The long slog that was Pam & Tommy is now mercifully at an end. In many ways, the final episode of the miniseries was emblematic of everything that was wrong with this series from the beginning. The finale was proof that this series shouldn’t have been made, at least not in the way that it finally came together.
It must be said that Lily James fought right to the end to portray Pamela Anderson’s humanity. Her effort was incredibly commendable. Against all odds, every time she was on screen, she compelled viewers to remember that in spite of the massive amounts of scrutiny and vitriol she’s received during her public life, she’s still very much a human being.
Sebastian Stan’s performance as Tommy Lee, while undeniably compelling, was uncomfortable in so many ways. His attempts to continue to compare his situation with Pamela’s fell flat, as it has this entire series. Although the theft of the sex tape was a crime against both Anderson and Lee, there was a very clear distinction in the media of how each were treated. This disparity was never reckoned with as it could have been.
Seth Rogen as Rand was at his most detestable, which is saying something considering how nauseating he’s been this entire series. His mea culpa was far too little too late. It was a terrible choice to try to give him a redemption arc which was never earned in any way. Even Erica (Taylor Schilling), who was the surprising star of Episode 7 was disappointing. She went from calling out her ex-husband for the terrible things he’d done, to kind of sort of accepting him back into her life with no accountability.
The silicon valley bro really was the pinnacle of what made this series terrible distilled into one character. This was perhaps meant to mark the official transition to the internet era. This one character was the embodiment of everything wrong with the internet and the subsequent culture it birthed. Money above all else and the commodification of human beings really hasn’t worked out well for most of us. Seeing all of Anderson’s fight leave her was heartbreaking when faced with the gargantuan beast that has become Silicon Valley.
It was incredibly low of this series to imply in the end title card that the “tumultuous” nature of Anderson and Lee’s relationship was true love embodied. Let’s call it what it was…abusive. Lee served six months in county jail in 1998 after pleading no contest to kicking Pamela Anderson while she was holding their son Dylan, whose birth we saw in this episode. The details of this incident are public, and we should call out abusers wherever they are.
In many ways, this series made clear how essential Pamela Anderson’s view was necessary to tell this story. It was welcome news that she will be featured in a documentary for Netflix. This project will hopefully be a venue where she will be given a chance to reflect honestly on her past, present and future, on her own terms and in her own time. Hopefully any viewers of this series will make it a point to tune into the project that centers Anderson’s voice.
Pam & Tommy was a project that should have never been, at least not in its final form. It had a good idea, to flip the narrative on an incredibly damaging situation that had far reaching consequences few could have predicted. Anchored by endearing performances by James and Stan, it’s potential was obvious. It’s just a shame that it was never given a chance to be fully realized.
Pam & Tommy is now available to stream on Hulu.