Eight-episode Series PAM & TOMMY thrust its way onto our radar the moment we saw that first look photo of Lily James transforming amazingly into a dead-ringer for Pamela Anderson. Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya, Disney’s Cruella) once again brings us a fascinating glimpse into the world of a misunderstood heroine and we’re here for it.
The ’90s-set Series is very intentional in its nostalgic references, whether it be in its Soundtrack, or keen attention to details in set decor and costumes. Just as many of us were getting our first dial-up modem and signing-up for our first e-mail addresses in the mid-90s, it was impossible to avoid the controversy of Mötley Crüe Drummer Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) and Pamela Anderson‘s Sex Tape Scandal. The VHS tape, recorded during the former couple’s honeymoon, was stolen by Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen), a spiteful electrician owed money by Lee, who had been hired to do some renovation work in their home. Gauthier then began reproducing copies of the tape for sale, before things got out of hand, the tape continued to get pirated and surfaced online before Lee and Anderson even knew how to long onto the internet.
James is just superb as Anderson, really embodying her as a woman in love who wants nothing more than to be a mom, an Actress determined to advance her career, and when probed indignantly about her sexual past. All this, while being the blonde bombshell in a bikini whom America loved. Whether she is tilting her head up defensively or cautiously looking backwards at fans crowding around her, we believe every second that she is Anderson. Stan while given less to work with as the clueless Lee, gives it his all still and is in on the joke and all of Lee‘s absurdities. Similar can be said about Rogen, who is cast well as our eyes and ears into Pam & Tommy‘s world, but also acting often before thinking.
One thing we were fearful of with PAM & TOMMY was that it was taking the couple’s misfortune for the sake of entertainment. After all, wasn’t it enough that they had to go through it all once? Much of the earlier part of the Series has us being annoyed at the hormone-charged escapades between the couple, them oblivious to much else other than themselves. We also get to know Gauthier and establishing the motives for doing what he did. To be frank, these parts could have been condensed into an episode or two.
Where PAM & TOMMY truly takes flight is where we see Gauthier begin to face the consequences of his actions, not exactly getting rewarded for his “big business venture”. Writer Robert D. Siegel explores the impacts of this tape on the couple’s marriage and more so on Anderson‘s career. She seemed to be on the brink of something huge. No disrespect to her legacy. The Series examines gender double standards and how Anderson bears the weight of scrutiny and judgment as a woman, and also the question of consent which still bears just as much today in 2022 as it did when this controversy surfaced. In looking back at it all through fresh lens, we hope viewers not only see the Series as entertaining and often comical, but that what had taken place was a crime with lasting impacts.
PAM & TOMMY streams on Star, via Disney+ February 2, 2022.
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