'Pan Am' Season 1 Preview Guide: The '60s at 30,000 Feet
'Pan Am' Season 1 Preview Guide: The '60s at 30,000 Feet
Mad Men. I just wanted to get it out of the way quicker than every other media outlet that has offered an account on ABC's new drama Pan Am. The comparison between these two shows is made for a reason; both shows are set in the 1960s and try to give us a glimpse back into a time and sensibility that has allegedly left our society. But rather than taking place in the smoke-filled offices of a New York ad agency, Pan Am takes to the skies, albeit probably in smoke-filled airplanes.

For the kids out there (I'm 24 so it was news to me too), Pan American World Airways was the pre-eminent international airline in the United States for the better part of last century, before folding in 1991. Pan Am season 1 will focus on the crew of a new 707, led by a rookie captain named Dean (Mike Vogel), his wise-cracking co-pilot Ted (Michael Mosley) and their fleet of stewardesses.

The show's star is Christina Ricci, who plays a woman named Maggie, a breathtaking stewardess during the day who uses the opportunity to fly around the world and enlighten herself on different ways to think about the world. Chances are, if the show is successful in its aim of capturing the social tone of the '60s, Maggie will become the show's driving force into the women's movement.

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The rest of the stewardess crew is made up of Dean's girlfriend Bridget (Annabelle Wallis), who turns up missing in the pilot; Colette (Karine Vanasse), a French temptress who is fond of keeping a man on retainer in every city she might visit; and a pair of sisters named Kate (Kelli Garner) and Laura (Margot Robbie), the latter of whom has gained overnight notoriety by being featured on the cover of Life Magazine.

ABC seems dedicated to the success of Pan Am, as it appears to be their flagship drama for the new season. However, it has already drawn a good deal of flack from feminist groups and luminaries such as Gloria Steinem regarding its portrayal of women. One could argue that the reason Mad Men is able to toe this line is because of its commitment to historical accuracy and it doesn't glamorize many of the unappealing qualities of the times.

Feminist groups have singled out a scene in which stewardesses are weighed to make sure that they remain at a satisfactory weight. It's a fact of the times certainly, but it will be interesting to see if they revisit that well in a more gratuitous way week to week.

We shall all find out when Pan Am season 1 premieres on ABC on September 25.

Casey Casteel
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of ABC)