“Pam & Tommy’s” second episode is looser than the series premiere. It’s quicker and more entertaining. That’s what happens when you untangle your story from the miserable grump who stole a rock star’s sex tape and instead focus on the sexy newlyweds who are so drunk on each other that even Rodgers and Hammerstein can’t keep them from getting horny. Is “Pam & Tommy”, however, a better show in its second hour? That depends partly on your appetite for a robotic cock portrayed by Jason Mantzoukas, who takes the risk of giving Tommy Lee’s penis a normal voice. (I’ll never be able to listen to How Did This Get Made? in the same way again.)
The miniseries depicts a version of events that is, for the most part, true to how Pamela Anderson met Tommy Lee, albeit the times and dates have been lightly manipulated. Pamela swears off bad boyfriends on television in the spring of 1995. Pam’s celebrity exes already include Bret Michaels and maybe Dean Cain, David Charvet, Scott Baio, and Antonio Sabàto Jr., so she isn’t stereotyping when she tells her girlfriends that actors and rock stars are “fucking nuts.” She simply completed her homework. Now she’s looking for a good man, perhaps an accountant, she insists. Then she orders shots for the entire club because Pamela Anderson always means “for everyone” when she says “shots.” Everything includes Tommy Lee on this pivotal night in tabloid history.
Tommy stalks across the club in the direction of Pam with the ferocity of a cartoon jungle cat. I’m exhausted just watching Sebastian Stan. His performance is high-intensity at all times. His eyes are always wide open, as though they’re out of their sockets. He has the ability to send a kinetic quality to the screen that would likely knock you out in real life. Tommy holds Pam’s face in both hands and licks it from her jawline to her temple as he sits next to her on the banquette. Tommy is complete anarchy and also Greek, so he stands on his seat, drains a shot glass, and yells “Opa!” They consume more alcohol, dance more, and lick more, consume more alcohol, dance more, lick more, consume more alcohol, dance more, lick more, consume more alcohol, dance more, lick more, consume more alcohol, dance more, lick more, consume more alcohol, dance more, Pam’s hairstyle is still flawless. Lily James does not resemble Pamela Anderson, but she certainly does not resemble Lily James.
Tommy’s pursuit of Pam is unrelenting from the start. He invites himself on her professional trip to Cancun the same night they meet — a meet and greets for Baywatch’s middle-aged syndicators. He calls her number over and over again, leaving a message each time. Pam is disappointed when the roses she receives at the hotel are not from Tommy. You can’t have everything. On the one hand, an accountant would probably send flowers; on the other hand, an accountant is unlikely to track Pam down across national lines and phone her hotel using the identity “Mr. Hugh Weiner.”
Because, as you may have guessed, Tommy is in Cancun. He saves Pam from a boring business dinner by giving her a tour of his personal Mexico, which is set up in the style of “Joe Francis Presents.” Tommy bellows everything he says as if someone nearby is listening in, yet he notices when Pam runs out of margarita. He tosses an ecstasy tablet into the next round, and the show does a decent job of making drugs look both enjoyable and stupid. Pam surprises no one by going home with Tommy after spending the entire night telling her entourage she isn’t going home with Tommy.
They don’t, however, have sex. While standing across the room from each other, they strip. “Would you like to meet him?” says the narrator. Tommy inquires of Pam. Pam meekly breathes, “Yes, I would.” It’s pointless and humiliating to be hot. Tommy Lee has a big penis, as is well known, and Pam describes “him” as “lovely.” They take a bath together and touch. He pets her eyelids as she traces his tattoos and flicks his nipple rings. It’s kind of sweet, in a way. They have a strong attraction to one another.
Every night after that is essentially a repetition of their first night in Mexico, which was a rerun of the night they met in Los Angeles, with a few mid-’90s flourishes thrown in for variety’s sake: When “Tootsie Roll” starts playing, they find themselves in a foam party. Pam & Tommy doesn’t make being “Pam and Tommy” appear glamorous, but their tenacious, even infantile hold on each other is romantic. When Tommy’s anthropomorphic penis tries to persuade his owner — the only recently ex–Mr. Heather Locklear — not to marry, he fails miserably. Oh, to be (not particularly) young and (most likely) in love! Tommy proposes to Pam, and she dons her nicest white bikini — the one she stole from the safe — and says “I do” on a Yucatán beach to a man she only met four days before. The lighting is upbeat, the music is “Steal My Sunshine,” and the timeline is mostly correct. Even still, you can’t help but root for these total morons. Pamela says Tommy, “I’m going to serve you for the rest of your life.” They have a naked pillow battle, the kind you see on TV where the pillows’ feathers escape. They had sex in the tub, on the balcony, and while spraying Champagne.
What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what occurs in Cancun is broadcast in first class right next to you. Pam and Tommy eventually begin the process of getting to know each other on the plane. Pam likes romantic films such as Pretty Woman, whereas Tommy prefers horror. Pam prefers French fries, and Tommy enjoys them as well. They decide in the car on the way home from LAX that “home” will be Tommy’s Malibu estate. Tommy cordially proposes, “We could refurbish together.” The other half of Stan’s act, and the one that sells their love tale, is this. His Tommy has youthful neediness to him, and uncoolness that stands in stark contrast to his tattoos. He says “awesome beans,” and he thinks Pamela Anderson is the nicest person on the planet, and he’d be thrilled if she agreed to help him decorate the house.
So, like kids playing make-believe, they imagine a house with a waterfall, a koi pond, and a meditation gazebo, only it’s not make-believe. They have so much money that they are oblivious to how much they spend. The true cost of their future existence together will be their privacy. The airport is surrounded by photographers, and the fence is surrounded by paparazzi, but the real snake is about to stroll through the front door. Rand, Lonnie, and the rest of the construction crew have arrived to conduct a preliminary walk-through. Yes, Tommy will eventually treat Rand like garbage, but Rand already thinks Tommy is a moron for getting a pentacle tattoo on his calf without comprehending its religious meaning.
Pam and Tommy are married, so that’s a given. Check. I live in Malibu. Check, Rand is on the scene. However, one crucial domino is missing, which Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr will help fit into place, however oddly. On their silk sheets, Mr. and Mrs. Lee are having a pizza and drink night, channel surfing past Baywatch (which Pam despises), Star Trek (which Pam would want to fuck Tommy in space), and finally landing on The King and I, which Pam adores (King Mongkut is kind of a bad boy). Tommy has never seen it, but Pam sings “Getting to Know You,” and Tommy sings along because he’s actually nice when he’s not behaving completely insane. Isn’t this how individuals progress from lust to love? We’re just making a fool of ourselves.
Pam is the one who grabs the camcorder first, in case she ever needs to blackmail Mötley Crüe’s heavy-metal drummer with footage of musical-theater improv. Tommy is the one who places it atop the TV and directs it toward the bed. We don’t know what happens next, but we know who does: Uncle Miltie’s office is already playing the small black cassette.