“We’ll Always Have Paris”

Posted on October 03, 2011

As much as we love this frothy, poodle-pink confection of a show for what it is (a sort of Happy Days-slash-Love Boat redux set in the Camelot era), we can’t help spending most of the episode yelling at the TV because of the hair. They’re doing that thing that a lot of period films and TV shows do (with the notable exception of Mad Men): tweaking the period looks to make them more palatable to modern audiences. The clothes are mostly okay in terms of accuracy. Even if they’re not perfectly accurate to the period, they manage to paint the broad strokes fairly effectively (although for all the talk of girdles, we question whether the leads are wearing them in every scene). That’s to be expected because, thanks to Mad Men and decades of stylish thrift store shoppers, mid-Century-style clothing is back in style.  But men in 1963 – airline pilots, no less – with “dry look” hair hanging over their collars is enough to make our eyes twitch. And the female leads are no better, with soft pageboys or gently falling curls that look like they were set with a curling iron a half hour before rather than the more accurate set-in-rollers-the-night-before look of the period. It’s a minor thing and we’ll get over it, but you’re just going to have to listen to us bitch about it every now and then.

Thankfully, we have little else to bitch about when it comes to this episode, which felt like a continuation of the pilot in many ways. We assumed the show would have serialized plots like a nighttime soap opera, but were surprised to see several plot strands come effectively to an end. We would have thought Laura’s runaway bride routine and subsequent fallout would fuel her story for the rest of the season, but there she was, hugging it out and saying goodbye to her sentence-finishing fiance, who may have been a bit of a condescending jerk but understood he could never give her Mt. Kilimanjaro. We’re a bit puzzled as to what you can actually do with a character like Laura once she learns to stand on her own and stand up to the people who want to keep her down. That’s normally a season-long (or even several seasons long)  character arc but it was all wrapped up in the first two episodes. We’ll see if she can remain interesting after this.

It was the other two wrapups that left us a little disappointed. There’s still plenty you can do with Kate and she is, by far, our favorite character, but the prodigal daughter bit had real teeth to it, especially when she has to work side-by-side with a sister she loves, but secretly resents for being seen as the prettier, more palatable one. Who doesn’t want to cheer her on when she yells “I rode an elephant in Bangkok last month!” at her dismissive, controlling mother? But again, there she was, hugging it out with Mom at the end.

And if that left us disappointed, we were practically heartbroken that the wild, fabulous, mysterious Bridget seems to be leaving the story altogether. Sure, it makes sense to use her as a cautionary tale; to let Kate know the stakes of being a CIA operative flying the friendly skies. And of course, once Kate is given this information, she has a nice character-defining moment where she boldly declares her intention to keep on going, even knowing what it could cost her. But we – again – assumed the whole “What happened to Bridget?” storyline was going to fuel half the season. Even Dean seems to have gotten over her rather quickly and moved on with Colette, who’s our second-favorite character, by the way.

Christina Ricci’s Maggie is, surprisingly, a character that’s going to need a bit more work. Still mostly in the background, with no real arc to speak of, it seems that, for now, she’s going to be the mouthpiece for social change. That’s fine, but they’re going to have to come up with more subtle ways to express that than “I’m not included in the price of your ticket!” and “You made it okay for him to try that again with another girl.” If she’s mouthing off during her weight checks and stabbing handsy male passengers with a meat fork, then the inevitable question of why she’s a Pan Am stewardess at all is going to have to be raised, and we suspect they’re going to neatly sidestep that one just to keep giving her “I am woman” scenes and monologues.

We may have to adjust our expectations slightly. We don’t actually watch much network television outside of Glee, and that show, for all its many faults, is a genre-busting oddity unlike anything else on television (before they started devising ripoffs). Pan Am is as glossy a network show as you can get; the Charlie’s Angels of the skies. We would have liked to have seen season-long arcs for each character, but it looks like, for now, we’re going to be getting discrete, one-or-two episode arcs before moving on. A smart set of writers can work within that model and produce character-defining pieces that pile up cumulatively instead of flowing in one long line, so we’ll see if the creative team can sustain things. For now, we’ll just sit back and not think about it too much.

Except for the hair. That’s never not going to drive us nuts.

