Wow! This car crash of a story really happened.
Chaos, karma, prosthetic body parts, Hi8 sex tapes and Mötley Crüe: “Pam & Tommy” is a classic revenge tale that debunks the story of the hottest celebrity couple of the late ‘90s. Putting wild characters on display like symbolism-obsessed carpenter and electrician opposite an intense, rageful and simple-minded drummer, the story is bound to be entertaining. Exploring themes of both declining and rising fame within the star couple, along with the seedy LA porn industry as the internet becomes popular, “Pam & Tommy” brings amazing complexity to a seemingly straightforward tale of a celebrity sex tape.
The storyline is divided, following Rand Gauthier, a construction employee working on Lee’s “love deluxe” mansion while simultaneously tracking the abrupt marriage of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. When Gauthier is rudely fired from the job, Lee’s unfortunate personality flaws are exposed and Gauthier seeks revenge in the form of “Operation Karma.” When Gauthier gets a bit more than he bargained for, the absurdity of the story begins to unfold. Meanwhile, Anderson navigates being a sex-symbol in the late ‘90s, wanting to be taken seriously as an actress and the new pressure of being in the most desired relationship in the world.
While the Baywatch actress and heavy metal drummer duo seem clueless, spoiled and a bit stupid at first, both Sebastian Stan and Lily James take these roles to the next level. Interestingly enough, Tommy Lee chose to assist in the creation of this docuseries while Anderson did not, despite the positive portrayal of Pam and the horrible-and probably quite honest-portrayal of Tommy. Stan and James capture the essence of these characters and bring to life the late ‘90s life of these two mega-stars.
Seth Rogen teams up with Nick Offerman when Rand Gaultier takes karma into his own hands, and sports a magnificent throwback mullet all the while. Offerman perfects the seedy, skeezy energy necessary for his role as an LA porn producer, Uncle Miltie, serving as both a friend and advisor to Gauthier. Rogen, who shines a light on the forgotten antagonist in the well-known Pam and Tommy story, exposes both the simple handyman and stroke-of-genius sides of this role. Dog disguises, poorly thought-out plans, an epic construction van and stupidly hilarious porn antics are exemplified by the Rogen-Offerman duo.
Unfortunately, the first episode drags on, making it difficult to latch onto the storyline. The second episode, which highlights Pam and Tommy’s sudden wedding, is so grandiose in comparison that it creates a bit of viewer whiplash. Luckily, all the basics have been covered by the third episode. With multiple characters that come across as dumb, “Pam and Tommy” can be difficult to watch at first. This show is definitely a slow burn and a car crash that you can’t look away from somehow, in a good way.
Between the adorably fluffy family dog, superb set design and amazing outfit inspiration across the board, “Pam & Tommy” is a well-done and nostalgic new show to catch up on. You’ll be obsessed with learning about all the details in this crazy and outlandish story, rapidly becoming an expert on their relationship timeline and drawing many comparisons between other celebrity power-couples. If all else fails, “Pam & Tommy” is a great lesson to never, ever, make a sex tape.
[New episodes are available Tuesday nights on Hulu]