On February 2nd Hulu premiered its new limited series, Pam and Tommy. The story is based on Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s relationship and the lead-up to the infamous sex tape leak. Anderson is played by Lily James and Lee by Sebastian Stan. It has been a highly anticipated project ever since the show had been announced, though there has been some controversy. Tommy Lee has been vocal about his support for the project, however, Pamela is known to be against it, a fact which the creators of the show are aware of. The show explores how their sex tape was stolen by an ex-employee (played by Seth Rogan) and how he released it to the internet for public viewing.
Both actors undergo a major physical transformation for each character. Sebastian Stan has a whole body of matching tattoos to Lee which took nearly three hours to add and top up when needed. He is also noticeably thinner and leaner than we are used to seeing him in projects such as Marvel’s Endgame and The Falcon and Winter Soldier. However, this is nothing to the transformation that Lily James underwent. She explained that it took nearly five hours to look like Pamela but as the show went on they got it down to a speedy three hours. She had a half head prosthetic to mimic Pamela’s forehead and eyebrows, a hair change to platinum blonde locks and prosthetic breasts which became especially notable during the Baywatch scenes.
When asked about the project a source close to Anderson has been quoted to say “I do know she’ll never, never watch it.” They explain further how “In the ’90s, Pamela’s body was deemed by a judge to be public property. There was no question the tape was stolen, but the court decided it wasn’t private property because her body belongs to the world.” The show’s writer D.V. DeVincentis explained that he reached out for her input and explained her portrayal was ‘Very much positive and we care a great deal about her and wanted her to know that the show loves her.’ Though she did not respond they understand her hostility and hope she hears their feelings towards her. Tommy Lee has taken a far different approach towards the show. He explained that he knows Sebastian Stan and ‘It’s a really beautiful story. I think a lot of people would think that it’s one thing, but it’s really about privacy and how things got crazy and there are different laws now.’ He continued by saying ‘It’s a cool story and people need to know. I’m stoked.’
Overall from my watching of the show, I think it would be enjoyed by a mature audience. The cast is undeniably talented and dedicated. Both Stan and James do a brilliant job at bringing humanity and humour to these characters going through an extremely turbulent time in their lives. They also consistently show respect to the characters and real-life celebrities they are portraying in the show. Not only this but the music, fashion and aesthetic of the show is very fitting to the extravagant and wild times they shared together in the mid to late 90s. However, there are some faults in the show. In episode four, there is a feminist and MeToo lens added to Pamela’s story arch which was nowhere to be found within the press at the time. The over-dramatisation, inaccurate narratives and highly ironic dismissal of Pam’s feelings towards a show that claims it “loves her” leaves a somewhat bittersweet taste in this viewer’s mouth.
Overall ⭐⭐⭐ stars
Sophie Melia: Film & TV Correspondent