As a child, I occasionally went with my parents on vacation and we would, when the price was right, use as an airline Pan Am. I distinctly remember thinking it was a shame that it went out of business in 1991 after the harsh loss of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. It therefore came as a surprise to me when ABC announced that they were making a television show about flight attendants (formerly called stewardesses) and their experiences working for Pan Am Worldwide in the early 1960’s.

I’m not sure why, but one of the big things I read about the show was how it would never portray people smoking — perhaps something to do with the show being made by a network owned by Disney? We weren’t too far into the first episode when I spotted a gentleman in the background lighting a cigarette. To me it only made sense — why would you pretend that something didn’t happen in an era in which many more people did it compared to now? I suppose it would be different if they promised a historically accurate television show.

That brings me to the dialogue on the show, which feels, to be honest, modern. People have conversations that sound like they are lifted out of 2011, not 1961. I honestly can’t even point to a particular aspect of the conversation that sounds so modern, just that it really does — just a feeling that I get when I am listening to the characters talk.

When compared to the dialogue on the considerably superior (and yet already cancelled after only three episodes) Playboy Club, you immediately realize that it pales in comparison. I don’t want to get into how ridiculous it is that NBC cancelled the Playboy Club after only three episodes — they allowed Seinfeld to coast on mediocre ratings for two full seasons when it was first introduced. Then again, the early 1990s was a different time for television.

Dialogue aside, I really do like Pan Am. I feel as though I am connecting with the characters and getting a feel for where the plot is moving. I like the idea that one of the flight attendants would be, in fact, an international spy since it was easy to blend in with other people who were regularly flying internationally as part of their job.

I thought by this point in the season I would have a better idea of how good the show is but I think it bears watching further. It is something I would certainly recommend as a show to watch!


  1. I like it that the dialogue hits your ear wrong, Gordon. That’s a great sign of a well-trained aesthetic! I’m not surprised, though, that the speech in Pan Am feels inauthentic to you. Proper colloquial language is one of the hardest things to make successful in a period piece.

    1. Too right, David. When I watch Mad Men I feel like I am watching a window into that time period. Not so with Pan Am, unfortunately. I hope they work on that!

    1. It’s interesting how she has gone from the big screen to the small screen — seems like a lot of actors are doing that now as Hollywood parts dry up. I like her in the show, though!

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