Pam & Tommy comes to an end, not with a hard bang but instead with a flaccid whimper.
The final episode of Pam & Tommy opened with Seth Rogen’s Rand Gauthier wandering around with a pained expression on his face. Apparently, this was the one thing that Rand was good at. Rand has been beating up people who owe Butchie money but it’s starting to trouble him. Rand believes in karma and thinks that being a glorified mob enforcer will turn karma against him. Or maybe being a glorified mob enforcer is karma’s way of punishing Rand for stealing a sex tape and trying to sell it online in the first place. It’s hard to say. All I know is that there was way too much Rand and way too much karma talk for me. The show may be based on what Rand claims actually happened to him but the idea of Rand, with his mom jeans and his mullet, becoming a feared debt collector is simply a bit too much. Perhaps because he was just as sick of listening to Rand whine as the rest of us, Butchie offered to let Rand off the hook if Rand would simply pay him $10,000. Rand, of course, doesn’t have $10,000, despite being responsible for coming up with the most profitable and lucrative use of the internet ever. Loser!
Meanwhile, Tommy attempts to make a musical comeback by imitating the 90s Seattle sound while an actual resident of Seattle, Seth Warshovsky (Fred Hechinger), offers to buy the rights to Pam and Tommy’s sex tape. On the one hand, selling the rights to Warshovsky will allow Warshovsky to sue anyone who is distributing and making money off of bootlegged copies. On the other hand, it will also lead people to assume that Pam and Tommy were behind the video’s initial release. Pam wants to do it. Tommy refuses. Their marriage starts to crumble. The episode insinuates that the tape caused Pam to miss out on opportunities to appear in both L.A. Confidential and Austin Powers which …. yeah. I’m honestly going to say that, as far as Pam not becoming a movie star and losing roles to Kim Basinger and Elizabeth Hurley, there may have been factors in play other than the sex tape and hypocritical American puritanism. One can sympathize with what Pam went through while also still being honest about the fact that she was never a particularly good actress. If anything, her talent and persona were perfect for television.
After 8 hours, the finale of Pam & Tommy didn’t add up too much. We start to see that Pam is getting sick of Tommy’s immaturity and that Tommy can’t control his temper, even around Pam. But it’s not until the end title cards that we’re informed that Pam and Tommy divorced after Tommy was arrested and did jail time for spousal abuse. (We’re also told that both Pam and Tommy consider each other but the love of their lives, which is kind of a bold statement to make when neither Pam nor Tommy had anything to do with the production of Pam & Tommy.) Seth Warshovsky pays Rand a total of $10,000 for the original copy of the sex tape and then goes on to make several million dollars off of it. Rand considers using the money to settle his debt with Butchie but instead he gives the money to his ex-wife because that’s what karma would want him to do. (One has to wonder if anyone involved with Pam & Tommy ever watched a little show called My Name Is Earl.) Those helpful title cards inform us that Rand moved to North California and now works as a marijuana grower and that he still struggles to get people to believe that he’s the man who actually stole the tape. It doesn’t mention whether he did anything about his hair.
The main problem with Pam & Tommy is that the story itself just wasn’t interesting enough to demand 8 hours of screen time. The second biggest problem, and this is a problem with a lot of streaming miniseries, is that the show itself never really settled on a consistent tone. Was it a drama or was it a live action cartoon? The show couldn’t seem to make up its mind. Themes were raised and then abandoned, as if the show itself was desperately trying to justify its existence. Lily James gave a good performance as Pam. Sebastin Stan has a few good moments as Tommy Lee. Seth Rogen, Taylor Schilling, Andrew “Dice” Clay, and Nick Offerman all gave their characters one-note interpretations that didn’t add up too much. Considering the talent involved, it’s all a bit of a shame.
Oh well. It’s over now.