Hulu miniseries taps into the characters it aims to humanize
Hulu’s “Pam and Tommy” is a true-crime docudrama with an emphasis on drama. The twist is that the crime at the center of the story isn’t a crime at all. Spoilers ahead.
Based on a 2014 Rolling Stone article, the show gives viewers a front row seat to Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee’s whirlwind romance and sex tape scandal. which dissolved their marriage just as dramatically. Part of the show’s appeal is the ability for viewers to check facts in real time; for example, those confused by the talking penis scene in the second episode might be interested to learn that it was inspired by Tommy Lee’s memoir, in which he argues with his appendage. The full eight episodes of “Pam and Tommy” are available to stream on Hulu.
Nudity plays a big part in the early episodes of “Pam and Tommy,” which isn’t surprising given his massive prosthetic budget. Sebastian Stan (Tommy Lee) wore fake penises made from a 3D mold of his own body and prosthetic nipples to mimic Lee’s signature nipple rings. Lily James (Pamela Anderson) wore prosthetic breasts, a fake forehead and a dental piece, not to mention at least three wigs to achieve Pamela’s bombshell blonde look. The incredibly detailed prosthetics almost completely transformed the actors into their famous characters.
And their transformation wasn’t just superficial – Stan and James immersed themselves in their characters, rarely seeing themselves out of character during the show’s production, and the authenticity of their performances is what makes this show worthy. be watched. Stan perfectly encapsulated Tommy Lee’s wild energy and fierce loyalty, and James nailed Pamela Anderson’s sweet yet sultry disposition. Rounding out a trio of excellent performances, Seth Rogen plays Rand Gauthier, the former carpenter responsible for stealing and distributing the sex tape. Rogen lost around 30 pounds for the role, and his portrayal of Gauthier as an insecure guy with a weird fascination with theology is refreshing and funny in the right way.
“Pam and Tommy” leans heavily on ’90s nostalgia, which is most effective in the early episodes and is key in reminding viewers that this is the transition period right before the era of Internet. In later episodes, however, there is too much emphasis on nostalgic elements. The soundtrack is overloaded with 80s and 90s hits, and frequent references to throwbacks (including a Third Eye Blind cameo) begin to distract from the serious points the show tries to make about the confidentiality and consent. Some of the later flashback scenes are edited to have a “vintage” quality, but look rather contrived and over-edited. However, for a Gen Z, watching Gauthier explain the internet to porn moguls was a fun reminder of just how different the world is.
Anderson-Lee’s tape wasn’t just the world’s first internet sextape scandal; it was also the first example of celebrity revenge pornography. In 2017, Rob Kardashian job nude photos of rapper Blac Chyna on Instagram without his consent. What followed was a national conversation about non-consensual pornography, with the Kardashian incident being the most high-profile test case for California’s revenge porn law passed in 2013. The law was first signed into law in 2014 by Kamala Harris, and more states have implemented non-consensual pornography laws since the Kardashian lawsuit.
Unfortunately for Anderson, who unquestionably faced more negative repercussions after the leaked tape than Lee, the world has yet to recognize his non-consensual pornography leak as a crime. One of the most emotional moments in the series occurs when Lee and Anderson find out that a lawsuit filed against Penthouse has been dismissed. Penthouse had acquired a copy of the tape, and the lawsuit was filed to stop the magazine from publishing stills from the video. They discovered that the basis for the dismissal was Anderson’s work posing nude for Playboy and her status as an international sex symbol, prompting James to deliver one of the show’s hard-hitting lines: “Bitches don’t decide not what happens to the pictures of their bodies.” James’ portrayal of Anderson’s chilling realization that the tape had been stolen, his frustrations with Lee for not understanding his devastation, and his reaction to being fired marked it as the show’s standout performance.
It’s easy to root for Gauthier de Rogan in the early episodes when Stan’s performance as the out-of-touch, self-absorbed, and reckless Lee is exceptionally compelling. At first, Gauthier’s methodical, yet comical, home invasion seems justifiable. Some would say that exposure, good or bad, is the motto of celebrities. However, after watching James’ Anderson be blindsided by awkward questions about the tape during a live interview with Jay Leno, belittled by her husband and lawyers and lose his chance to break out of sex symbol status for himself. establish as a respected actress, reality sets in. It was a crime – not a victimless crime.
There is a fan community that condemned “Pam and Tommy” due to sources close to Anderson expressing that she felt taken advantage of by the show. The show’s creators and James herself reached out to Anderson hoping for her involvement, but ultimately received no response. Lee offered his support for the show, telling Entertainment Tonight “It’s a cool story and people need to know” in 2021. Anderson didn’t consent to the story being told, which confuses the discussion. of “Pam and Tommy” on consent and privacy with hypocrisy. The stellar acting performances humanized Anderson and Lee, and the show came across right in its narrative. But as a viewer, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was further violating the real Pam and Tommy watching their story unfold in eight episodes that one of the main subjects didn’t consent to.
And I am; Hollywood is designed to feed the amoral appetites of society with no empathy for the real people behind the story. It’s showbiz, baby.
Shiloh Clark can be reached at [email protected].