Relationship Deep Dive: Pan Am Stewardesses

Pan Am Stewardesses in still from ABC's Pan Am
Source: ABC

Type: Platonic
Show: ABC’s Pan Am
Featured Characters: Maggie Ryan, Laura Cameron, Kate Cameron, and Colette Valois

Every so often an underrated gem manages to captivate us entirely right before it is unfairly axed, and ABC’s Pan Am is a prime example of a series with endless potential that wasn’t given the opportunity to grow. However, in its first and only season, it explored female friendships in a way that’s unfortunately (still) rare on television. It is frustrating how often females can be made into enemies for no real reason, but that was never the case with the Pan Am Stewardesses—from the first episode, the women were established as friends, and even when a new girl came into their circle, she was still welcomed as family. Maggie, Laura, Kate, and Colette looked out for each other, had fun together, and perhaps, most admirably, they always supported each other.

It didn’t matter if you came in yesterday or years ago, you were always safe with this group. It’s never easy being the new kid, even when you know someone, but that was never the case with Laura joining their flight. Laura may have been Kate’s younger sister, but when she joined the Pan Am Stewardesses, she became everyone’s sister. Maggie and Colette didn’t just see her as the girl on the cover of Time Magazine or Kate’s little sister, but they saw her as Laura: a new member of their team. And this team took care of each other; when one was in need of assistance, the others came through. And they never let too much time pass when someone on the flight was giving their sister a hard time. While the rest of the world saw Laura as the beauty behind the cover, the girls chose to get to know Laura, the woman on the inside.

On another note, I always found it so fascinating how easily the girls kept forgiving and loving one another—namely with Bridget. And this shouldn’t be shocking, but rather we’re so used to females being harsh with one another for the sake of drama on TV, it was a pleasant twist. Though she wasn’t always with them, because she was once a member of Pan Am, she remained cherished. At the end of the day, these women never turned against each other. Yes, they argued and disagreed on all sorts of matters, but it never escalated into something that would lead to hatred. They could argue, they could disagree, but they’d never stop being a family. And if anyone even dared to make one of them feel as though they were less than, they’d be there to pick them up. The girls clicked in a way that guaranteed forever, and if the series had continued, we are certain their bond would have grown even stronger. And yes, I’m still bitter. Don’t at me.

One of my all time favorite moments between the girls takes place inside the plane during a layover. Truth or dare leads to fun conversations, interesting confessions, and all around good time, but most beautifully, it’s this moment which showcases not only how comfortable they are with one another, but how safe they feel talking to each other. This bond doesn’t exist as closely with anyone else outside of these quarters.

These are not just women who believe in one another and understand each other, but they are the women who will care through the good, bad, and ugly. For even when they’d get upset with each other, even when they didn’t understand, they’d still fight for each other.

There was always drama on Pan Am, and even the Pan Am Stewardesses dealt with some pretty heavy storylines, but for the most part, Pan Am was a series that exemplified what female friendships should look like. At no point did any of the girls turn against each other. And though Kate and Bridget were spies, never once would they have turned on any of the girls. Secrets weren’t met with praise, but they weren’t met with malice either. And as mentioned above, if the series had gone on longer, there’s no doubt in our minds that these friendships would’ve evolved beautifully.

Each of the women had their own stories to tell, but their bond and the times they shared together was magic. It’s why the show is so easy to resist even with the abrupt ending because their friendship was special. In their during their darkest moments, they were always certain no one stood alone. No one would ever understand their journey as well as they do, and it was that very understanding that’ll always bring them back to each other. 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I loved every minute of it. I love us. And this. I love this.”

If the series had to tragically end, this was the perfect way it could have gone. This quote divided by each of the women voicing their opinions on the past year felt right. Profound in countless ways and beautiful — incredibly so. If you’re looking for a series with effortless and remarkably established relationships, Pan Am is the series for you. There hasn’t been something like it in a while.

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