Wednesday, February 2, 2022

REVIEW: 'Pam & Tommy' - Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's Whirlwind Romance Begins in 'I Love You, Tommy'

Hulu's Pam & Tommy - Episode 1.02 "I Love You, Tommy"

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee meet, get high and get married... all in four days.

"I Love You, Tommy" was written by Robert Siegel and directed by Craig Gillespie

A foreboding sense of danger lurks over every single action in this dramatic telling of real-life events. That stems from the creative decision to start with Rand and the theft of the sex tape of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. That is the central action that dictates the pace and development of this story. It's what defines Pam and Tommy's time together. That's what the audience needs to be aware of at all times. And so, the storytelling can feel like it is operating only under that guise instead of being in the present and living within these characters' interactions. Everything is about how these dynamics will shape what is destined to come. And so, it's all being told through the frame of the danger in Rand and Uncle Miltie seeing what's on the tape and the casual nature through which Pam and Tommy ultimately make it. This episode sets out to explain how Pam and Tommy came together. But again, it's an episode building to that explanation instead of providing character insights into who these people were at this specific point in time. This is truly the introduction of Lily James in her interpretation of Pamela Anderson. She was only briefly in the premiere. Even then, the story wasn't about her even though that is destined to change given her celebrity status. She is so instantly recognizable that people want to be brought into her world and devoured. The characterizations of her though seem mostly one-noted. It's a commanding performance. One that is fully committed to telling the wild nature of this particular story. But it's also about warning of the danger of Pam being with Tommy from the very first moment. It conforms to the ironic nature of Pam having just written off bad boys when she meets Tommy at a club. She is quickly drawn into his world. She finds him charming even though he comes across as an obsessive stalker. Tommy's behavior is truly troubling and deranged. Pamela travels to Cancun for a work event. She has to promote Baywatch as the face of the show for the syndicated markets. That's how the show earns money. She is bored. It's a dull and lifeless event. Tommy teases her to the extent where giving him her number and agreeing to hang out for a drink seem like compromises. It's insane. But again, that's the point. This is suppose to be a wild and crazy few days. It's a whirlwind adventure that leads to the two of them getting married even though one girlfriend is in the corner concerned about Pam making the same mistakes once more. Again, some of these plot beats are incredibly formulaic and forced. It's as if the show doesn't trust the originality and purpose of its story material. It instead hopes that deploying certain tropes can help the audience understand why Pam is attracted to bad boys. And then, the action needs to get wild and unhinged in order to showcase the true insanity of Tommy Lee. Even that can feel tepid. It builds to a sequence of him arguing with his penis about how much he loves Pam. He is in awe of her from the first moment. He takes big and wild leaps to win her over. She is charmed and smitten. It's still awkward when they don't know basic details about the other. They make it work. They are committed to do so. They see this as a relationship built on love. It's still incredibly volatile. It successfully builds to that moment in the bedroom with Pam and Tommy singing along to "Getting to Know You" from The King and I. That's such a powerful moment that highlights their connection in a genuine and moving way. It's more than just an object of desire and infatuation. It's actually a relationship. One that has highs and lows. One that isn't just ogling over Pam's beauty and fame. She's more than just a trophy to be collected and put on display. But then, it still ultimately has to pivot around the camera being introduced and leading to the creation of the sex tape. This home is forever tainted by what is destined to take place here. That warning is delivered to the audience every single moment. It's pointed out to an extent that drowns out subtlety. That's unfortunate. Some of this may be cured if this episode aired first. Some details would still have to change in order to offer a different overall text though. And so, the story marches forward with the audience being aware while the characters are just getting caught up to the despair on the horizon.