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Recommended: Pam & Tommy on Hulu

Their infamous sex tape inspires an unusual docudrama that’s as thoughtful as it is tawdry.
  • Sebastian Stan and Lily James star in Pam & Tommy. (Photo: Erin Simkin/Hulu)
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    Pam & Tommy | Hulu
    Eight-Episode Limited Series (Docu-Dramedy) | TV-MA

    What's Pam & Tommy About?

    The release of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's private sex tape is the throughline to this miniseries about a feeding frenzy and how it damaged everyone who went near it.

    Who's Involved?

    • Lily James — whose ouevre ranges from Downton Abbey to Secret Diary of a Call Girl — leans into her role as Pamela.
    • Sebastian Stan (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) plays Tommy Lee, and though he’s no James Franco — who was originally cast in the role — he brings explosive energy to the aggrieved, self-centered drummer of a fading band.
    • Seth Rogen is Rand the handyman, whose beef with Tommy results in his acquiring the tape.
    • Nick Offerman is Rand's buddy Uncle Miltie, a pornographer.
    • Andrew Dice Clay is Butchie, a mobster who enters into, shall we say, a distribution agreement with Rand and Miltie.
    • Jason Mantzoukas (The League) is the voice of Tommy’s animatronic talking penis.
    • A quartet of talented directors divide up the episodes, including Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) and Lake Bell (I Do … Until I Don’t).

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    This long-simmering project could have been simply a lowbrow escapade involving lookalikes re-enacting the 1990s marriage of Baywatch star Anderson and Mötley Crue drummer Lee, and indeed the first hour suggests that’s the road Pam & Tommy is heading down. (The opening scene, featuring noises of the happy couple screwing loudly in another room, is itself a tip-of-the-cap to movies of that era.) Though the storyline of the sex tape is entertainingly told thanks to Rogen and Offerman — in seedy roles one can’t quite imagine anyone else pulling off so well — the series morphs into a surprisingly deep exploration of celebrity culture at the dawn of the Internet age. This part of the series is powered by James and her sensitive portrayal of the woman at the eye of the storm, whose inability to find intimacy (in real life, Anderson is currently separated from Husband No. 5) might have something to do with the fallout from her sex tape. Pam & Tommy turns a notorious media moment into a captivating, if undeniably tawdry, exploration of the price of celebrity in a culture where the complete loss of privacy is considered the price of fame.

    Pairs well with

    • I, Tonya, whose director Craig Gillespie also directed three episodes of Pam & Tommy.
    • I Hate Suzie, which takes a more comedic approach to celebrity and the price that only women pay for having their bodies shared online.

  • Pam & Tommy
    Premiered on Hulu Wednesday, February 2, 2022, with new episodes Wednesdays through March 9.
    Created by: Robert D. Siegel.
    Starring: Lily James, Sebastian Stan, Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman, Andrew Dice Clay, and Jason Mantzoukas.
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    TOPICS: Pam & Tommy, Hulu, Andrew Dice Clay, Jason Mantzoukas, Lily James, Nick Offerman, Robert D. Siegel, Sebastian Stan, Seth Rogen