Gay Girl’s Goggles: “Pan Am” SnapCap (1.07)


When only four percent of scripted TV shows feature LGBT characters, what’s a gay girl to do? Why, strap on your gay goggles and watch TV along with us, of course! Our handy appraisal scale is better than any old letter grade. Other sites A+. We say, “What about our lezzy-lady feelings?”

It’s been a weird week for Pan Am, huh? ABC doled out full-season pick-ups like Halloween candy: One for you, Once Upon a Time! And one for you, Whatever The Name of Tim Allen‘s Sitcom Is! And one for you, Revenge! And one for you, Happy Endings! And none for Pan Am! Bye! The network did order five more Pan Am scripts, though, and they handed the reins to a new showrunner, Steven Maeda, former producer of a little drama called Lost. Can it get better? Hell yeah. This show has enormous potential. Will it get better? It will if they push Dean out of the plane mid-flight! Let Collette do it!


Pan Am gave us another women-centric episode in “Truth or Dare,” but it was a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, we were focused solely on Kate and Laura’s love lives. But on the other hand, those love lives dealt with race relations and the dangers of international espionage. There are worse kinds of hetero-soap fests, I guess.


At this point in their arc, we should definitely have been more invested in the love story of star-crossed Kate and Niko than in the single-episode lovelieness of Laura and Sailor Joe. Kate accidentally fell for Niko, then accidentally agreed to turn him into a double-agent for the CIA, then accidentally had him dragged from her apartment by field agents in the middle of the night. That’s a lot of whoops-es over only three episodes. She was in anguish, he was in anguish, the always overwrought Pan Am score was in anguish. But watching them mostly made me feel like, “Blah, blah, blah, when’s Kate going to get it sorted that she’s a homo?”

Laura and Sailor Joe, though? That was some sweet and surprisingly nuanced storytelling. Pan Am is lazy with the unnecessary flashbacks, but I loved how they gave us a full look at full days with those two. From the bonding on the plane over their overbearing mothers, to Laura locking and unlocking and locking her door again when Joe went to sleep on her couch, to her grabbing his hand in the train station and then full-on making out with him after confessing that racism scares her, but that she’s so very into him. It was the hand-holding that really got me.


I’m actually a little surprised that Pan Am tackled race relations, but what I’m fully shocked about is that they did it in a way that was appropriately awkward and adorable. It juuuust skirted the PSA-y hijinks that usually make me want to smash my head into a wall. I think Gaius Charles would be an excellent full-time addition to this cast. I mean, I know it’s the ’60s, but Pan Am really needs some people of color. And Charles can act circles around every other dude on this show. And there is so much to explore if he and Laura actually try to make a go of a relationship. Last night was the first night Laura was interesting to me even a little bit. And the ways her story could branch out if they intersected with an African-American sailor boyfriend? That’d be some good stuff.


The best part of “Truth or Dare” was the throwaway moment when Collette cleared out the cockpit by telling Ted and Sanjeev that Kate was stripping so she could charm Dean into letting her fly the plane. If that ten seconds somehow led to Collette zooming through pilot training and taking over the Clipper Majestic, this show would be TEN BADRILLION times better. Hell, if Collette had anything resembling consistent screentime, this show would be ten badrillion times better.

Are you still hanging in there with Pan Am? What do you want to see the writers do to save this show?

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