Hulu’s ministries Pam & Tommy continues with its compelling performances and tragic story. The shorter runtime works well for the series and keeps the pacing tight throughout. It also allows more focused storytelling on the individual characters to see their perspective more clearly.
Lily James as Pamela Anderson continues to centre this show in a truly inspiring and genuine way. This week’s episode gave her another chance to shine by focusing on Pamela Anderson’s humanity in the midst of a media firestorm. In this episode, she’s away from the opulence and paparazzi that characterize her public life, and is in an ordinary office with ordinary (if incredibly expensive) lawyers.
You can’t watch this episode without help but feel for Anderson as she’s forced to sit through proceedings asking incredibly private and intimate details. She’s not only about the infamous sex tape itself, but about her past experiences. It seems that the opposing lawyers take great joy in asking these incredibly invasive questions. Even Anderson’s own lawyer never stands up for her, which just adds to the sense that this is an incredibly isolated individual who is let down by so many around her.
The flashbacks to Anderson’s past are incredibly effective in this episode. It adds to the audience’s sense that Anderson was caught up in an industry that was never going to support her. The moments with her mother are so sweet and heartfelt. It was genuinely touching to see how loved and supported Anderson was by her mother, and how someone at least was looking out for her best interests and just wanted her to be happy. The idiot ex-boyfriend was exactly what you’d expect. It’s always sad to see a woman with such potential, talent, and otherwise character ends up with a man who never comes close to measuring up.
Flashing forward, it’s clear that the only person looking out for Anderson is the court reporter, played by Shenita Moore. The bathroom scene, where an overwhelmed Pamela seeks refuge from the onslaught of lawyers questions, was the strongest of the episode and among the strongest of the series to date. Moore did such a masterful job of showing compassion through her character. It’s a shame more characters on the show and people in real life weren’t able to show Anderson the compassion she deserved as a human being.
Tommy (Sebastian Stan) is mostly conspicuously absent in this episode, and it’s incredibly effective. In his wife’s hour of need, he’s nowhere to be found. He isn’t made to answer for the intimate details of his private life, and isn’t implied to be unclean or less than a person for his actions. The contrast is striking, and it’s a clear commentary on the vastly different standards men and women are held to, even among the famous.
The continued lack of Rand (Seth Rogen) is only helpful to Pam & Tommy. Although it looks like he’ll be returning for next week’s episode, the focus on the man who was responsible for the beginning of this massive invasion of privacy takes away from the story this series is trying to tell. His character is an uncomfortable reminder of the voyeurism that characterizes our society that is difficult to watch.
As Pam & Tommy draws to a close, with two episodes remaining in the ministries, we still have a lot to consider. This series is at its best when it focuses on the humanity of two people, regardless of what society may think of them, who had their privacy viciously invaded and became a spectacle. Hopefully, the series can maintain its focus and finish strong.
New episodes of Pam & Tommy air Wednesdays on Hulu.