Pam & Tommy: A Tale of Two Shows
When I finished Episode 3 of “Pam & Tommy,” I was delighted by the show’s humor and nostalgia. I loved the performances, the music and the internet being referenced as the “World Wide Web.” I was more than overjoyed by Lily James in episode 3, where at the end as Pam Anderson, she tells her new publicist about her admiration of Jane Fonda. Now that I’ve finished episodes four through 6, the luster of the show has worn off. With the introduction of some key plot points with Pam Anderson, and with the crux of the show being gross at best, my feelings on the show have changed a lot going into the final two episodes.
In Episode 4, Pam and Tommy find out the tape has been stolen. After it’s clear to Tommy the cops aren’t going to do anything, Tommy hires a private investigator, who through his initial interview with Pam and Tommy, leads him to Rand (Seth Rogen). Meanwhile, the stolen sex tape of Pam and Tommy is making Rand and his partner Uncle Miltie (Nick Offerman) a pretty penny, so much so that Rand stumbles upon a guy that is selling bootleg copies of the tape. In a moment that plays as a nice bit of satire, Rand confronts the bootlegger, telling him it’s wrong for him to sell the tape which is Rand’s property. The bootlegger promptly tells him to fuck off. All this is good stuff. It is in line with what I loved about the show. Then the show turns on a dime and becomes overtly dramatic, dealing with Pam finding out the tape is already out in the world, then dealing with Pam Anderson’s pregnancy, which at the end of the episode (SPOILERS) ends in a miscarriage.
We go from that heart wrenching scene to following Tommy Lee and his career woes with Motley Crue. This is where the show lost a lot of momentum for me. I think trying to show the problems of Tommy Lee after showing Pam lost their child is uncouth to say the least. The Tommy Lee as a character played by Sabastian Stan has gotten little sympathy from me. He has had moments, but it’s hard to really feel for the guy. Tommy is the asshole rock star that doesn’t pay his contractor, but then we’re supposed to feel sorry for him because his band doesn’t sell as many records and has to record in the smaller studio because the big studio is being used by the new hotness (Third Eye Blind)? Then Pam and Tommy find out that Bob Guccione, owner of Penthouse magazine is going to print stills from the sex tape in his publication, and Tommy wants to sue him and Pam is like, maybe that’s not a good idea, and they sue him anyway and that just makes Bob want to print the photos that much more and also puts the story into the LA Times, which then puts the whole thing into a joke that Jay Leno does on the Tonight Show just as Pam and Tommy are going to bed.
Then episode 6. This episode is Pam Anderson in a deposition answering questions about the tape, cut with flashbacks of Anderson being found and subsequently posing for Playboy. The deposition scenes are incredibly hard to watch. The performance from James is fantastic. I just feel like the episode is out of place with the previous episodes in the series. What we’ve gotten up until this episode is a lot of madcap nostalgia, a lot of Tommy Lee’s penis trying to talk him out of proposing marriage to Pam Anderson; we even got a scene of Nick Offerman getting a blow job while another topless gal caresses his face. It’s not that we can’t have those things and also have this, but it has to be earned. I think by itself, the episode is probably one of the best of any show in 2022 so far. However, in the context of the whole mini-series, it just feels out of place. I honestly think it would have worked better in the context of a feature film. Here it feels like the show runners are trying to sandwich a very poignant, vulnerable moment into a show that has Tommy Lee walking around in speedos for most of the first few episodes.
Episode Seven will be up March 1 and the finale will drop March 9. Stay tuned for my final write ups on the show!