Now that is how you do an era show about women standing on their own two feet. Pan Am does this and manages to tell stories that are fun, fast moving, and important to the overall plot of the show. Every actress/actor got their story told quickly and efficiently in the pilot so now you know going into this season who you are dealing with. The stories were well told and held my attention for an hour easily. Not only this, but the stories were shown in some of the best shot television I have seen in a while, everything was pretty. That seems like a simplistic way to explain it, but its true, everything was so pleasant to look at that even if the stories had been boring I probably would have stuck around.
Add all that to the fact that the directors of Pan Am were wise enough to not focus the entire pilot on Christina Ricci. Even though she is the most recognizable face in the cast she had very little to do with the pilot. We got a quick glimpse of her backstory, enough to know she will be our beatnik, and then quickly moved on to the other stewardesses (who so far have the more interesting stories). Not only did the directors not focus solely on Ricci, but they also managed to mix in some intrigue with a spy subplot. I would not have expected that, but it was fun to see Kate (Kelli Garner) trying to survive her first spy job while juggling her job and her sister Laura’s (Margot Robbie) first day on the job. Toss in Bridget (Annabelle Wallis) who is either the greatest female spy/Pan Am stewardess ever, or possibly in over her head, and you have a great season long mystery that will keep me coming back for more.
This is not to say the pilot was flawless. The storyline of Laura running away from a wedding she didn’t want to have was predictable, and little to “woman breaking free”, but it was shot beautifully and necessary to establish how Laura came to be with Pan Am. Colette’s (Karin Vanasse) story as a woman who falls for a married man was also a little to obvious, but Vanasse did a wonderful job portraying the hurt and confusion she was dealing with.
So, Pan Am is by no means perfect, but a very solid show. I will be back next week, and may review the whole season if the show keeps moving at this pace. What did you all think? Did you think this portrayal of women was better, worse, or about the same as The Playboy Club? Do you like the spy subplot or was it just too much for you?