Wednesday, March 9, 2022

REVIEW: 'Pam & Tommy' - Millions Gain Access to the Tape as Pam and Tommy Fight Over How to End the Fight in 'Seattle'

Hulu's Pam & Tommy - Episode 1.08 "Seattle"

A cocky young Internet entrepreneur enters the picture, changing everything.

"Seattle" was written by Robert Siegel and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

The creative team positioned Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee as a great love story disrupted by the public release of their sex tape. It's an insane position to take given Tommy spent six months in jail for spousal battery. It plays into the romanticized notion of domestic violence. That should not be coerced into becoming a fairytale. It simply makes this story feel half told. It's about this insane thing that happened to them as a couple. Pam would say it was worse for her than it was for him. Saying that over and over again doesn't provide power. It's simply repetition because the show has nothing more meaningful to say. It's startling that this show produced an episode like "Pamela in Wonderland." That episode was aware of the gender dynamics at play. It still drew its intensity from berating Pam in a legal deposition. That visceral depiction was chilling. Elsewhere, the show wants to prove itself as being smart and insightful about this story that's never been told before. In reality, it asserts that no one ever really changed as a result of this turmoil. Seth Warshavsky profited off of it while Pamela Anderson was essentially blacklisted from the entertainment industry. What she lost is put on equal standing as Mötley Crüe's latest album being a flop. It's an insane comparison. It comes from the desire to be equally focused on both of these lead characters. They were a couple for years. The release of the tape had an impact on both of them. They had private discussions about it. It shaped their relationship. In the end, it comes across as Pam continually being bullied. She is forced into every single lawsuit that was filed. She is the one who ultimately gets to declare that "it's over." That moment is entirely about the tape. That too suggests the show was much more interested in the scandal instead of the people. It's not Pam talking about her marriage even though she is scorned after seeing her husband at the bar drunk and playing into the infamy the tape has brought him. That informs everything about how she sees the reaction. It's different for her. She internalizes it. She develops hatred for Tommy because he can get away with being celebrated for his contributions. She is left alone to deal with the hard problems. She's still screwed by Seth as he makes a ton of money. She just wants the ordeal to be over already. She's ready to be a mother. That's the new shape her life will take. That's what she wants to focus on. She is given that freedom.

Meanwhile, this finale is just as engaged with Rand and his outage over Seth streaming the video for free online. It's the same pattern of him not being able to revolutionize the world in the way he so clearly wanted. He wanted to hurt Tommy Lee. Pamela Anderson was collateral damage. He was okay with that because his life was good. And now, it's terrible. He is haunted by the work he has to do to appease his debts. He has forever been shaped by stealing the tape. It's an epiphany that doesn't come out of some moral declaration though. It's him simply being frustrated. He believes he deserves better as the good guy in the situation. He's absolutely heinous. He suffers no serious consequences though. The world knows he is responsible for this theft. He is allowed to escape to a better life. He doesn't keep the money Seth gives him to buy the original tape. He gives it all to Erica so she can be free from him forever. That's all she ever wanted. She lashed out at Rand for shaming and demeaning a woman. He never understood. He wears the theft as a badge of honor. He broke into Tommy Lee's house and stole what was his most prized personal item. He put it on display for the world to see. Through sheer incompetence, he doesn't benefit from it. That's another action that plays out over and over again. It's the show once again not offering anything new or valuable. It's simply stating facts. In doing so, it basically falls into the grim worldview that people are inherently greedy and selfish. Rand's personal growth was meant to come from his dynamic with Erica. That was completely trivial and unnecessary. She existed solely to tell him he was a bad person who did a bad thing. She had no interest in him any longer. He could never let go of what they once had. He's possessive over everything. In the end, ten thousand dollars is a good enough payoff. That's all it takes to sell his morals. It's the price stated by the gangster to remove the burden from his soul. That stigma always remains. It can never be forgotten. True accountability remains elusive. This show doesn't set the world on fire with the righteous indignation of how this all happened. It states the facts without offering the truly unique perspectives of those involved. Some understand the larger dynamics at work. They never formed a cohesive narrative. Lily James was tremendous in her performance at least. Sebastian Stan was a committed scene partner. Everything else was miscalculated in a number of ways that prevented the ultimate goal from working.