Based on the shocking true story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s (in)famous sex tape, Pam & Tommy thrusts audiences into the middle of a tale of passion and betrayal at the birth of the last lawless frontier…the Internet. Pamela Anderson is a bombshell actress on the rise. Tommy Lee is an established rockstar. Their love burns hot, moves fast, and is fueled by sex, sex, and more sex. When a disgruntled contractor retaliates against the couple by stealing a safe from their home, what he discovers will change the world as we know it. An intimate sex tape meant for the privacy of a single couple suddenly becomes a cultural touchstone — seen by millions, discussed by all and an enterprise that the seediest of characters want a piece of.
Pam & Tommy stars Lily James as Pamela Anderson and Sebastian Stan as Tommy Lee. They are joined by Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman, Taylor Schilling, and Andrew Dice Clay with an extra special appearance by Jason Mantzoukas.
The heartbeat of Pam & Tommy is its raw, unflinching love story. Pam and Tommy’s love is messy and consuming, as tender as it is tantric. The series allows this relationship at the center to be absurd and hopelessly romantic and allows that sort of balance to extend to each of its characters. This story is a bizarre blip in the lives of those involved and a ripple in our shared cultural experience and Pam & Tommy treats it as the wholly human clusterfuck that it is.
Lily James and Sebastian Stan set a new bar for performance as Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. These characters are easy (and tempting) to lampoon and James and Stan manage to find the perfect mix of leaning into the ridiculous while embracing reality and the sincere emotion of this experience. The love story of Pam & Tommy hinges on the tragic truth that Pamela and Tommy can only lean on each other during the aftermath of the sex tape being released, while also coming to the understanding that their relationship is not ready to survive something like this.
Beyond its dazzling sense of humor, Pam & Tommy provides a solid foundation for its weightier discussion of morality and Pamela’s journey as a victim of this invasion. This narrative is all about space and place and a new digital world that was evolving faster than our culture could comprehend it. While watching Pam & Tommy the viewer is caught in the tension between the familiar and the foreign. The current viewing audience is Internet literate and has had decades of rewriting the moral code. Celebrity sex tapes are nothing new. Nudity is blase. Pornography is so common online that it represents a meme majority, of sorts.
Pam and Tommy’s sex tape barely registers as a big deal, in our sexually saturated media landscape. However, seeing a person become a victim of their partner’s choices. Watching a woman experience the dismemberment of her character, while her male counterpart gets high fives. The violation of having your sexual self perceived, distributed, and consumed without consent. Those are timeless evils and strike a deep emotional core. Pam & Tommy gives this story the honest analysis it deserves, through the sympathy of cultural hindsight.
Pam & Tommy is vulgar and vulnerable. The series is respectful of its subjects but doesn’t handle them with kid gloves. It’s got teeth, heart, sex appeal, and a hearty laugh. As far as I’m concerned, Pam & Tommy is the total package.
Pam & Tommy premieres with its first three episodes on February 2, 2022, with new episodes to stream weekly on Hulu.
Pam & Tommy
- Rating - 8/108/10
Caitlin is a sweater enthusiast, film critic, and lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began with being shown Rosemary’s Baby at a particularly impressionable age and she’s been hooked ever since. She loves a good bourbon and hates people who talk in movies. Caitlin has been writing since 2014 and you can find her work on Film Inquiry, The Financial Diet, Nightmarish Conjurings, and many others.