Pan Am was a television series which aired on ABC in the USA. It focuses on four Pan Am stewardesses (Maggie Ryan, Kate Cameron, Laura Cameron and Colette Valois) and their two regular pilots (Dean Lowery and Ted Vanderway) during the airline's height of popularity in the 1960s. Expect lots and lots of Tropes On A Plane.Dueling Shows with NBC's The Playboy Club and both attempting to capture the success of Mad Men for primetime broadcast television. Neither attempt worked, though Pam Am barely "won" the duel by lasting a whole season before being quietly canceled.
Tropes found in Pan Am:
Affably Evil: Broyles is a smuggler who uses his personal relationship with Juan Trippe to get out of a lot of jams. That, and he is incredibly charming. He isn't an antagonist, but otherwise he fits this trope like a glove.
All Men Are Perverts: Ted and Sanjeev both go back "to get coffee" (even though Colette just brought some) when she mentions that Kate is taking her clothes off for the entertainment of the sailors they're flying. But not to worry...
Colette: I said she was taking her clothes off, but I didn't say who was putting them on.
Dean: (Rolling his eyes) Sailors...
The Beard: How Amanda sees Ted if they get married.
The Bechdel Test: Passes with flying colors. Surprisingly inverted with the men on the show, for the first few episodes, at least. It seemed that whenever they talked to each other, it was always about the women. That changed in "Eastern Exposure" where a lot of their dialogue centered around how Dean was able to make flight captain despite nearly 50 first officers above him in seniority.
Berserk Button: Colette really does not like Germany given that her entire family was killed by the Nazis. Of course, given that she's the most outwardly calm stewardess of the lot, she only shows this indirectly, such as by singing the Nazi national anthem at a party honoring US/West German partnership.
Big Applesauce: Subverted. The crew's home base is in New York, but every episode features a flight to at least one location overseas.
Black Sheep: Kate was considered to be this in her family.
Blatant Lies: Maggie's life turns out to be pretty much built on this.
Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Laura (blonde), Maggie and Colette (brunettes), and Kate (redhead). Bridget initially filled the blonde role.
Bottle Episode: Episode 8 takes place almost completely on the plane and tarmac in Haiti and the events seem to take place within roughly an hour or two, rather than several locations and a few days like most episodes.
Cold War: Discussed by the various CIA and MI6 operatives Kate deals with; international flight crewmembers make great intelligence assets because their jobs provide them with built-in covers. Intercontinental flights during this era weren't exactly safe, though, and neither was spying. Bridget learns both lessons to her cost.
Cool Plane: Clipper Majestic, the Boeing 707-321 the crew routinely flies. Naming the plane is actually Truth in Television, as all Pan Am's aircraft were named Clipper—a nod to the days when the airline predominantly flew Boeing 314 "Clipper" flying boats, and the airline's "island-hopping" transoceanic routes were thus known as the Clipper Service.
Creepy Child: Charlie has shades of this when he breaks into Colette's hotel room in the middle of the night while she's asleep and stands over her bed.
Crew of One: Captain Lowrey and First Officer Vanderway have a heated argument on final approach to Hong Kong about the Captain's handling of the plane. While such an argument between pilots may seem like an dramatic exaggeration there is actually some truth to such a situation. In the days before such things as 'Crew Resource Management' came along in 1980s commercial Captains would often have a My Way or the Highway attitude to flying.
Some pretty clear examples in the way the stewardesses are treated, but others include the strong taboo against interracial relationships (shown in the outcome of the public display between Laura and a black sailor) and the treatment of women's sexuality.
A rather subtle example is how when one of the stewardesses gets married, it's presumed that she will quit (this is the reason why everyone thought Bridget quit), however no such assumption is made about the male pilots.
Dirty Communists: The first Pan Am flight to Moscow goes pretty awry thanks to some less than hospitable KGB agents. Invoked strongly in-universe in conjunction with Red Scare, especially by the intelligence agents that Kate has contact with.
