pam and tommy
starring: lily james, sebastian stan, seth rogen, and nick offerman
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Follows the story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's relationship, going back to their whirlwind romance that started with them marrying after only knowing each other for 96 hours in 1995.
When the Pam and Tommy limited series was announced it wasn’t the explicit story content that initially shocked me but the casting of Lily James as Pamela Anderson. I just couldn’t see the resemblance. But with the aid of four hours in the makeup chair accompanied by an incredible performance, James completely transforms as Anderson. While a TV series based on an infamous sex tape has its explicit, scandalous moments, it’s the searing impact of the tape not only on Pam and Tommy but also those involved in it’s distribution that makes this truly compelling television.
Set in the Wild West early days of the Internet, Pam & Tommy is based on the incredible true story of the Pamela Anderson (Lily James, “Yesterday”) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan, “The Falcon & the Winter Soldier”) sex tape.
Stolen from the couple’s home by a disgruntled contractor (Seth Rogen, “Long Shot”), the video went from underground bootleg-VHS curiosity to full-blown cultural obsession when it hit the Web in 1997. A love story, crime caper and cautionary tale rolled into one, the eight-part original limited series explores the intersection of privacy, technology and celebrity, tracing the origins of our current Reality TV Era to a stolen tape seen by millions but meant to have an audience of just two.
First things first. This series is not for the faint hearted. It’ll be of no surprise to anyone that this series has its fair share of nudity. Quite a bit - but mostly of the prosthetic enhanced kind. But this isn’t some smutty re-creation to grab the streaming views. It’s a truly human, intimate drama with all the repercussions of the tape’s leak played out over eight episodes.
The narrative unfolds fairly chronologically beginning with Rand, a contractor who is humiliated and fired by Tommy, who then sets out on an outlandish plan to get what he’s owed by robbing Pam and Tommy. Then, things begin to unravel for everyone connected to the tape.
One of the strengths of this limited series is that it humanizes this infamous, pop culture moment. In a world where we still dehumanize those in the public eye from politicians to actors to a certain extent, this is not only a cutting critique but a timely reminder that they too are human.
But this series is all about Pam. I didn’t fully realize the impact that it’s release had on her personally and professionally. This tape, a personal, intimate and stolen moment, changed her life for the worst, and it's truly heartbreaking.
Even though Sebastian Stan is superb as Tommy Lee with some incredible drumming skills, this is the Lily James show. Anyone can do an impression, especially with the aid of some top notch prosthetics and makeup. But James completely transforms into Pamela Anderson from her accent to her mannerisms; you truly believe it is her. One of her best performances to date.
While a TV series based on an infamous sex tape has its explicit, scandalous moments, it’s the searing impact of the tape not only on Pam and Tommy but also those involved in it’s distribution that makes this truly compelling television.