Margot Robbie finally explains what went wrong with ‘Pan Am’

Vanity Fair’s new cover profile on Margot Robbie is getting a lot of attention on social media thanks to its ruminations on the 26-year-old actress, the blonde “girl next door” with “painfully blue” eyes who is tall, but only in the right pair of shoes. Just read it.

However, buried in the story, Robbie helpfully gives some answers to a mystery going all the way back to the 2011-2012 TV season: What went wrong with “Pan Am”? ABC’s drama about 1960s airline stewardesses, starring Robbie, Christina Ricci and Kelli Garner, got a lot of attention. As Vanity Fair points out, that sort of throwback drama was all the rage on TV at the time, thanks to “Mad Men.” The premiere earned about 11 million viewers on its Sunday night, fall 2011 premiere, but ratings fell quickly, and ABC canceled the series after just 14 episodes.

In Vanity Fair, Robbie - who played Laura, a new flight attendant who had left her fiance at the altar — explains that the show suffered from an affliction we like to call Early Ratings Panic.

“As soon as it went on-air, they were like, ‘No, we didn’t get the ratings we want — let’s get a whole new crew of writers and make it more like ‘Housewives,’” Robbie said. “And you’re like, ‘What? That’s so not what the show was going to be.’”

In other words, ABC may have been looking for another hit to replace the aging “Desperate Housewives,” the long-running drama series that would end in May 2012. Ultimately, Robbie implies, the quick change-up in direction tanked the show.

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“After the fifth episode, you see this abrupt change in content. If they’re rehiring writers, it’s obviously not doing well,” Robbie said.

Around late November 2011, cast member Karine Vanasse tweeted about filming one more episode of the show, and many interpreted that meant the series canceled — ABC denied this and said it was still “in contention” for a Season 2 pickup. Yet after a few more episodes aired in winter 2012 (averaging around 7 million people a week including DVR), the show was never to be seen again.

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