Pam and Tommy

Anthonioni Scalepini
6 min readMar 10, 2022

Shout at the Devil…

In the opening of the final episode of “Pam and Tommy,” Motley Crue is at a Tower Records promoting their upcoming release “Generation Swine,” an album I’ve never heard (although I’m listening to it now and so far it’s not good). Tommy talks about the album being “90s Crue,” insinuating the sound is fresh but the Crue sound is still there. The band gets on stage to play a track off the album to a parking lot crowd. As the song plays a group of teens walk up with Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden t-shirts on, giving the band a bewildered look and clearly not hipping to the new Motley Crue groove (I am 35 going on 70). Tommy behind the skins sees the kids and their disdain for the music, and is promptly disappointed.

Before I get into this last episode, which was a fitting ending that mostly satisfied me, I want to talk about music, specifically how a band can be at the top in one decade and at the bottom in the next, and just how different the music business is these days (I say that like I’m a part of it. In reality, I’m just a music fan that loves to analyze the industry from afar, almost like a hobby). In the 1980s, Motley Crue was one of the biggest bands on the planet. They sold millions upon millions of albums. They played the biggest and best venues all around the globe. In 1989, the band released “Dr. Feelgood” the absolute peak of their recording career. The narrative around bands like Motley Crue (bands like Poison, Ratt, and other glam rock bands of the 80s, and also a lot of the bands I love which are not like Motley Crue… bands like Anthrax and Megadeth) is that grunge music came in the early 90s and killed the 80s rock sound. As someone who was raised in the 90s, someone who loves a lot of the 90s rock, I would probably have to agree with this narrative. However, a more likely explanation is you only have so much great music in your soul. It’s rare for any band or artist to have decade after decade of great music, and even more rare for an artist to have longevity in an industry where trends are constantly changing. Sometimes you have your time and that’s all you get. One album you’re selling millions of copies of your record and the next you barely go gold (which is still pretty damn impressive). One tour you’re selling out Madison Square Garden and the next you barely sell out CBGBs. Of course, at the moment one tends to blame the people rather than the circumstance. Alice in Chains did not kill Motley Crue. Nowadays Motley Crue can go on tour without having put out a new album in the past 14 years, and sell out stadiums because nostalgia sells. If only bands today had that luxury. We live in a time where no one buys albums, and the only way to make money as a band is to tour relentlessly and hope all the merch sells. There was a time when you could make music and get rich, and that time has passed. I know there are still ways to make a living making music, however, the way it was done is not the way it’s done now. I’ve listened to almost all of “Generation Swine” and this album is just not good. Although the riffs on “Let Us Prey” are pretty heavy.

Okay, so this finale. Let me start by saying this is the perfect show to binge. It will take you a weekend to finish, it will entertain you, it will make you feel, it will make you laugh. I’ve pretty much said all I need to say about it. I think it’s a solid show with moments of messiness. I think it would have worked better as a film. I think it tries to make us sympathize with Rand, the dude that stole the safe with the tape in it, and that was a bad choice. Ultimately, the show corrects itself (for the most part) and shines a light on the plight of Pam Anderson. In the final episode, some of the choices were questionable at best so let’s start with those. First of all, it tries to sell retribution to Rand which is just plain terrible. They really double down on this device of Rand trying to find recompense and it’s just plain wrong. Rand goes to a Tarot Reader and has his reading done. He sees the Star and realizes he’s wronged Pam, and that wrong is the wrong that needs to be righted. If he had any consideration for Pam Anderson he wouldn’t have put the stolen tape out on the internet in the first place. Trying to play Rand as attempting to reclaim his karma by selling the original to the dude from Seattle who owns the webcam site, then giving the money to his ex to complete their divorce, is missing the point of his transgressions in the first place. The Rand character is a hard nut to crack, but I feel like the writer’s attempts were half-cocked.

If you know the story of Pam and Tommy in real life, you know the couple did not make it. Tommy Lee in this episode, you feel for him but his retorts to Pam about him being on the tape as well always fell flat for me. That’s definitely the fatal flaw for Tommy Lee the character and it was necessary for where the story was inevitably going to end. And maybe I’m judging that character for not being as attentive to Pam as he should have been, but it just bugged me.

Pam shined so bright in the previous two episodes (and in the show as a whole), in this final episode she just never reaches those previous heights. Lily James is fantastic in this episode, though. In the climax of the episode, and of the Pam and Tommy marriage, after a failed attempt to escape the madness of the sex tape, which is now free to watch, she comes home and tells Tommy to sign the rights to the tape to the Seattle guy with the webcam site. Tommy has been staunchly against it, but in a very restrained and gutsy fashion, Pam insists he sign the agreement. Tommy goes through a fit after Pam will not say anything to him, knocking over a table and screaming at the top of his lungs. Lily James does fantastic work in this scene, doing all the performing in her face.

In this day and age, we take for granted things playing on our computers. In one scene, Rand is trying to pay his debt to Butchie by shaking down other idiots who owe him money. After tazing one of these said idiots, he finds the sex tape is playing on the guy’s computer. He’s baffled by it, proclaiming how it is playing on the computer. One never thinks about the Pam and Tommy sex tape being a watershed moment for the internet, but it absolutely was. Yes it was stolen, yes the circumstances of it getting there are abhorrent. In a better world, Pam and Tommy would have sold that tape willingly and profited off it. In a perfect world this show wouldn’t exist. Pam and Tommy is a tragedy more than anything. It’s a tale of how a very private tape found its way on a very public forum. I’d love to say that we’ve learned from this, but with “The Fappening” occurring only a few years ago, with sex workers having to watermark their content because people still steal it and post it on the countless tube sites and with the millions of internet trolls that still slut shame and think they own a woman’s body, I can in no uncertain terms say that we have a long way to go.



Anthonioni Scalepini

Aspiring Screenwriter. Writer of all things Cinema. I will write that movie article for you.