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Why You Need to Watch the Pamela Anderson Netflix Documentary

Pamela Anderson Netflix
Pamela Anderson Netflix

Pam and Tommy, the 2022 docudrama on Hulu, was part of the recent trend of shows and movies that look back at the scandals of the 1990s through the lens of today while noting that the female protagonist of the story was treated terribly unfairly. 

We’ve seen it with Tonya Harding, Monica Lewinsky, Marcia Clark, Britney Spears, and others. The Hulu show did the same, looking back at the whirlwind courtship and marriage between famed rock drummer Tommy Lee (played by Sebastian Stan) and Baywatch star Pamela Anderson (Lily James). 

The Hulu series was wildly uneven, moving haphazardly between different tones, and going seriously overboard with the pop music needle drops – its director, Craig Gillespie, also directed I, Tonya, which did the same thing. 

Eventually, the series told the story of the infamous sex tape between the couple and re-contextualized the story to make clear that Anderson had been a victim of revenge porn. It also went deep into the machinations of how the tape was stolen, distributed, and sold, through a network of porn industry hangers-on and nascent Internet entrepreneurs. 

While the creators of the Hulu show made clear in just about all their interviews that they were sympathetic to Anderson, the show was not made with the cooperation of either subject, and Anderson said at the time that she both disapproved of the show and that she would not watch it. 

But now, Anderson has her own streaming project. It’s called Pamela: A Love Story, it’s set to hit Netflix on January 31, and the trailer arrived earlier this week. It’s coming out around the same time as the actress’ memoir, Love, Pamela

“I wanna take control of the narrative for the first time,” Anderson says in the documentary. 

We see archival footage of Anderson on red carpets, on the set of Baywatch, and on talk shows. There are also numerous modern-day interviews with Anderson. 

The trailer, scored with the 1990s pop song “Lovefool” by the Cardigans, implies that Anderson was unhappy with the Hulu series, especially for its revisiting of the sex tape episode. 

Pamela Anderson had previously starred in a reality series on E!, Pam: Girl on the Loose!, in 2008. 

Pamela Anderson, even beyond the scope of her Baywatch career and her marriage to Lee, has lived a very colorful life. Her career began in 1989 when she was shown on the Jumbotron at a Canadian Football League game and was hired to model. She played the “Tool Time Girl” on Home Improvement, and three years after that football game, she was cast on Baywatch. 

In addition to Lee, Anderson’s husbands have included Kid Rock, Rick Salomon (the guy from the Paris Hilton sex tape, who married Anderson two different times), and Jon Peters – the 1970s movie producer who was played by Bradley Cooper in the film Licorice Pizza. She also dated another 1980s rock icon, Poison’s Bret Michaels. 

Anderson has been on Dancing with the Stars and made a famous appearance in the first Borat movie. The actress has also been involved with political causes, appearing in PETA campaigns, arguing against internet pornography, and befriending Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. She even made an unsuccessful push for former President Trump to pardon Assange. It’s not clear how much of this will be covered by the documentary, which is a standalone special and not a series. 

The film was directed by the respected documentarian Ryan White, whose acclaimed film Good Night Oppy is currently streaming on Amazon. He has also made films about Dr. Ruth, the fight to overturn California’s Proposition 8, and the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Anderson’s book comes out the same day as the documentary. 

“The actress, activist, and once infamous Playboy Playmate reclaims the narrative of her life in a memoir that defies expectation in both content and approach, blending searing prose with snippets of original poetry,” the book description says. 

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.