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Is it OK to Watch Pam & Tommy?

By Ben Spaeth


Photo: The Hollywood Reporter – Source

Hulu's Pam & Tommy packs a star studded cast and plenty of amazing performances from the leads, but without Pamela Anderson’s blessing, some have wondered how this show even got made?


The series is based on a 2014 Rolling Stone article. Buying the rights to a story or article is often a method companies use to get around purchasing the life rights of the subjects. This isn’t to say that no one reached out to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. The showrunners and Lily James, who plays Pamela in the show, reached out to Pamela but received no response. Tommy Lee was not involved at all in the making of this mini series either, but he has expressed support for the project.


One of the main issues with Pam & Tommy is the framing of the story. Something Pamela Anderson never wanted to give was her consent to have her body displayed in this manner. How the showrunners could feel comfortable about telling a story about the violation of consent without the consent of one of the title characters is beyond me. The story is framed in a manner where we are supposed to side with Pamela. She is undoubtedly the heart of the show. Lily James’s Pamela faces sexism on set and in the courtroom. Her fight against society’s sexist view of her is one of the show’s main themes. Yet, without Pamela's input, a lot of her scenes feel like posturing. We have no idea how Pamela reacted to all of this, so why are we trying to frame her perspective based on assumptions? Simply put, this is not Pamela’s version of events. In fact, the article the show claims to be based on doesn’t even quote Pamela once. They quote the man who stole the sextape several times and take snippets out of Tommy Lee’s memoir. The idea that this is Pam’s story or Pamela’s telling of events is simply absurd.


On top of this, the other title character, Tommy Lee, is by no means a good guy. The series does show Tommy being a horrible person to a variety of characters, but his relationship with Pamela in the show is not nearly as tumultuous as it was in actuality. Tommy in the series is sweet and loving to Pamela. While the couple was shown in the tabloids as being very lovely and the show does capture this sentiment well, what the show doesn’t show or at least hasn’t shown yet (episodes are still airing) is the abuse that Pamela was subjected to by Tommy Lee. Admittedly, Lee wasn’t arrested for spousal abuse until after the depicted events in the show, but there is something to be said about whether or not we should be displaying a couple that clearly had domestic issues in such a positive manner. Especially since the show was getting no input from Pamela Anderson on the matter.


To be clear, if this show was backed by Pamela Anderson and she came out and said, “this is my story, this is my truth,” then I would have no problem with the morality of watching this show. It isn’t enough to extend a rejected offer. When you're telling the story of someone’s most personal lived experiences, to not even have that person involved in the making of that story is insane. There seems to be this sentiment around celebrities that they are just characters in the canon of pop culture. Thus, we can do with them what we please because in the collective mind they are nothing more than a character on a screen to a majority of the population. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Celebrities are people who often live very complex lives. Their fame shouldn’t be an excuse for mistreatment.