'Pan Am' Premiere: Will This Show Have Wings?

Starring Christina Ricci, ABC's 'Pan Am' premiered on Sunday, offering a flirty take on the friendly skies in the 60s

Pan Am -- ABC's zippy new show about glamorous airline stewardesses in the '60s -- launched its first episode Sunday night. Like AMC's Mad Men, it's a '60s-era period drama that highlights that time frame's evolving attitudes about women. Watch the first episode below! 


But Pan Am is much frothier, or should we say, breezier. At 20,000 feet in the air, these manicured characters and polished storylines just don't go as deep. "Pan Am seems most intent on making the idea of the ‘60s and stewardesses and 'the jet age' more glamorous than real," writes Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. In his review for Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker calls the show "fun, with the promise of something more."

Despite plotlines involving espionage, adultery and the Bay of Pigs crisis, the most shocking aspect of this show is how roomy the planes are. (It's like everyone's in first class! There are no tray tables wedged into passengers' stomachs, and two people can walk down the cabin's bright, clean aisle at the same time!)

Maggie (Christina Ricci) -- a beatnik who gets suspended for daring to forgo her girdle -- is the rebel of the group. Laura (Margot Robbie) is the newbie, whose fresh, pretty face gets featured on the cover of Life magazine before she's even worked her first flight. Colette (Karine Vanasse) is the pert and perky Frenchie who's carrying on an affair with a suave but deceitful, married passenger. And Kate (Kelli Garner) is the street-smart sort who's about to start a side gig as a government spy.

All are considered independent, and a new kind of woman who forgoes marriage (at least for a time) to jet around the world. But of course, they cheerfully put up with the casually misogynistic mores of the day -- like getting weighed in before flights. (Do the all-male pilots get weighed? Certainly not.)

Are glamorous stewardesses to be celebrated, or held up as an ugly beacon of 60's sexism? Obviously, the brilliantly scripted Mad Men is better equipped to answer that question. But if viewers are simply looking for a light and buoyant hour of TV, Pan Am will probably take off.

For more insight on what life was like for flight attendants in the '60s, check out ABC's new documentary web series, The Real Stewardesses of Pan Am.

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