ironic way.  It’s a cool tone to pull off. 

    It’s frothy, kicky fun, and I like it! 

    I can’t wait to read what you guys think of the show’s fashion and design looks.

  • sorry for getting off topic but speaking of new shows, The Walking Dead starts airing it’s second season on October 16th.  Are you guys going to review that show again?  LOVE IT

  • Anonymous

    When I heard about PanAm and the Playboy Club, I rolled my eyes because I knew these shows would try to copy the mid-Century sets and details (as Mad Men does, very well) but, being network shows, without the excellent writing and insights about the period that Mad Men has.  Part of the brilliance of the show is that is depicts the pervasive sexism of the day, which sometimes manifested itself in subtle ways.  (And at other times, more obvious ways.)  Of course, the Playboy Club, with its intro by Hefner himself, is only going to romanticize the period.  Glad to hear that this show is more promising – maybe I’ll find the time to watch.

  • Didi None

    I just watched this On-Demand.  My issue with it, other than the pretty silly storylines and it being chock full of cliches, is that it did not look authentically 1960’s.  It looked like actresses and actors dressing up to look like they are from the ’60’s.  Mad Men, however, is so incredibly authentic that I stop focusing on the nostalgia and accept it. With Pan Am, I kept getting distracted how none of the actresses look authentically accurate to the ’60’s.  The actors, expecially, looked like some guys I might see at the sports bar across the streeet, except in a 1960’s pilots uniform.  I can’t quite figure out what is off (what Mad Men gets so right and this show gets only partially), but I found myself focusing on trying to figure out what it was the entire episode.