TCA 2011: Are ‘Pan Am’ stewardesses oppressed or ‘lucky’?


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In the pilot of ABC’s new drama ‘Pan Am,’ a voiceover says: ‘The Pan Am stewardess can travel all around the world without suspicion.’ But the show’s producers and cast can’t avoid the suspicions of reporters about the message being sent by the series set in the 1960s.

When the cast and producers appeared Sunday at the Television Critics Assn. media tour in Beverly Hills to promote the series, they were peppered with questions about the sexism depicted in the show.


The series highlights some of the domineering treatment of flight attendants, such as mandatory weigh-ins and girdle checks. But those involved with the show caution against focusing too heavily on such practices.

‘It was part of the irony of the profession,’ said creator and executive producer Jack Orman, noting the freedom that came with the vocation. ‘I think female audiences in large numbers will like it.’

Christina Ricci, who plays flight attendant Maggie, hopes viewers will see the bigger picture about ‘a group of lucky women.’

‘As soon as anybody sees five minutes of the show,’ Ricci said, ‘those misconceptions about what it meant for women is going to be gone. It will send a message of how these women were free and in charge of their lives.’

Executive producer Nancy Hult Ganis, a Pan Am flight attendant in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, also addressed the question, pointing out flight attendants’ large role in the labor and feminist movements.

‘I think [flight attendants] still have great memories of that time and had great adventures,’ she said.


‘Pan Am’ premieres Sunday, Sept. 25, on ABC.


Coverage of TCA 2011 on Show Tracker

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