February 7, 2022

CABLE | Under the Celebrity Skin – 'Pam & Tommy' Forever

"It's like we're seeing something we're not supposed to be seeing."
Lily James Adam Ray Robert Siegel Craig Gillespie | Pam & Tommy Hulu Disney+ Star
Annapurna Television / Point Grey Pictures
Lily James and Sebastian Stan star as the titular notorious '90s former married couple, Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson and bad boy Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, in the explicit biographical miniseries Pam & Tammy based on the now infamous scandal involving the unauthorized release of their private honeymoon celebrity sex tape in 1995 as reported in Rolling Stone in 2014.

Created by Robert Siegel and initially directed by Craig Gillespie (then later, Lake Bell), the eight-episode series takes an early comedic true crime approach to its material by first focusing on Seth Rogen's Rand Gauthier, the former porn actor turned carpenter who stole the tape after Lee stiffed him on a $20,000 payment before threatening him with a shotgun. Rogen as a sort of well-meaning degenerate makes for a decent enough vessel, but it's not until we really focus on James' transformative yet sympathetic portrait of Anderson that things start to get interesting.

Through extensive makeup, physical training, a busty prosthetic chest plate, and lots of hair bleach, James totally transforms into the blonde bombshell while shedding her usually wholesome, proper British image. Other key side characters show up played by Nick Offerman and Taylor Schilling as we explore the very seedy early days of shadowy backdoor internet dealings including an organized criminal element.

How Pam & Tommy re-examines this peak 1990s celebrity-obsessed moment in time at the dawn of internet culture feels overdue. James and Stan are totally game in their wild portrayals of the sexually-charged iconic pair. There are plenty of good times yet the sadder details expose how we treat famously beautiful women who embrace their own sensual image. It goes beyond the late night comedy punchline the couple's misfortunes initially began as.

Pam & Tommy is available to stream weekly on Disney+ Star in Canada (and on Hulu in the U.S.).

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