In Review

Pam & Tommy review: a lot of fun, but nothing much to say

The human drama is rather ‘overwhelmed by the story’s sheer salaciousness’

The leaking of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex tape was “one of the defining celebrity scandals of the 90s”, said Ed Power in The Daily Telegraph. “It had everything: bare flesh, rock ‘n’ roll and naked voyeurism”. So it should make for a fine TV dramatisation.

But while the Baywatch star and her Mötley Crüe drummer husband are brought “rollickingly to life” by Lily James and Sebastian Stan in this eight-part series, on Disney+, the human drama is rather “overwhelmed by the story’s sheer salaciousness”.

The series is really “three narratives plaited together”, said Lucy Mangan in The Guardian. One is a heist caper, about the contractor (Seth Rogen) who stole and then leaked the tape. The second strand delves into what Anderson and Lee found in each other – “beyond, yes, the obvious”. The third is a critique of the “media machinations, public appetite and systemic biases” that enabled events to unfold as they did.

Anderson was brutally treated, and it is good to see the scandal being reappraised in line with our more enlightened times; but this is undermined by the fact that the series was made without her approval.

If you are hoping to get a sense of how Anderson felt when her sex tape was leaked to the world, “you might be disappointed”, said Camilla Long in The Sunday Times. “This show couldn’t be further from feminist polemic – it’s all about the camera playfully riding over Pammy’s curves.” The series really has nothing very interesting to say; but it is “a lot of fun to watch”.

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