Tuesday, October 4, 2011


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I just watched the Series premier of "Pan Am", another retro Mad Men inspired drama.  I think that this one might be a real hit.  Similar to "The Playboy Club", this show focuses on four women who are able to rise above the repression of their sex in the 1960's to become rulers of their own destinies.

The show starts with a slick visual of the Pan Am Worldport inside JFK Airport, New York.  Despite its CGI-esque qualities, I couldn't help but feel the grandeur of what it must have been like in its heyday.

I soon saw the reality of being a stewardess in the 1960's, each girl having to be strictly examined head to toe for weight, general appearance and for uniform violations (one of which was the absence of a scary girdle).  The narrator spoke of how international the cabin crew were, all university educated and that women flew until they were married. 

"They don't know that they're a new breed of woman. They just had an impulse to take flight."

"So don't try to ground them."

Each of the main featured women came with their own baggage and interesting life histories that led them to this point.  A French stewardess came face to face with the disastrous results of infidelity.  Another seemed to come from a dubious past but puts on a laissez-faire mask for the world to see.  Another gave up the security of married life for adventure in the skies.  Even the pilots (who by the way seem way too young to hold such high ranking positions) have their own secrets and complicated life situations.

When the Captain made an announcement shortly before take-off that the flight would be faster than before - only 6.5 hours to London, England, it dawned on me.  In almost 50 years, airplane technology hasn't improved at all as current flights to London take the same amount of time!!

As their tag line goes "The world's most experienced Airline".  From 1927, Pan Am was the largest international air carrier in the United States.  It was a cultural icon in the 20th century.  To fly with them was a luxury, to be one of them was a privilege.  

"I'm a Pan Am Stewardess."
"That's my favourite kind of Stewardess..."

These strong women dealt with all of the usual pressures one would expect in this type of work, along with the other annoyances such as randy men and their unwanted advances.  They often had to be told!

"Consider her restricted air space."

I loved the plane's interiors.  It had banquette lounge areas with tables for children and men with important business papers.  Attractive wallpaper also added to the elegance.  Carts were covered with crisp, white tablecloths, and bud vases filled with fresh flowers were placed for further adornment.  Passengers could smoke and a bar area was available for any number of retro cocktails to be made upon request. 

Everyone had that 1960's placid look on their faces, as if we were watching an episode of the Donna Reed Show.

1970's Pan Am flight attendant

The final shot was of a little girl who looked in awe at the 4 Pan Am stewardesses as they walked toward the proverbial sunset and into the shining new Clipper 22, ready and willing for their next adventure.

As for this blog's cryptic title, watch the show and find out!  "BUCKLE UP, ADVENTURE CALLS...!"

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