Pam & Tommy episode 1 recap – “Drilling and Pounding”

February 2, 2022 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
Cole Sansom 0
Hulu, Streaming Service, Weekly TV
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Pam & Tommy’s first episode follows Rand Gauthier, a carpenter who is spurned by Lee, and thus devises a plan to rob him, taking home more than cash.

This recap of Hulu series Pam & Tommy episode 1 contains spoilers.

“Exposure,” that’s the word Jay Leno (played with a surplus of prosthetics by comedian Adam Ray) uses to describe the distribution of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s private recording. Obviously, the word has multiple meanings, and of course, the whole thing is exposed again with the release of Pam & Tommy on Hulu.

Pam & Tommy episode 1 recap

Curiously, the eight-episode miniseries chooses to start off by showing rather little of the central couple (played with plenty of prosthetics by Lily James and Sebastian Stan, the former of who has almost nothing besides that brief opening interview). First we get an insight into the how, but more importantly the why of the tape’s theft, by framing it as a story about the little guys in the shadow of rich Hollywood assholes who would normally take up all the atmosphere. Placing such a class-centered story on the outset is a gambit for sure, and it’s not clear whether doing so will create new layers that justify this retelling or just make a tale of misogyny into just another story about a butthurt man.

For now, all I can say for sure is that the episode is pretty entertaining and more than succeeds at diverting our sympathies away from Tommy Lee and towards the man who he wronged. That would be Rand Gauthier, aptly played by Seth Rogan, a contractor working on a swanky new bedroom in Lee’s mansion.

Every day, Gauthier and his coworker Lonnie (Larry Brown) break their backs catering to their employer’s random whims. Whenever they have something in place, a practically naked Lee will strut over to tell them that, actually, he wants the bed on the other side of the room. Money is no object (“MINO”) he repeatedly assures them, despite owning them both a significant chunk of change.

It doesn’t hurt that Gauthier’s life couldn’t be more different than his piece of s**t boss’s. Gauthier goes home to his apartment, where he struggles to pay the bills and his only hobby seems to be masturbating; no Playboy wife, only soft-core pornography. Rand actually has a history in that industry himself, but that’s not introduced until the episode’s end.

A series of escalations leads to Lee pointing a gun at Gauthier in a bit of psychological intimidation, then Gauthier walking in on Anderson in the kitchen, and he and Lonnie are fired. When Rand returns to get his tools, Lee threatens to shoot him for real this time, and he’s out of the door as fast as he can p**s his pants.

This, unfortunately, leads to a flashback to Rand’s childhood, an unnecessary bit of bloat in an otherwise solid episode. As a child, Rand dealt with the fallout of his father’s affairs, he remembers pissing his pants when his father called him a “worthless piece of s**t.” It’s an unnecessary bit of history that doesn’t extend Rand’s psychology or motivation, but what the hell, we’re back to Rogan who’s always fun to watch. 

The ending

Previously, he had discussed the concept of “karma” with Lonnie (actually Lonnie introduced him to the world after Rand claimed he was a student of religion). Given this recent infraction, he yells out “I’m Karma,” and thus begins an extensive stake-out and heist preparation. 

And say what you will about Rand, he’s determined. Even though Lonnie flakes at the last minute, Gauthier pulls off the heist with surprising success, stealing Lee’s entire safe which contains cash, guns, and more…

…and among that more lies a curious object. After some time spent celebrating his victory, he takes this tape to an old friend. Uncle Miltie, played by Nick Offerman, is a porn director, who takes a few minutes off set to entertain Rand. As the two watch the tape, their eyes widen as they realize that they’ve stumbled on the holy grail of their industry.

Additional points

  • The plethora of music that signals “It’s 1995” is as expected: Fatboy Slim, but some of the choices are particularly unsubtle, such as Primal Scream’s “Movin’ on Up,” played when Rand looks through his new riches.
  • It’s cool that Lily James and Sebastian Stan have joint top billing in the credits. Obviously, they didn’t get a lot to do here, but we do get more than a sense of Lee’s personality…
  • Waterbeds are “an entirely different construction process.” Maybe Lee should’ve contracted Gary Valentine!

What did you think of Hulu series Pam & Tommy episode 1? Comment below. 

You can watch this series with a subscription to Hulu. 

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