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Hulu’s limited series Pam & Tommy tells the real-life story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex tape being stolen by electrician Rand Gauthier and circulated via the internet in the late ’90s — but not every scene in the series actually happens. When it comes to Anderson and Lee’s real-life love story, many aspects of the TV show have been faithful to fact, taking Lily James’ Pam and Sebastian Stan’s Tommy through an intense four-day courtship ending in marriage that Anderson and Lee both confirm having occurred. But as the eighth and final episode airs, showing the eventual dissolution of Anderson and Lee’s marriage, how accurate is Pam & Tommy to why and how their relationship finally fell apart? Here’s what we were able to find out.
Unlike other aspects of Pam & Tommy (like much of Rand Gauthier’s life around the time of the robbery), Anderson and Lee’s whirlwind romance has been described across a wealth of resources in the 27 years since they met in 1994 — numerous talk show and magazine interviews with both Anderson and Lee, Lee’s memoir Tommyland
(to which Anderson contributed), and Mötley Crüe memoir The
have all provided accounts of various stages of Anderson and Lee’s relationship.
Early in Pam & Tommy, we see the couple first lock eyes from across the room at a nightclub: In real life, that club was Sanctuary, co-owned by Anderson. In Tommyland, Lee remembers her sending him a shot on that fateful night in 1994: Goldschläger. In return, he came over to her table, sat down, and licked her face “like a f**king big dog.”
If you’ve watched the show, you’ll remember that Sebastian Stan’s Tommy does just that — and then this happened, as Lee writes in The Dirt: “She f**king laughed and, without missing a beat, turned away and licked the face of the girl next to her. Everyone started passing licks around the table.”
“Maybe if I had done that when I was sober, I would have seemed like some kind of invasive asshole,” Lee adds. “But I was on Ecstasy, so it was all good, and anything I did was innocent and full of love and a yearning to bond with all of humanity.”
Anderson has denied any accounts that she partook in recreational drug use alongside Lee — though Pam & Tommy shows her doing just that. The next step in the Anderson-Lee romance is the same in both the series and real life, though in real life, it happens six weeks after they first meet, not the next day. Lee follows Anderson to Mexico and they become inseparable, getting married after he proposes in three days and sealing the deal with a permanent tribute to their love.
“We gave blood, sniffed out a marriage license and were on the beach getting married before the day was over,” Lee wrote in The Dirt. “Instead of wedding bands, we went for something more permanent: Tattoos of each other’s names around our fingers.”
The tattoo brings us to the final episode of Pam & Tommy, at the end of which (spoilers!), James’ Pam gets her “Tommy” tattoo altered so it reads “Mommy,” looking over at her and Lee’s infant son. This happened in real life; Anderson changed the tattoo after their 1998 divorce, when their sons Brandon and Dylan were just a few years old.
Also in 1998: Lee was arrested and charged with felony spousal abuse for a domestic violence incident and sentenced to six months in prison. Anderson filed for divorce hours after his arrest.
Pam & Tommy — thankfully — doesn’t attempt to recreate the scene Lee describes in The Dirt as having led to his arrest, instead listing the information about his arrest and jail time on screen after the final shot of James’ Pam. The show does depict Stan’s Tommy becoming aggressive with James’ Pam, shouting at her and intimidating her during her pregnancy, and one memorable fight in Malibu that also seems to have been inspired by Lee’s writing.
“We got in a huge-ass blowout in the middle of the casino,” he wrote in The Dirt. “I grabbed her to take her into the room so the f**king gossip columns wouldn’t be filled with news of us fighting in public, and she went ballistic. Our anger kept escalating until she finally ran out of the hotel, took the car and drove back to Malibu, alone. I had to crawl back to the house on my hands and knees, begging for mercy.”
Overall, the couple’s growing apart seems to mimic what both Anderson and Lee describe in Tommyland, to which both sides of the couple contributed sometimes-differing memories of their relationship.
“[The sex tape] was driving Tommy and me crazy and it was ruining our relationship,” Anderson wrote in the book — which could pretty much be a summary of the final episode of Pam & Tommy.
And as for the final scene of Pam staring wistfully at a picture of Tommy on the wall — as the series also notes seconds later, Anderson and Lee do reunite in 2008, getting married a second time, then getting divorced a second time in 2010. Pam & Tommy certainly suggests that Anderson and Lee shared a great love, were maybe even soulmates — and that doesn’t entirely differ from how Anderson and Lee have described the relationship regardless of how it ended.
“There was Tommy and then there was nobody else. He was the love of my life,” Anderson told People in 2015. “We had a wild and crazy beginning that was too much for both of us.”
All eight episodes of Pam & Tommy are now streaming on Hulu.
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