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“Pam and Tommy”: The Story of a Burglary That Went Global

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Pam and Tommy, released on Hulu in early February, overtook my social media outlets as fans raved of its brilliant execution. In this Hulu Original, Lily James plays 90s bombshell Pamela Anderson, while Sebastian Stan takes the role of 80s rockstar Tommy Lee from the band Mötley Crüe. Naturally, I began the series as scenes from the show clouded my TikTok ‘For You’ page.

The Hulu show is based on “Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape” by Amanda Chicago Lewis, which was published in Rolling Stone in 2014. The story mainly follows the lives of Anderson, Lee and a carpenter named Rand Gauthier, who the fiery Mötley Crüe drummer laid off. In 1995, Rand Gauthier burgled a honeymoon sex tape from the Lee family’s Malibu mansion, along with many other expensive and prized possessions. The timeline of this event is genuinely intriguing as it almost defines the beginning of the era of adult films on the internet.

The choice of James as the leading actress shocked many, as she is not physically similar to Anderson. However, Robert Siegel, the creator of the show, took these concerns into account. He states, “…one of the takeaways of the show is that Pam is not who you think she is, and we’ve all underestimated her. You’re misjudging Lily, maybe the way you’re misjudging Pam.”

After binging the show in two days, this makes a lot of sense. Throughout Pam and Tommy, Pam Anderson is constantly belittled and misjudged by characters representing real-life people. She is perpetually questioned on the validity of her hurt feelings in having this intimate video leaked because of her status as a former model for Playboy and actress for Baywatch. The video, which was released without consent from neither her nor Lee, crushes her career as she is publicly criticized and humiliated.

The show further explores how Lee and Anderson are separated purely by gender. While Anderson is met with rejection from Hollywood, Lee once again finds the worldwide popularity that plummeted since his profound 80s stardom. Both celebrities star in, arguably, the world’s most famous sex tape, but it seems Anderson faces the majority of the consequences.

Regarding the actors, both Lily James and Sebastian Stan had to undergo very intense daily makeup routines. James’ makeup routine took four hours, including facial prosthetics, while Stan’s took about three, many devoted to the intricate tattoos of drummer Tommy Lee. Neither Lee nor Anderson were involved in the production of the series. The show is overall deemed as historically accurate. Pam and Tommy earned an 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.4/10 on IMDb. Personally, I would rate the show an 8.5/10.

I thoroughly enjoyed the series and previously didn’t know the lengthy story behind such a private and steamy video. I also applaud the show on its ability to alter the audience’s allegiance to the characters. I began on the side of the easy-to-love carpenter, Gauthier, as a dishonorable rockstar screwed him over. But I ended with allegiance to Anderson, who became over-sexualized and banned from her classic Hollywood actress dreams. Today, Pam Anderson herself has taken to Instagram to announce that she will be telling her own story on Netflix, and I will certainly be an avid watcher. Overall, Pam and Tommy definitely deserves a watch. I would say it is one of my 2022 favorites so far.

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An FSU student from Ormond Beach, Florida, studying political science.