Pam & Tommy is back with its penultimate episode, and it might be the strongest one of the series yet. Rather than going for a massive finale, the show seems to be continuing to focus on the fallout from the theft of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s private sex tape. In many ways, the implications of this continue to the present day, so this may ultimately be the best choice for the series.
As always, the star of this week’s episode was Lily James. In her portrayal, viewers can’t help but feel for Anderson in a very real way. Seeing her speak difficult truths in this episode was incredibly powerful. We’ve seen this character come nearly full circle. She’s done censoring herself for the men around her, and is finally giving voice to the very dark reality of her situation. It’s sad that she doesn’t have more people on her side.
The Jay Leno (Adam Ray) material was equally heartbreaking and infuriating. It was the perfect distillation of how dehumanizing the worship of celebrities is. I admit to being a casual late-night fan myself. That being said, as with anything that exploits celebrities, it can get very cringe very fast. In an effort for these types of shows to make celebrities seem “just like us”, the opposite effect is achieved.
This episode also featured the return of Rand (Seth Rogen). Despite the massive amounts of trouble he’s caused for himself, he’s still not even a little bit sympathetic. He continues to refuse to take even a tiny bit of responsibility for his own actions in this situation, which is nothing less than infuriating to watch. His character has become a stand-in for us as viewers who consume celebrity content to excess. It’s so hard to watch him, and yet we can’t look away.
The confrontation between Rand and Tommy (Sebastian Stan) was incredibly satisfying. After an entire episode of Rand blaming literally everyone else for the situation in which he finds himself, it was great to see at least one other person turn it around on him. This was such a typical way for two men to solve a problem by solving literally nothing, but Stan and Rogan made it work in their own unique way.
The perhaps surprising star of this episode was Taylor Schilling as Rand’s sort of ex-wife Erica. This was the moment where the truth was revealed, and his “big business venture” was revealed to be the theft of a private sex tape. Her fury is exceptionally well-placed, and a cathartic venue for us as viewers who are frankly sick of Rand’s…shenanigans. It was an incredibly effective way to address the idea of consent, something that this show has frankly struggled to address fully.
Pam & Tommy has never been perfect, but this episode really was an example of all it has the potential to be. It’s a societal indictment that has the opportunity to tell the very real story of a couple who had their privacy violated in a shocking and horrifying way. With the last episode set to air next week, hopefully, the show can do what it does best-focus on the humanity of the very real people involved and making the audience reflect on how we contribute to the chaos that is celebrity culture.
New episodes of Pam & Tommy air Wednesdays on Hulu.