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  • I wonder if they’re trying to do more self-contained storylines per episode at first to help bring in viewers.  Granted, it’s less of a problem now because of DVRs and online episodes, but that allows viewers to just jump in whenever without being lost.  (Though soaps did it for decades without a problem)  Plus if the show gets axed, viewers aren’t left hanging without resolution.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, there are some shows I’ve never really gotten into watching because I feel like I missed too much at the beginning to start up.


      • Anonymous

        The Sopranos is IMO a good example. Even more, having watched an entire season did nothing to help you understand what was going on if you missed one episode after. I get the cryptical thing as an element of the show, but they went too far. 

      • I agree. You need that character and plot development from the beginning to really enjoy a show. I won’t watch a show if I miss the two opening episodes and can’t easily catch up. Thank goodness I was able to watch a Mad Men season one marathon right before season two started. I can’t imagine not ever watching my favorite show.

  • I agree about the hair! It bugs the hell out of me when they try to update the looks! They did the same thing with the Playboy Club and it’s so irritating and distracting – and that’s just in the previews! Why do a period piece if you’re not going to be true to the period? MadMen is the gold standard in this regard. I’ve never seen a false note on that show. These new shows reminds me of the westerns that were made in the early 60’s where the women all wore up does, false eyelashes and black eye liner. WTF? Besides, the hairstyles from the early 60s are super cool and why would you want to mess that up? garumph.

    • So true!
      Give us some teased up, bouffed out madness!  Or if not that, how about some super chic Vidal Sassoon hair cuts? Admittedly the main characters can’t got here, but why not style your extras and incidental characters with more zip?

  • Terence Ng

    I agree, but, and this is far too optimistic, perhaps they ended those arcs to buck the tropes. Everyone’s seen the “I am a newly liberated woman. Now what do I do?” arcs and the “Prodigal Daughter” arcs before. Perhaps the writers are indeed looking to develop newer ideas for each character.

    Or maybe they’re just lazy and didn’t know how to plan out a story. We’ll see.

  • Sobaika Mirza

    I was disappointed too. Granted, it’s only been two episodes, but I think Lost ruined me. Might have to just accept how frothy and light this show is intent on being.

  • greathill

    I don’t think Kate and her mom actually “hugged it out” at the end.  I was expecting that too and would have rolled my eyes.  Kate just looked at her, didn’t she?  I agree with the previous commenter and you too; I wonder if the story arcs are short for marketing purposes.  

  • I would have to agree with you in terms of styling. If you’re going to go for accuracy, then DO IT, dammit.  And its the little stuff like the right hair and shoes that makes me crazy.  Like the special sheen that women’s hair had in the 60’s because of the hairspray.  It gave a subtle candy floss coating to the hair that glistened slightly.  A man’s hair was NEVER without some kind of product in it if he was a professional man. That would most assuredly apply to pilots for Pan Am.

    • Anonymous

      I know this was mentioned last week, but that’s an awfully young piloting contingent.  They need to at least cut the back of their hair.  Also, I hope that do more with Sanjeev.  I think it would be awesome to have perhaps an inter-racial relationship emerge to play with the ideas of the early 1960s. But that might be asking too much.

    • Anonymous

      “A man’s hair was NEVER without some kind of product in it if he was a professional man.”  That is correct!  Two words – Don Draper.  They need to get some Brylcreem on that hair pronto!

      • I have many pictures of my father from the 60’s.  It wasn’t the Brylcreem that did it, it was the Vitalis.  That stuff could shine some hair… 

  • Anonymous

    Slightly left down after the promising pilot, but I still enjoyed it. It’s not the hair that will cause me to constantly suspend disbelief, it’s the age of the pilot. No way would that guy be flying in real life in that era, plus, is he interesting enough as a actor? Me thinks, not.

    • Anonymous

      Well when my father was 29 in 1958 he was an airline captain and he met and married my stewardess mother and let me tell you they looked mighty young  in the wedding photos.  He was the youngest of seven brothers who all flew.  My mom became a stewardess(they didn’t call them flight attendants back then back then) at 20 because her family couldn’t afford to send her to nursing school.  Lots of people in the early days of commercial aviation got their training in the military as well so many were younger than what you typically see nowadays.

      • Anonymous

        what do you know? That makes me feel better about the casting of a young actor.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for sharing! Your parents’ story sounds pretty awesome.

