I’ve gone through many thoughts with “Pam & Tommy” through this past month. The first three episodes were madcap fun, almost pulpy in presentation. Episodes four through six shifted to a much more dramatic tone. In episode six there was a grand reveal, which made me think about the series as a whole (you can read my previous thoughts, here and here). It was in this sixth episode that I figured out this show should have just been called “Pam.” The episode in question is the one that largely takes place during a deposition in which Pamela Anderson Lee is the sole person being deposed. I had struggled with the catalyst of the whole show, that being Tommy Lee and his shitty, ass-hole behavior sparking subsequent events in which a contractor named Rand would steal a safe, take the video inside the safe and distribute it on the World Wide Web without the consent of the owners. I struggled to get to episode seven, but I’m glad I did. This show quashed a lot of those concerns, not that the show is not messy at times with how it tackles things, however, going into the final episode, I feel good about having experienced this show.
The first thing this episode does is give Rand his comeuppance. The show did a very disingenuous thing making Rand the focus of the first three episodes, because it made the viewer think he’s the hero, when he is far from it. That made sympathizing for his plight impossible because he stole something, he put it out in the world and profited off of it. Of course, every story needs a villain and Rand is one of them. Rand’s misguided spiritualism is his downfall. He thinks he is righteous when in reality he is wretched. I almost wished I would have watched this whole series all in one sitting, because having to wait on arcs made my mind run wild. In this episode, everything comes crashing down on Rand. In one of my favorite scenes, Rand writes (on a typewriter) a letter to Tommy Lee, demanding a large sum of money that will absolve him of his sins (pot calling kettle black in all it’s glory). The meeting happens at Chavez Ravine, in the parking lot of Dodgers’ Stadium. Tommy comes with a paper bag filled with money. Rand smartly puts a chain-link fence in front of him and Tommy Lee. Rand tells him the money is exactly what he owed him for the work he’d done for him. The two go back-and-forth, and Rand makes the claim that Tommy Lee is a bad guy. Lee, in one of the best moments for Sabastian Stan, agrees, but follows up with “what about Pam? Is she bad too?”
One thing I’ll touch on briefly. When Rand’s ex, Erica talks about the sex tape with Rand there, and she talks about how beautiful it was and how she loved the scene where it’s from Pam’s POV and she’s getting fucked by Tommy, how she loved that Pam focuses on his face when he cums. I loved that scene, and I think it’s the perfect nod to why we need diversity in all facets of entertainment. It’s a great reminder why we need more women filmmakers, more trans filmmakers and more diversity both in front of, and behind the camera. Later Erica finds out Rand stole the tape and rightly, and immediately, throws him out.
I won’t get too much into the “Barb Wire” stuff here. I remember watching “Barb Wire” on Cinemax in the early 2000s and all I cared about were tiddies. I’ll have to re-watch it at some point, but this episode gets into the promotion of that film and the reception (which was not great).
The last thing that caught me was the scene where Pam and Tommy’s lawyer gives the couple the bad news that the judge ruled in favor of Penthouse. This is a watershed moment in the show for me. It was the capper on a fantastic arc for Pamela Anderson in this show, and also Lily James stealing the show from everyone else. Pam explains to the men in the room (both in the show and at home) that because Pam is a Playboy model, because she has put her body out there for people to see, everyone else is entitled to her with or without her consent. It’s a powerful moment, and one of my very favorite scenes of the year so far.
I’ll be writing about the last episode next week, so stay tuned for that. Thank you to everyone that’s read these commentaries/reviews!