The teaser for Hulu’s Pam & Tommy dropped this week, and while the physical transformations of Lily James and Sebastian Stan into Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, respectively, are jaw-dropping, you know what really hooks me? The way James lands on the line, “No, not like me you’re not.” It comes when Tommy reminds her that he is “on that tape, same as you” and she comes back with that line: “No, not like me you’re not.”
THAT is what I want from Pam & Tommy. The comedic angle is there, for sure, in the fast-forward bit and the little we see of Seth Rogen as Rand Gauthier, committing the truly bonkers heist that netted him Pam and Tommy’s personal home videos. But then there is Lily James hitting that line with just the right combination of vulnerability and horror, a woman who knows to her marrow that this isn’t just going to blow over—compounded by the audience’s meta knowledge that once The Tape hits the internet, there is no getting it back, something Pam and Tommy wouldn’t know in the moment—that it IS a big deal to have their tape out in the world, that she will not be treated the same as her husband in this circumstance.
Maybe the whole series will go off the rails, the but the thread that emerges in the teaser, besides the 1990s nostalgia, is how The Tape represents not only a sharp divergence in celebrity culture, but also how starkly it paints the double standards that still hound women to this day. The last few years have been huge for reassessing how famous women have been treated, historically, by the entertainment industry and celebrity culture at large. We’ve looked back on Britney Spears and Brittany Murphy in the 2000s, Hulu’s documentary on Janet Jackson and the “wardrobe malfunction” launches today, and now it’s Pamela Anderson’s turn.