Dueling Shows: With The Playboy Club. Both are considered to be knock-offs of Mad Men to boot. And this show is the big winner, as Playboy Club was cancelled after just three episodes before the show had even premiered
Eek, a Mouse!!: Laura is set to screaming from on top of the bed in her hotel room when a lizard drops onto her from the bed canopy. Maggie picks it up and calmly puts it outside...only to join Laura on the bed when she finds a snake in the bathroom.
Almost all of Kate's schemes when her missions go awry demonstrate her ingenuity and ability to force others to do what she wants through manipulation (for instance, using a combination of eliciting sympathy and blackmail to get Anastasia and Broyles to help her when Laura and Bridget get taken by the KGB)
Rather more tragically: "He'll pull through. He has to."
How We Got Here: Some episodes show the events of a single flight, mixed with flashbacks to explain how all the girls are acting.
I Am Spartacus: The girls pull this when asked which one of them brought the Haitian girl aboard.
Improvised Weapon: Maggie fends off a drunk and horny passenger with a carving fork when said passenger attempts to sexually assault her in the plane's galley. Complete with Bond One-Liner, "I am not included in the price of your ticket!"
Indy Ploy: How Kate gets an East German courier whose cover has been blown to safety in "Ich Bin Ein Berliner."
Jerk Ass: A lot of the passengers on the Caracas flight, but the guy who tries to steal his suitcase back after everyone's been ordered to lighten the plane is probably the most explicit
The first scene we see Ted's dad in he is refusing to help his son get back into the Navy test pilot program because it would involve looking for the flaw in the plane's design Ted claims crashed the plane...which, since his company has a contract to make that plane, would cost him a lot of money.
Episode four is actually episode two (it's production code is PA-102). Unfortunately the shuffle puts the launch of Mercury 9 (May 16th 1963), seen on the TV, after episode three's JFK's Berlin speech (June 26th 1963).
Also "Romance Languages" is shown several weeks late and resolves several plot threads that were skipped over in running order (When did Laura take the nude photos? When did Ginny and Dean break up?).
Politically Correct History: In some ways. Although smoking was much more accepted in The Sixties (and even allowed on planes), nobody does so on screen. However when a black sailor has a budding romance with Laura in public, he gets assaulted.
Also, no one freaks out when Maggie mentions that Amanda kissed her on the lips, in a time period where gay people were generally thought to be predatory perverts.
Product Placement: Inverted. The production company licensed the name and logo of a well-known defunct airline to promote the show. There is a 'Pan Am' surviving, though, a small railroad company in New England.
Public Exposure: Laura admits during a game of Truth or Dare that she had the photographer that was following her around take nude photos of her.
Ransacked Room: Kate finds her hotel room in shambles and thinks that someone was looking for the camera she's supposed to deliver. It was actually Laura and Maggie discovering that Reptiles Are Abhorrent (see above).
Red Scare: Kate's handlers often invoke this trope.
Played for Laughs in "Truth or Dare" when, while carrying a group of sailors home, one of them starts talking to her about a "traitor" and "defector." Kate, of course, assumes this is a contact and one of the others is about to defect to the Soviets, but it turns out the sailor in question is really "betraying" their noble bachelor ranks, and the "contact" wants Kate to provide the entertainment.
Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Laura rejects Ted's advances in Berlin, but then starts regretting that after finding out he's not as much of a jerk as he seems and as he pursues romance with a childhood friend.
Woman Scorned: Maggie decides to get back at Kate after she steals the guy she had her eye on.
What the Hell, Hero?: Maggie gets called out by her English professor, who has figured out that she is not who she says she is. She took the place, and name, of a student who was dropping out. She did brilliantly, but he couldn't give her the grade she earned because she wasn't even his student.
Maggie gets called out again by Colette for ratting out Dean and Ginny's affair to his superior.