A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show's overall feel is nostalgic and rather sunny for a time when we traveled with service and style. But many scenes reflect the blatant sexism of the time, almost with fondness. Flight attendants (who are, of course, called "stewardesses" here) must weigh in for work, get slapped on the bottom, are told to move their "fanny," etc., which chips away at their perceived independence.
Positive Role Models
The female characters are called "a new breed of woman" for the era, as they travel the world independently and make their own money. They are worldly and multilingual, and, in general, don't want to be married. But the women must also conform to rigid physical beauty standards (weight, hairstyle, dress), and there's zero racial diversity to speak of. The Pan Am "cover girl" is blonde, blue-eyed, and slender.
Violence & Scariness
Some tension and peril; one of the main characters stabs a male passenger with a cocktail pick when he comes on too strong.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing, making out, and simulated sex (shoulders, etc. shown while characters are in ed). Many liasions/affairs, including between characters who are involved with/married to others. Also lots of flirtatious talk.
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Words like "damn" and "hell" pop up. Also body-part terms like "fanny."
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Products & Purchases
Pan Am is no longer functional as an airline, but its logo is everywhere in the show.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The airplane itself is stocked with a full, visible bar, allowing passengers to drink martinis and the like in flight. After hours, the crew regularly meets for drinks, etc.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are some iffy messages here about sexism, thanks to the show's overly sunny and nostalgic tone. Female characters are portrayed as independent but must meet strict physical beauty standards (including regular weigh-ins); they also endure other sexist treatment from male (and a few female) colleagues that just wouldn't fly (pun intended) today. Social drinking is somewhat glamorized, too, and there's some light sexual content (mostly kissing) along with low-level language ("damn," "hell," etc.). The espionage subplot results in some tension and peril.
Is It Any Good?
For a while, Mad Men was the only TV show capitalizing on the look and feel of the 1960s, and it did so with sleek sophistication and a devilish wink. But in light of its success (and multiple Emmy Awards), other lookalikes began to emerge, including The Playboy Club and Pan Am. The only thing the three series really have in common, however, is their time period. Because the truth is, each show's attitude and approach is entirely different.
With a sweeping soundtrack and dreamy shots of sun-streaked skies, Pan Am takes the clear position that the 1960s was a golden era -- a time when air travel was still stylish and glamorous, before passengers were cranky and cramped. It was also a time when women were still expected to look and act a certain way, and these characters are all too happy to conform -- in a near-Stepford Wives fashion -- in exchange for the freedom of seeing the world. But instead of acknowledging and exploring that intriguing slice of women's social history, the series simply glosses over it with broad, sappy strokes.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.