Sunday night may just offer up the most anticipated premiere of the season, and while it has nary an LGBT character -- yet -- it offers enough '60s cheeky panache to make it a must-see. Here are 10 reasons you should be watching Pan Am.
1. It's better than The Playboy Club. Yes, that show might have sexy characters played by bisexual actress Amber Heard and hottie Eddie Cibrian, but Pan Am offers a bevy of largely empowered women in blue pencil skirts instead of quasi-empowered women in blue bunny outfits. Not a single one of them a slouch in the looks department.
2. The show, which inhabits a far more optimistic and much less misogynist '60s world than Mad Men does, is full of glamour. Every single character looks like he or she was styled by a one of the gay guys from Project Runway. Remember that was when folks still dressed up in fancy duds for their domestic flights. Imagine an airline trip with no hoodies or flip-flops (or those ugly Ziploc baggies you have to trot out of your luggage at the TSA counter).
3. It'll remind you of a time when flying really was a wonderful luxury. Even if you aren't old enough to remember what flight was like in the Pan Am era, the hour-long drama does a great job of capturing the spirit of a time when only 10% of the population flew.
4. Christina Ricci. The one actress we can all agree on: She played a lesbian in Monster, played a friend of the gays in The Opposite of Sex, and has starred in many a queer girl's adolescent fantasies since her turn in The Addams Family. On Pan Am she's a boho living in Greenwich Village who plays it straight to see the world. Ricci told reporters at this summer's TV critics press junket, "I always remember in my performance that this is something that is exciting. And every time we step on the plane, we are as excited just like the passengers are. And it's glamorous, and these stewardesses were looked at as really glamorous sort of symbols." I know I'm excited watching her.
5. Dating a Pan Am flight attendant used to be something movie stars were proud of. Seriously. When was the last time you heard George Clooney was dating a flight attendant from Southwest?
6. The outfits are a femme's wet dream. Tight blue suits, white gloves, perfectly positioned hats. Yes, they had oppressive image standards -- with daily weigh-ins -- but at least they call their support garments girdles and not Spanx, and nobody pretends they're about female empowerment on the show.
7. The show is correcting some cultural wrongs. Pan Am feels like it's set on the precipice of change: The '60s were a cultural revolution and flight attendants had one foot in and one foot out. At the intersection of women's rights, gay rights, and black civil rights, we're hopeful to see where Pan Am will go and whether producers will correct some of history's wrongs while staying historically accurate. Producer-director Thomas Schlamme told Entertainment Weekly the show will introduce an African-American flight attendant this season even though the first black stewardess didn't appear on a flight until the mid '60s. Can gay characters be far behind?
8. The entire cast is hot. Michael Mosley and Mike Vogel are sexy pilots who are sure to be shirtless at some point. Besides Ricci, there are several up-and-coming female stars, including Kelli Garner (who tongued Amber Tamblyn in Normal Adolescent Behavior), Margot Robbie (an Aussie who probably isn't gay but does have a female roommate, so a girl can dream), and Karine Vanasse (who played a teen discovering she might be a lesbian in Lea Pool's French film Set Me Free).
9. A woman created it. The show is based on the experiences of Nancy Hult Ganis, who was a Pan Am flight attendant for seven years. She told reporters at the summer junket, "It was the most exciting time of my life." And that comes through in the show. Back when most Americans didn't even have passports, Pan Am stewardesses like Ganis were considered world adventurers. Pan Am, says Ganis was a lifestyle, not a job, and you can feel that watching the show.
10. There's some unexpected intrigue. Surprisingly, there's some spy drama in Pan Am. If you tune in expecting nothing but glamour and romance, you may be surprised to get hints of the upcoming excitement of espionage as well. This is definitely not Playboy Club in the Sky. Whether the espionage will play with or against the show's subversive campiness remains to be seen, but count me in as an early fan.
The first episode of ABC's Pan Am airs this Sunday at 10 p.m. Eastern.