Hulu’s dramatic miniseries Pam & Tommy, starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan as Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, details the disturbing, enraging, complex story of the theft and distribution of the celebrity couple’s sex tape in the 90s by contractor Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen). James plays a vulnerable version of Anderson, providing one of the most complex fictionalized versions of the former Baywatch star, highlighting how tired of being objectified and sexualized she was at the time. The onscreen chemistry between her and Stan is palpable: from the moment they meet in a club, and Tommy introduces himself by brazenly licking her cheek, there’s a certain excitement that can be felt. Stan’s version of Tommy Lee is a wild, electric, fun, insensitive rockstar — he brings a thoughtless self-centeredness which is emblematic of rock, demonstrated firstly by how poorly he treats the people who work in his house, leading to the theft of his sex tape.
Rogen’s version of Gauthier is uncomfortably sympathetic, as the show begins following him being scammed out of thousands of dollars by Tommy Lee while attempting to complete work on his house. His subsequent decision to steal and disperse the sex tape is sickening, and makes viewers question what understanding they once had for the situation.
It’s worth noting that, despite the central message of this show denouncing the disturbing entitlement some feel towards the private lives of celebrities, this show was made without the consent of Pamela Anderson, who felt that it would only further violate her privacy about the matter. This is a disturbing reality for a show, which nabbed ten Emmy nominations, that makes such an eloquent attempt at tackling complex issues concerning celebrity and the right to privacy. Pam & Tommy is enjoyable — the acting is spectacular, the script is interesting and face-paced, and the soundtrack is incredibly fun — but still, it’s hard to avoid feeling like you’ve somehow been an accomplice to some sort of violation while watching.