Pan Am’s pilot last night proved to be refreshing new addition to the sometimes lacking network TV lineup. Although the comparisons with Mad Men have been endless, the idea of the show is not that similar at all besides the time period and the fashion statements. While the “first ladies of the sky” are weighed regularly and are treated more like models than today’s flight attendants, the opportunities that Pan Am gives them are almost unheard of at the time.
Laura, a newest girl on the crew, even runs out on her wedding in hopes of traveling the world with her sister Maggie, who is a seasoned flight attendant with nothing tying her down. All of the women on the show are strong, independent women who want to make something of themselves rather than the sex objects Mad Men portrays. Even when Colette, a flight attendant from Paris, discovers that her new fling has a wife and child when they all board her transatlantic flight, she does not dismiss it in the “boys will be boys” way that Mad Men treats the subject. She is composed but angry and even jokes about whether to poison his drink or food.
While the romantic plots are interesting, albeit a little cheesy, I especially loved the parts involving the CIA. Two of the stewardesses are chosen to work with the CIA to covertly transfer documents across the world and check up on passengers of interest among other tasks, something I had no idea actually happened during the Cold War. I have to admit I first I thought this was kind of crazy and far fetched, but I went with it because it made for a great plot-line.
Then I did some research. Nancy Ganis, the show’s executive producer, was a Pan Am stewardess for years and is rumored to have had connections with the CIA during her time working for the company. Talk about authenticity. To further prove me wrong, in an interview I found discussing the pilot with former Pan Am stewardesses their biggest complaint was that the hairstyles are too long. Overall, I really enjoyed the pilot and can’t wait to see what happens next week!