      • Ah yes, but your father at age 29 probably wasn’t the head pilot (or whatever the term is) inaugurating a new service to a European capital on the premier American airline. Airline routes were assigned by seniority and no way would a young whippersnapper win the bid on that route; that’s what I objected to. That and his fluffy hair.

        • Anonymous

          You are right.  He definitely didn’t have fluffy hair and he didn’t work for Pan Am (he worked for one of their major competitors) and he probably didn’t fly the inaugural flights but he was the Captain (left seat pilot).  He started flying when he was 12 and began wing walking at 14.  Aviation was a crazy business in the early days.

          One thing I noticed in the pilot that was a glaring mistake.  In the final scene the pilots are in the bar drinking and talking about the stewardesses.  Major no no.  No alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to flying.  They would have all been grounded for drinking in uniform.  Pilots and stewardesses alike.

  • Anonymous

    I used to think that Mad Men hair was overstyled, particulary the women. Not all women in that era had helmut hair and hairspray has its limits. Curlers give you a tight curl but they relax over time and even a good shellacking couldn’t always combat the forces of gravity.

  • Anonymous

    The hair… just like Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago… which also drove me nuts!! 

  • Anonymous

    when they said laura had gained a pound since her last weigh in, i immediately thought–“she’s pregnant.”  maybe that is the direction her story is going to go?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, that crossed my mind as well.

    • Anonymous

      If you thought it, then it’s true. This is network TV, where the glaringly obvious is telegraphed miles ahead.

    • Anonymous

      But with who?  She broke up with the finance six months ago.  The show seems to like flashbacks, so if we get a scene with her runaway bride rebound guy, I’ll be more convinced.

  • Anonymous

    “Tlo said: with soft pageboys or gently falling curls that look like they were set with a curling iron a half hour before rather than the more accurate set-in-rollers-the-night-before look of the period.”

    Yeah, in fact, does anyone else remember that early/mid 60’s TV commercial for for hairspray (was it White Rain?) that showed 2 models going through a drive-through car wash in a convertible (with identical hairdoos)? At the end, one had ruined hair, and the other’s hair still looked perfect due to using the hair spray?

    That was the helmet standard of the day.


    • O  M  G
      I had forgotten all about that ad.  You’re so right. the ideal was hair that an atomic blast couldn’t dislodge.  I still remember my Aunt Helen talking about ratting up women’s hair and spraying it into mobility every day at her work.

    • Anonymous

      Betcha dollars to donuts it was Aquanet.

    • MilaXX

      I remember that!

  • I am laughing so hard because since the first scene of the pilot episode I was like, ‘a Pam Am pilot in the early 60’s wouldn’t wear his hair like that!’ Oh TLo, my brothers in nit-picky obsession. You make me feel more sane by virtue of you indulging my insanity.

  • Anonymous

    “Tlo said: And if that left us disappointed, we were practically heartbroken that the wild, fabulous, mysterious Bridget seems to be leaving the story altogether.”

    Yes! But I have a feeling she’ll pop up again. They can’t possibly leave someone like that in Omaha of whatever other hillbilly place she’s supposedly from now.


    • Anonymous

      yeah, Kansas City Missouri with a British accent. I wonder if it will pass as a midwestern drawl?

  • Anonymous

    Boys, I hear you. I tuned in to the first ep, saw the laughable hair, and tuned out. Sorry, but the bar’s higher than that post-Mad Men. I figured a show that pays so little attention to such an important part of the time period it claims to represent would be shitty on other levels, too.

    • Anonymous

      I wasn’t expecting Mad Men-level accuracy, but they shouldn’t be sloppy. Hairdos shouldn’t be tough to recreate. I thought the magazine rack at the airport looked pretty good.

  • Anonymous

    Wasn’t the standard to have your hair washed and set once a week at the beauty parlor? That took a lot of Dippity Do and Aqua Net.

    • Anonymous

      I remember my mom going to the ‘beauty shop’ once a week – Wednesday, after work – to have her bee-hive done up. She’d sleep with pink hair tape on her bangs and side burn curls and the rest of her hair swathed in toilet paper. The morning was spent removing all of that and spraying the hell out of it with…you named it….Aqua Net! She’d continue the same every night until the next Wednesday! Isn’t that crazy??? Makes me laugh just to think about it. God Bless Vidal Sassoon!

