Pamela faces a harrowing deposition and flashes back to how she began her career.
This recap of the Hulu series Pam & Tommy Season 1 Episode 6, “Pamela in Wonderland,” contains spoilers.
In a man’s world, once a woman commodifies her body she becomes othered. Our culture has so many derogatory words for sex workers that are used by the same men who benefit from their services; the two go hand in hand. Midway into Pam & Tommy’s it becomes abundantly clear why the court called Pamela, and not her husband, to a deposition: she’s made a career off of images of her nude body — why is a video any different?
Of course, this being a “prestige” miniseries, each question launches us into a flashback. First, we see young Pamela being scouted after she’s shown on a Jumbotron at a stadium. Her career modeling for a brewery in Vancouver leads to her receiving a call from Playboy. Pamela’s jealous boyfriend disapproves, but his rage just illustrates why she should take them up.
Pam & Tommy Season 1 Episode 6 recap
The deposition panel, composed of ominously suited white men, question her about Tommy and his sexual exploits. As far as she knows, he had no relations with sex workers, but it soon becomes clear that she is who they refer to. “Would you not consider posing naked for a camera during a sex act,” the lead questioner asks.
She remembers her first time posing naked. The playboy mansion is depicted as a dream come true (not the experience for everyone, as you can read about online), with champagne and an army of stylists. The photoshoot is a blast for her, as she slowly disrobes, giggling the whole time. Hefner meets with her and gives her some advice: separate her price from her worth. Even her mother is supportive.
Returning to the deposition, the lawyer stresses her relationship with Hefner and implies that she released the tape to Penthouse as her Playboy paychecks were flatlining, and she’s suing Guccione as a way of staying on Hefner’s good side. It’s absurd and cruel, and the worst is still to come. She’s accused of shooting the video for financial gain. She’s a nude model, so why shouldn’t it follow that the video is just another paycheck.
Pamela’s private moments are put under intense scrutiny, and she’s in tears as they play the video, and repeatedly question if she did this as a show of exhibitionism. It’s unbearable cruel. In a final flashback, we learn that the tape relates to her desire for motherhood. Tommy jokes that it may contain the conception of her child, her real dream. And now this dream turns into a nightmare, her miscarriage in a cruel joke.
Throughout the episode, director Hannah Fidell emphasizes solidarity among women. The stenographer, the only other woman in the deposition room, comes to check up on Pamela in the bathroom and validates her pain. At the end, Pamela apologizes to the cleaning lady for the mess the men have made. Throughout this, Tommy only exists in flashback, as a man who loves her but isn’t there for her when she needs it.
When she returns to the bathroom she’s spared any more pain by the clock. Pamela tells her lawyer she will not continue, she cannot face any more humiliation, for that’s what it is. The legal system becomes just another tool to embarrass her.
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