Series: ‘Pam & Tommy’ (Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar). Duration: About 45 minutes per episode (eight episodes in all).
Director: Craig Gillespie. Cast: Lily James, Sebastian Stan, Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman, Taylor Schilling and Paul Ben Victor.
IANS Rating: ***
This eight-part miniseries streaming on Disney+ Hotstar is about how a personal, intimate home video featuring the ‘Baywatch’ sex symbol Pamela Anderson became one of the earliest viral celebrity sex tapes.
The series begins with canned laughter, over which we hear the voice of a TV show anchor saying, “I’d never imagine anything sex-related that Pamela Anderson doesn’t know.” To which Pamela Anderson (Lily James) acknowledges the remark, and the anchor shoots back – “The Tape…we all want to know.”
Seated poised but at the same time acting cheeky, Pamela coyly replies, “What tape Jake?” The anchor replies that he has not seen it but would like to know, “What is it like to have that kind of exposure?”
The look on Pamela’s face changes composure, and we see the pain written all over her visage as she repeats, “What’s it like…” — this we think would set the tone of the narrative.
But instead, the narrative gets into a rewind mode. We are taken a year back, to show how the notorious sex tape, made by Anderson and her then-husband, the rock star Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan), during their raucous courtship in Cancun, was later stolen by an irate carpenter and was released online.
The source material of this series is based on the article — ‘Pam & Tommy. The untold story of the world’s most infamous sex tapes’ — by Amanda Chicago Lewis, first published in Rolling Stones in 2014.
The first episode titled ‘Drilling and Pounding’ is literally and figuratively loaded with innuendoes. It gives us an insight into the psyche of the carpenter, Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen), who is a believer in karma after reading the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
While working at Lee’s villa, he is distracted by the sounds made by the newlyweds, who are in a room above. After being belittled and exploited by Lee, how he plans revenge forms the crux of the series narrative.
Lily James with her tousled platinum hair and Sebastian Stan with his tattooed torso emulate Anderson and Lee to perfection. They project a perfect couple madly in love with each other.
Seth Rogen in a mildly dark-comic role, as Rand Gauthier, is an intriguing character to study. He has a wide range of emotions to display.
At one stage, you pity him, and in the next, you hate him for doing what he does without scruples, which according to him, is justified.
Since this series talks about sex tapes, the many ‘bold’ scenes reveal a lot of skin.
Overall, the series is exploitative in content and nature, despite pretending to be sympathetic towards the aggrieved couple.