Sebastian Stan and Lily James are Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson in the new comedy drama Hulu Pam & Tommy.

Hulu

In the mid-1990s, a sex tape starring glamorous TV star Pamela Anderson and wild male rocker Tommy Lee became the first viral video sensation. Comical and engrossing new Hulu the miniseries Pam and Tommy reveals the strange story of the film. But as we enjoy this intriguing true story, puzzled by 90s nostalgia, are we as complicit as those who stole, exploited and consumed this intimate tape in the first place?

The first three episodes of Pam & Tommy air on Hulu today, Wednesday, February 2, with additional parts of the series of 8 episodes after each Wednesday.

Based on an article by Amanda Chicago Lewis published in Rolling Stone in 2014, the miniseries was developed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The series was written by Robert D. Siegel (among others), who wrote The Wrestler and another true story, The discoverer, for the first days of McDonald’s. Siegel was also a writer for the satirical website The Onion, and this project looks like a breakdown of these things: a semi-satirical story that draws a scandalous comedy from the actual titles.

Rogen is also a star and the focus is on him as a start. He plays Rand Gauthier, a well-read but unfortunate artist who plays greasy mullet and builds a sex palace for Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee. Marvel star Sebastian Stan plays Lee as a zealous and invariably disgusting jester who walks around with only tattoos and a G-string, ignoring the little people around him until he becomes a petty and vindictive asshole. Being ignored by the rich and famous rock star is too much of a humiliation for Rand, who invents a crazy scheme to pay for himself. And in the process, he achieves something bigger than he expected, but it gets out of hand.

Left: Seth Rogen and Nick Oferman are the lowest people to exploit Pamela Anderson’s sex tape.

Hulu

Rand’s Revenge unexpectedly reveals a film for Lee’s honeymoon home movie with his new bride Pamela Anderson, the latest photo in the world thanks to her scantily clad role in the hit TV series Baywatch. She is a girl from a small town in Canada who took a break when the spotlight lit her up (literally) at a Vancouver football game and soon graced the pages of Playboy. Pam and Tommy introduce her to swearing to the bad boys, but then Lee intervenes in her life and a stormy romance begins.

As anyone who was around in the ’90s will remember, their honeymoon was immortalized in a ribbon that included a glimpse of the newlyweds complementing the relationship. Rand, once a porn star, used his connections to start selling copies of the tape. But in the end, he had even less control over the stolen video than the people in it, and the series outlines the twists and turns of this strange true story as Rand encounters lewd porn producers, ruthless mobsters and sewing traders.

Pam and Tommy find grim humor in moments like Rogen crawling on a lawn with a carpet on his back so security guards think he’s a dog, or portraying Lee’s infamous member flying across the screen in hedonistically slow motion. It’s also a regular nostalgic festival, full of ’90s music and fashion from Primal Scream to Nine Inch Nails to La Bouche and 69 Boyz (mixed with dream soul classics, in a fun but frantic way).

But these are not comedy characters, but real people, and the video has devastating emotional consequences. Last but not least, for Pamela Anderson herself, who was on the verge of leaving television and starting a film career at the same time as starting a family. The series explores the role played by the video in the early days of the Internet and Anderson’s career. Only one would take off.

Lily James appears to be the star of Baywatch, but in series that are so eager to take Anderson’s side, she is often frustratingly isolated. Anderson is shown making smart business decisions and has a keen understanding of show business, and is portrayed as a creature of controversy – something both real and fictional Pamela Anderson embraces – but insights into her personality feel a little superficial.

James (like Anderson) goes on to explain to her husband, her lawyers and the viewer why this situation is so catastrophic for her – because she is a woman and is judged by different standards than men. It’s not meant to be subtle, but these speeches convey the moral of the story right in front of the camera: Her statements about double standards applied to women in the eyes of society may provoke thought, but her speech makes her feel less like a real person. and dangerously close to being a mouthpiece for the show’s Big Topics.

Among the other main roles, Rogen is extremely watchable as the man who stole the tape, again playing a long-term loser who doesn’t seem to be able to take a break. It is easy to connect with his sadness after his failed marriage and his despair, because everyone plays him a fool. And Stan instills a surprising amount of humanity in wild man Tommy Lee, because under the tattoos he shows that he is a real supportive husband.

After all, the show doesn’t deal with the big problem. This is a story about how Anderson and Lee were exploited without their consent. The series effectively and humanely presents the consequences of this exploitation – but the couple also did not participate in this new show; operation continues beyond their control.

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This is the latest in a series of TV shows that highlight how women have been stigmatized in history, such as Impeachment: American Crime Story or The Many British Scandal. This is an important topic to emphasize, but like any real-life drama or real-life science fiction, it can be seen as a repetition of traumatic events for obscene entertainment.

These shows, especially the surprisingly sensitive Pam & Tommy, offer a belated excuse and even an apology to women like Pamela Anderson, who were simultaneously thwarted, condemned, and ultimately ruined. But ironically, if Pam and Tommy’s message reaches you, you may wish you hadn’t watched it.