February 8, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Pam And Tommy “Pamela In Wonderland”

Episode Six

Well, while I am not surprised this mini-series would eventually pull out one decent man, so to speak, amongst all the others who just don’t get what Pam might be going through, I wasn’t expecting it to be, well, that guy.

Yeah, the “good guy” is Hugh Hefner.

Here’s the thing:  Hefner probably has what can be termed a complicated legacy.  On the one hand, his “Playboy lifestyle” played up keeping a number of much-younger girlfriends around at all times, such that even as he aged, they stayed roughly the same age.  He also did run a magazine that had as its main attraction putting women in various stages of undress inside.  And I am sure there was a lot of less than cool stuff going on in his clubs across the country.  On the other hand, Hefner always publicly at least seemed to show respect to the women he dealt with, and he was an advocate for free speech, often giving his models a platform for their own activism.  Sure, he asked them to pose for his magazine, but he also gave them voices.  Regardless of how someone might feel about Hefner overall, that puts him far ahead of the other pornographers on display in this series.

Heck, when Pamela goes for her first Playboy shoot, she is told by the photographer that she only has to do what she’s comfortable doing and that this isn’t Penthouse.  Pamela actually brought her mother along for the shoot, and this may be the first time in any episode where Pamela was actually treated like something of a human being with some free agency.  The episode even shows her boyfriend from when her modeling career took off.  He objected to Playboy mostly because of how he felt about it, not whether or not she wanted it.

Really, then, having Hefner sit down and basically tell Pamela, without ever even remotely coming onto her, that she should always remember her self-worth and what that alone is worth really says a lot about this story.  Even Tommy didn’t seem to get that.

Point is, Hefner may be the closest this mini-series has to a guy who won’t jerk Pamela around at all.  Tommy is close.  Rand, well, he seems more intent on hurting Tommy by using Pam.  Rand has never really spoken to her and Tommy seems to ignore her wishes and prefers to engage in in his own style of retribution.  The only male character to actually treat her like a real person worth listening to is Hugh freakin’ Hefner.

Such that this episode, when not flashing back to how Pam got her start, shows a disastrous deposition where Bob Guccione’s lawyers not only play the tape but argue since Pam was performing these actions in theoretically public spaces, then she has no standing over loss of privacy.  It doesn’t matter that no one saw her doing these things with her husband so much as someone could have been seeing these things, and since she’s posed for Playboy, then maybe she doesn’t deserve privacy.

Pam & Tommy isn’t a subtle show, but when the court stenographer, the only other woman in the scene with the lawyers, offers something like sympathy, saying this was among the worst depositions she’s ever seen, I think that’s saying something.  Once again, I am not sure something like this could have come out before, but now, after #MeToo, it does add a relevancy that many people might not have listened to when these events were new.  That creates an important sense of cultural reflection, and I am glad I set time aside for this mini-series between batches of Ozark episodes.

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