Pam and Tommy

By Joanna Langfield

Based on quite the reality, this highly consumable miniseries is packed with surprises, not the least of which is its evolution into a feminist manifesto.

You may remember the story of the Baywatch babe and her heavy metal rockin husband. Their relationship was made, it seemed, for the gossip magazines. And when their sex tape wound up on the internet back in the early 1990s, the world wanted a peek. In this 8 part series, based on a journalistic investigation into the release of that tape, we see more than what was behind those headlines at the time. We meet two people, successful in show business and very much in love. With a kind of I, Tonya energy, we get the splashy highs and gut wrenching lows of people we may not have wanted to hang with. And we see that even they, to different degrees, may have deserved better.

It’s undoubtedly no accident that the earliest episodes, you know, the fun ones, were directed by men. Once women take the helm, and the story gets more serious, all of us begin to realize that Pamela Anderson, Playboy bunny and tight red bathing suit lifeguard on tv, might deserve more than snide scorn. Her story is more nuanced than her reputation. And Tommy Lee, her volatile husband, was a man of charismatic energy, past his bands’s heyday and bored. But he truly loved the woman he respectfully called Pamela and, even with his limits, wanted to make their marriage work.

An impressive Seth Rogen plays the man who felt pushed hard enough by Lee so that he rationalized capitalizing on the videotape he stole from the couple’s safe. Even better is Taylor Schilling, who gets some choice moments. But it’s a remarkable Lily James and a jaw dropping Sebastian Stan who make this one rock and resonate.