Streamer: Disney+ (starting Feb 2)
Length: 8 x episodes (33-55 minutes each)
Celebrity sex videos leaking - deliberately or through more nefarious means - is nothing new these days. Hell, there are entire murky sections of the internet devoted to that sort of thing. Apparently.
However, back in the 90s it was a very different story. Information wasn’t so easily shared and the notion of online movies belonged in the realm of science fiction.
Newlyweds Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee had the dubious honour of being part of the incident that changed all that, dramatised to decent effect in Disney+’s Pam & Tommy, which if nothing else recontextualizes an odd bit of celebrity controversy.
Pam & Tommy actually starts by introducing us to Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen), a schlubby tradie who's working on a flash new bedroom for Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan).
After a series of misunderstandings, Tommy fires Rand, reneges on his payment and even confiscates his tools. Rand decides to steal the contents of Tommy’s safe as retribution and flogs much more than he bargained for.
Starting the story with Rand is important, because although his actions were extremely scumbaggy, they originated in a righteous place.
That said, no matter how unpleasant Tommy could be, Pamela Anderson (Lily James) was completely innocent and deserved none of what was to follow.
And what followed was a total invasion of her privacy.
Pam & Tommy has two big assets: its stars. Sebastian Stan is a revelation as Tommy Lee, imbuing the role of the tattooed lothario with unexpected pathos and eager, albeit slightly dim, charm.
Lily James, who in reality looks nothing like Pammy, steals the show. Her take on the buxom centrefold/actress (assisted with prosthetics) captures Pam’s sexkitteny vibe perfectly, but also nails the vulnerability and gentle soul of a woman who was done dirty by pretty much everyone at the time.
This was a woman who was simply having sex with her husband - the most vanilla of activities imaginable outside of putt putt golf or scrapbooking - and in one fell swoop had that very private moment stolen and shown to the world.
Pam & Tommy is a little uneven at times. The first three episodes are a hoot, with the titular star’s courtship being a highlight. Hell, there’s even a scene where Tommy has an impassioned debate with his notoriously girthy member about why Pam’s the one for him.
Seriously, it moves around and everything. Wild stuff.
However, around the halfway mark the show loses momentum. Every episode becomes yet another humiliation for our hero couple and it starts to become a little numbing. There’s only so many times you can mutter “oh wow, that sucks” before it loses its impact.
Perhaps that’s the point. Because despite the jaunty 90s soundtrack, the fast editing and loquacious weiners, Pam & Tommy is actually kind of a tragedy. It’s the destruction of an otherwise happy couple and a gut wrenching event in the life of real people.
And although Tommy Lee is apparently sanguine about the existence of the show, Pamela Anderson is very much not. And who can blame her? These are not memories anyone would want to relive.
Still, while the purpose of the show is a little nebulous, and the pacing uneven, it’s undeniably entertaining and thought-provoking. And, honestly, the lead performances are so good that it’s hard not to root for those crazy kids even though you know how it all ends.
The best thing to be said about Pam & Tommy is that perhaps, hopefully, people will be inclined to treat celebrities and their private affairs with a little more respect.
And if it takes a gargantuan talking penis (voiced by Jason Mantzoukas) to do that? Then so be it.
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