Last night I sat through the first three episodes of Robert Siegel‘s Pam & Tommy, an eight-part dramedy about the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape, which was stolen from Lee and Anderson’s home by contractor Rand Gauthier in late ’95 and covertly, half-assedly released in late ’97 or early ’98…somewhere around then.
The generally engaging series delivers the how, the why, the motive, the background, the personalities and the fallout. The first three episodes are titled “Drilling and Pounding”, “I Love You, Tommy” and “Jane Fonda.”
When I first saw the promos and the trailers, I rolled my eyes when I realized Seth Rogan would be playing Gauthier, and probably, I assumed, resorting to his usual schtick. Not was I thrilled at the idea of spending time with Lily James and Sebastian Stan as Pam and Tommy Lee, but I figured their performances…well, who knew?
I was therefore surprised to find myself enjoying the smart, clean construction that Siegel put into the storytelling. This is a well-made effort, logically assembled and absorbing as far as it goes.
I also found myself relating more to the none-too-bright Gauthier and his sleazy partner-in-crime, “Uncle Miltie” (Nick Offerman). It’s obvious early on that Rogan and Offerman are taking these guys fairly seriously, and not playing them as blue-collar dolts. Gauthier and Miltie are low-rent scuzballs but reasonably decent fellows with recognizable human aspects if you can relax your standards.
Pam and Tommy Lee, however, are not only portrayed but fully believable as egoistic, drooling, moronic (as in breathtakingly stupid and comically simple-minded) and pathetically under-educated fools.
HE to friendo: “Rogan and Offerman’s characters are the best. Lily James and Sebastian Stan’s Pam & Tommy Lee are stupid, vapid, uneducated cyphers…not just bad company but profoundly boring characters.”
Friendo to HE: “The perfs by Stan and James are great.”
HE to Friendo: “No, I really do not agree with you. James and Stan deliver energetic performances — physical and loud and loutish, yes, and she never seems to stop grinning or giggling or shrieking with delight, and yes, the animatronic penis scene is stupidly funny But Stan and James are playing REPREHENSIBLE PEOPLE. He’s an angry, mascara’ed, ovr-indulged, over-tattooed heavy metal asshole and she’s an utterly brainless boop-boop-pee-doop Barbie Doll.
“I mean, the movie pretty much dies when it’s just about James and Stan, and it comes back alive when Rogan and Offerman return. Not to mention Taylor “I’m not letting that guy fuck me up the ass” Schilling.”
Friendo to HE: “Well, let’s both agree that this did not need to be eight episodes long.”
HE to Friendo: “I’m not bored as we speak but the idea of watching five more episodes of this does seem like a possible stretch. One thing the series makes clear at the beginning was that the sex-video theft was provoked, that Tommy Lee’s seriously abrasive and bullying treatment of Gauthier led to some angry payback. Perhaps not justified, but certainly understandable.”
This sordid affair was explored in a 2014 Rolling Stone article by Amanda Chicago Lewis. I’ve never read it, but I’d like to now.