ABC’s Pan Am Television Series Continues To Grow In Viewership


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ABC’s Pan Am Television Series Continues To Grow In Viewership

By Mike Mitchell

October 2, 2011 - The Pan Am drama on ABC which premiered on the 25th of last month is tuning out to be a big hit. ABC’s Pan Am television series centers on the iconic airline Pan American World Airways during the 1960s. The period drama, from writer Jack Orman (ER) and director Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing), focuses on the pilots and stewardesses working for the world-famous airline in 1963. 

The series, which is produced by Sony Pictures Television, was picked up by ABC TV in May 2011 for the 2011–2012 television seasons. Sony licensed the rights to the Pan Am name and logo from Pan Am Systems, a New Hampshire–based railroad company that acquired the Pan Am brand in 1998. 

The show was given a 67 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 18 reviews, indicating generally favorable reviews. Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe gave the show a "B" grade, commenting, "Next to The Playboy Club it's the better network 1960s drama.

The romance and the attractively stylized innocence of the era is addictive, but the espionage plot, with its link to political history, is absurd. And the female empowerment message grows feeble." The Insider included Pan Am in its list of 10 Best New Fall TV Shows.

Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until its financial collapse on December 4, 1991. Founded in 1927 as a scheduled air mail and passenger service operating between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba, the airline became a major company credited with many innovations that shaped the international airline industry, including the widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized reservation systems.  

Identified by its blue globe logo and the use of the word "Clipper" in aircraft names and call signs, the airline was a cultural icon of the 20th century and the unofficial flag carrier of the United States. Pan Am's flagship terminal was the Worldport located at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. 

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), the world's largest Flight Attendant union, recognizes the season premiere of Pan Am as a reminder of the extraordinary accomplishments of Flight Attendants at the forefront of the jet age, and one step ahead of the women's rights movement: 

"The premiere episode of the new Pan Am drama on ABC may be a nostalgic escape to the days before deregulation, but it also highlighted the myriad of social injustices overcome by the strong women who shaped a new career.  Weight checks, girdle checks, the no marriage rule, sexism, gender discrimination, racism - all of this was challenged by intelligent, visionary women who helped to usher in the call for social change throughout the country and around the world.


"As union members, the generation that crewed 1960s Pan American World Airways and their other airline counterparts, Flight Attendants fortified their voice to press airline management and Capitol Hill for equal rights, recognition of their work and improved aviation health and safety standards that benefit the traveling public. 

Negotiating contract improvements for middle class pay, proper rest, health care and retirement benefits ensured the skilled 'stewardesses' set career standards that provided new opportunities for all women and men.  These safety professionals - now certified by the Federal Aviation Administration - set the stage for continued social awakening including equal benefits such as recognizing domestic partners. 

"Today, nearly half a century later, we stand on the shoulders of the profession our predecessors helped to build, even as we tackle the new challenges created by an industry that increasingly demands more from Flight Attendants.  After a decade lost to bankruptcies and attacks on the career, Flight Attendants are again focused on the future of aviation and advancing the careers of cabin crew. 

"The fictional, glamorized world of Hollywood's Pan Am is a far cry from today's realities of air travel that ditches high fashion for 'low cost,' jam-packed airplanes and massive cuts to Flight Attendant staffing.  Every day Flight Attendants save lives, de-escalate conflicts, and remain ever vigilant to security in a post-9/11 world.

"Today we remain focused on improving conditions for Flight Attendants and as we have for over six decades.  We promote our role as first responder and the last line of defense in aviation security.  It's a new day; our historical career advancements provide hope and a reminder of what we can achieve together.  In a political environment stacked against workers, Flight Attendants are again poised to make history."

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