  • Anonymous

    I, too, wished the story arc with Bridget would continue rather than have her disappear to Kansas City, Missouri. I was surprised at how quickly Dean turned to Colette in the midst of his depression about his missing almost-fiance. Colette is my favorite character, so I hope she gets more development over the season.

    I do want to say, since I just saw both episodes yesterday, how gorgeous the sets are. In fact, the whole image is gorgeous. Big and bold and colorful…very reminiscent to me of early 1960s movies (Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, etc.)

  • Anonymous

    the nicest thing I have to say about it is that I really don’t like the score.  (monday, can you tell?)

  • Anonymous

    No, seriously, the MEN HAVE TO CUT THEIR HAIR. It’s called committment to their art, and it isn’t that big a deal. Short hair on men is always in, and it grows back so fast should the series die and they’re back on the market again. Take your work seriously, guys. It’s called grooming.

  • YES!  I completely agree about the hair!  If you are going to do a period piece, please be at least close to accurate.  Dean’s hair would not exist on a pilot in 1963.  And you nailed it on the women – curling iron vs. roller set.  The makeup seems fairly accurate, why do they give up on the hair?  Is there so much work in TV now that they are afraid to tell actors/actresses “cut your hair if you want this part?” 

  • MilaXX

    I came into this with low expectations so for now I’m okay with the show. This and Suburbgatory are the only new shows I like.Hopefully it doesn’t get too Love Boat like.

    • Anonymous

      Is Suburbgatory good? I was thinking of watching it. I’ve not been invested in grown up TV since Monk and Psych.

      • Suburgatory made me laugh. It sort of reminds me of “Easy A” – nothing discussed is anything new, but the show isn’t afraid to be smart and witty (and snarky).

        Not something I can say about Pan Am, which bores the pants off of me.

  • Anonymous

    i haven’t caught the show yet, but since my husband’s in love with christina ricci i’d better keep up.

    all this talk of girdles takes me back to burbank calif. in 1963.  it’s over 100 outside, and there we are in the locker room after gym class, putting on our longline girdles with garters attached, hose (the before pantyhose era),  and three piece outfits with matching belt, shoes, and purse.  and we had surprise skirt checks in gym class where you had to kneel and if your skirt didn’t touch the ground, you got sent home to change.  crazy days!

    • Anonymous

      News flash: I graduated nursing school in 1993 and they were STILL doing “kneeling skirt checks” (although they were not surprise) on our uniforms.  There was one guy in our class and he just stood in the corner, laughing.  Thank God those days are over!

      • We had to submit to fingernail checks since most every nurse was wearing scrubs in the late 90’s. The guys didn’t.

        Interestingly, now that there is a one color scrub dress code at work, and no nurse under 35 wears a skirt because you have to wear hose with it; a nurse I was working with had to bend to fix the bed and her scrubs were so low cut the patient had no choice but to know absolutely what color & type of underwear she had on.

        • Anonymous

          I work in the OR so we all wear scrubs.  The only folks that consistently wear “see your underwear” size scrubs are the orderlies and the new residents…..go figure.

    • I don’t remember ever wearing stockings to high school (Los Angeles 1958-61). It was always tie shoes and socks, even on 100 degree days with spaghetti strap sundresses. 

  • Mike Rhone

    There are other anachronisms, as well.

  • Mike Rhone

    Sorry, hit post too soon..  Other anachronisms/errors as well.  In the first episode, Maggie drove by the Cort Theatre, where Camelot was playing.  Except Camelot played at the Majestic.  It also closed in January 1963, and although Pan Am is set in 1963, it’s obviously later in the year than January.  Last night, the episode opened with Frank Sinatra’s cover of “On A Clear Day,” a song he didn’t record until 1966 (from a Broadway show that didn’t open until 1965).

  • Judy_J

    My beef with the show is not only the men’s hairstyles, but the ages of the pilots themselves.  The pilots of commercial jets in the 1960’s were by and large WWII veterans who would have been well into their late 30’s and early 40’s; not the young guys they’ve cast on the show.  But until Mad Men makes its reappearance in March, Pan Am will have to do.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you. That’s exactly what my husband and I complained about in the first episode. But then we softened a bit, accepting that some younger Korean War vets might be professional pilots too.

