By Aaron M. Crilly
This past month saw the release of “Pam And Tommy” on Disney+, the R Rated limited series tells the story of one of the 90s most infamous pop culture event and an event that help launched the internet porn industry as well, The Making and Leaking of Pamela Anderson and her then husband Tommy Lee’s Sex Tape.
The first episode sets up the events of the entire series and sees a disgruntled builder (played by a rare beardless Seth Rogan) who after being fired by an unhinged Lee, decides to break into Anderson and Lee’s house in order to get back at them by stealing a safe where within it he finds the now infamous sex tape. Which by using his connections in both the porn and web industries, uses it to create the first online porn video.
Now before I get into my typical review of the piece, there is one thing that I want to note and that is around the issue of consent. In the lead up to the release of this series a lot of people online and in the media noted the irony of having a show about a woman’s consent and personal life being ignored for financial gain being accused of doing the same thing to the woman in question, Anderson, who according to friends did not get involved with or was even contacted by the makers of this show and has apparently no intention what so ever of watching this show due to trauma that the real events has given her over the years. I would like to iterate that I totally understand Ms Anderson’s position and feelings on this matter and I hope something like the events that are portrayed in this series does not happen again.
The series which is due to end in the next couple of weeks is largely directed and overseen by Craig Gillespe (who is behind such recent classic films such as “I,Tonya” and last years surprisingly good Disney live action remake, “Cruella”) and stars an unrecognisable Lily James as Pamela Anderson and Sebastian Stan as Tommy Lee.
I must say that this series handles the whole events in a very sensitive manner. Rather than make the whole piece a crude joke it reflects the trauma that the real Pamela Anderson and even Tommy Lee would have felt through the whole experience, it examines the nasty moral superiority that the media and late night hosts such as Jay Leno had treated the couple with and I can guarantee you that in the scenes that Pam and Tommy are crying and upset, you will be too. This is, undoubtedly, in credit to both the acting talents of James and Stan but also to the writers as well.
The series also has one of the most bizarre and yet heartfelt scenes I have seen ever put onto screen when the confused Tommy Lee who after spending his first night with Pamela, has a sort of therapy session with his own talking penis…. Yes you read that right. During the scene (based on an imagined conversation Lee wrote about in his book) which also some how reminds me of the relationship between Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Tommy’s talking Penis gives him advice that he should allow himself to fall in love in order to be happy again after a recent break up. It really adds another meaning to the term “The Way to a Man’s Heart is through his penis”
Meanwhile Gillespe entertains the audience with his talent behind the camera, giving the audience a taste of his unique post modern rock inspired style on the episodes that he directed along with his now infamous usage of a soundtrack with both popular and obscure music from various genres that would make even Taratino and James Gunn go green with envy.
I must applaud this series for the way it has enlightened me on the inner world and the real personality of Pamela Anderson; before this series the image that I had of her was one of the ditzy talentless actress from the terrible Baywatch but this series taught me that there was more to her off screen, that she is a kind, caring, intelligent woman whose full potential and talent was never recognised or respected by the Hollywood community and who was only seen as eye candy by the sex crazed media. As well as someone who was unjustly slut shamed for years as well due to the actions of a vindictive former employee who should have had no issue with her.
Pam and Tommy may be about an event from the 90s, but its a show that can teach us about today as well.