I think I’ve finally decided what makes me so bonkers about Pan Am. You know that episode of Friends when Rachel accidentally puts beef in the traditional English trifle and no one can eat, especially Ross because he thinks it tastes like feet? And Joey’s over there chomping down like it’s the greatest thing he’s ever put in his mouth, all, “What’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Gooooood.” Pan Am is just like that, all these potentially delicious ingredients, but the way the writers are mixing them together just isn’t working for me.
Like “Diplomatic Relations.” In a single episode we’ve got a story about: the political tensions of Pan Am’s inaugural Cold War flight to Moscow (good!); a covert CIA operative working her first mission in the Soviet Union (good!); two flight attendants, one of them a former CIA agent, getting arrested and nearly abandoned behind the Iron Curtain (good!); a pilot navigating his way through a love triangle with two women who are both out of his league (a little less good); and the fiance of a co-pilot making a move on a flight attendant due to her latent lesbian tendencies (potentially gooooood). But the show still fell flat. There wasn’t any tension, any serious sense of ramifications, and, honestly, I’m afraid ABC is playing the lesbian card in a last-ditch effort to secure ratings. It wouldn’t be the first time. Hell, it wouldn’t be the first time this season. (Hello, Charlie.)
I guess we’re finally clear on the reason why Ted’s childhood sweetheart never would give him the time of day. And the reason she never called or wrote. And the reason she wouldn’t sleep with him even after they’d been dating a while after becoming grown-ups. The lady is a lezzer. Or, well, she’s got some serious feelings about other ladies, as evidenced by the fact that she sought out Maggie ten minutes after accepting Ted’s proposal and kissed her full on the mouth.
Maggie was dealing with her own emotional turmoil — her one boyfriend who works at The Village Voice used her as an anonymous source about her other boyfriend who is a nuclear-happy Congressman — so she was stomping her feet and crying her tears and shouting about, “Sometimes men are the worst and women are the best!” So she just leaned right into the lesbian kiss. Which, frankly, is perfectly in-character for Maggie.
We’ll see how Pan Am handles this story over the next three episodes. A little nuance, a little heart, a little authenticity and it could be a really lovely story. But I’m also prepared for it to smack of network desperation.
FEELINGS, FEELINGS, FEELINGS
Despite my cynicism, I admit: I swooned a little when Amanda applauded Maggie’s bravery and confessed to needing a shot of courage to follow her heart as well. The kiss initiator may have been Amanda, but it was Maggie who locked her lips first. I watched it a couple of times. You know, just to make sure.
Whooo, boy. Most of this episode played like a Yakov Smirnoff joke. I mean, yeah, Cold War tensions were high and times were terrifying, but did we really need the whole stern headmistress with the “In America, you assassinate presidents; in Soviet Russia, presidents assassinate you!” thing? It was a bit much. At one point, someone literally says, “In Russia KGB is always watching.”
Mostly, though, my Reminiscing Rudder was stuck on new pilot George Broyles, on account of the actor who plays him also plays tobacco magnate Lee Garner Jr. on Mad Men. I’ve never forgiven him for getting Saul fired after practically molesting him in the cutting room. And so if he and Dean had gotten trapped in the USSR, I wouldn’t have cried even a little bit.
I’ll tell you what: If ABC gives us the lesbian storyline we deserve, I will give it the proper breakdown it deserves, Judith Butler-style, in the next SnapCap. If it’s just more titillation, it doesn’t deserve to have post-structuralist queer theory applied to it.
What did you think of “Diplomatic Relations”?