    • Exactly.  I’m sorry I hadn’t scrolled down before I posted above.  We need some hot older men.  These young guys acting all paternal to Ricci seems strange.

  • Anonymous

    “tweaking the period looks to make them more palatable to modern audiences. ”

    I haven’t seen this show, but what you’re saying reminds me especially of ’40s & ’50s period movies, where you’d see someone playing, I don’t know, someone from the 1800s with a ’50s bob and what we used to call Lucy Lips.

  • Anonymous

    A whole lotta nothing…week 2.   I was bored out of my skull by this.  What is the point of having half of each episode set in a foreign country when they can’t even create an approximation of a foreign country?

    This week I can tell the sisters apart.  But they’re boring.

    The only thing I want out of this disaster is a Pan Am bag.

    • Anonymous

      What is the point of having half of each episode set in a foreign country when they can’t even create an approximation of a foreign country?

      My absolute favorite example of this is the old Mission Impossible TV series – the streets of Paris looked suspiciously similar to those of Rome, and London, and, um, Cairo…

  • Anyone else notice we had our first Mad Men actor this episode? They lasted a whole week longer than Playboy Club!

  • tom

    Yeah, where are the damn bouffants?  None of the hairstyles look as if they’ve been lacquered with AquaNet the guys don’t have crew cuts.  You may not have to copy the period to the last detail but show some realism.  I have fond memories of flying when I was a kid(hate it now) and had high hopes for this show but so far not very interesting. 

    • The pilots are all 20 years too young.  They used aviation vets to fly those planes in real world.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry you guys, but I love the wonderful Christina Ricci. She gives the show some sass…and this show really needs something. The storylines have get better or I will be ready to move onto to friendlier skies.

  • I’m not enjoying this show as much as I thought I would. Christina Ricci’s character is especially disappointing. If they improve the dialogue a bit, I may continue watching. Did Colette really call the maitre d’ “garcon” or am I losing my mind?

    • i think i can maybe kinda sorta remember my father calling the fancy waiters in fancy restaurants “garçon” way back in the cenozoic. that would be the cenozoic 70s, true, but he was old so it’s probably a semi-common more-than-semi-pretentious remnant from the prehistoric cenozoic 60s.

      • Yeah, Americans definitely did that to waiters (I’m guessing your father was American). But this was a young French woman addressing the manager of a club!

  • After watching “The Man Who Cried” I have to say, either Ricci is holding back, this is the wrong vehicle for her, or the writers are all under 30.

  • I know, no Mad Men comparisons. Well, Mad Men has better flashbacks than a bride hiding from her mommy. 😛

    Bridgette’s hair was way too messy, especially for a 1960s stewardess. Colette’s hair seems too small. Her club scene dress also seemed off—the straps, the decolletage, and the color. I also question whether stewardesses were allowed to work the cabin without their blazers.

  • Gigi Louis

    I remember watching as my mother had her hair done every week.  Tons of setting lotion (when they removed the rollers, the curls were so stiff they could hurt you), insane teasing and a few good layers of Aqua Net.  She’d touch it up every morning and give it another spritz of Aqua Net.  I wonder now how many shampoos it took to get that shellac out!

    • Oh, you definitely had to shampoo, rinse and shampoo again.

  • seff p

    The only network dramas worth getting into are The Good Wife and Fringe.  IMHO.  Sitcoms are better on broadcast channels than they’re on cable, but y’all don’t seem that into sitcoms?  I like PanAm okay.  I agree in hoping that Christina Ricci’s Maggie was a better character and had a better storyline.

  • Anonymous

    I think that Maggie is a Pan Am stewardess, despite the sexism, because it is still a fabulous experience that not many people would have had the opportunity to do.  I think that people often deal with things that they don’t like because of the other benefits.  What else was there to do for a young woman in the 60’s?  Secretary where she would have been hit on by the men in the office.  Teacher where she would have been hit on by the fathers.  Stay at home mom where her husband would have cheated on her.  (Not necessarily, I just described life as I see it portrayed by Mad Men)

  • Former Pan Am stewardesses whom I have seen interviewed about this show have all complained abou the women’s hair being too long too.