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Fact vs Fiction — 'Pam & Tommy' season 1 episode 2: did Pam & Tommy really have a whirlwind romance?

Pam & Tommy Sebastian Stan Lily James
Sebastian Stan and Lily James in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

This post contains spoilers for Pam & Tommy season 1 episode 2, "I Love You, Tommy." 

The second episode of Pam & Tommy opens on Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen) and Uncle Miltie (Nick Offerman) watching the contents of the Hi8 tape that Gauthier found in Tommy (Sebastian Stan) and Pam’s (Lily James) stolen safe. The scene cuts from the video Rand and Miltie are watching to the actual boat before the clock spins back two months to the first night the couple set eyes on each other. Did all this really occur in such a short timeframe? 

“I Love You, Tommy,” is a proper introduction to the couple (particularly Pam) who are very much supporting characters in the premiere episode. The series was adapted from Amanda Chicago Lewis’ 2014 Rolling Stone article (opens in new tab) that explores the events surrounding the theft and subsequent release of the infamous tape, but it isn’t only Gauthier’s perspective that is taken into account. It is worth noting that the series didn’t have any input from Pamela Anderson; despite the good intentions and excellent portrayals, it's hard not to consider Anderson’s position at reliving this painful experience (opens in new tab)

However, Stan told Variety (opens in new tab) that he did connect with Lee (though the actor declined to go into specifics), and the creative team also used Lee’s 2004 memoir, Tommyland (opens in new tab), as a source material. The latter also inspired dialogue for the already much-talked-about conversation between Tommy and his famous appendage (voiced by Jason Mantzoukas) that takes place in “I Love You, Tommy.”    

We are going to separate fact from fiction in the limited series Pam & Tommy. This episode-by-episode guide continues with the romance of the titular couple and how quickly the couple got hitched. 

When did Pam and Tommy first meet?

Lily James in Pam & Tommy

Lily James in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

“Tommy, here’s a shot of Goldschläger. It’s for you, from Pamela Anderson,” is how Lee recalls the New Year’s Eve nightclub meet-cute in the Mötley Crüe autobiography The Dirt (opens in new tab) (excerpted here (opens in new tab) in Rolling Stone). The portrayed version is very similar — albeit not set on Dec. 31 — with Pam buying the entire nightclub a shot of the popular Swiss cinnamon schnapps. Lee took the opportunity to join Anderson and her girlfriends just as he does in the series; he even greeted the Baywatch star in the same way. “I grabbed her face and just licked the side of it, from chin to temple,” he said before describing how Anderson repeated this gesture to her friend sitting next to her. The main difference is Lee describes Pam as wearing all white whereas the series opts for a stunning gold Vivienne Westwood mini dress.

Pam has earlier sworn off dating another bad boy and her BFF Melanie (Pepi Sonuga) gets her to pinky swear that she won’t fall back into old habits with Tommy. However, it is hard to deny chemistry. Tommy walks Pam to her car where they share a smooch. When he finds out she is traveling to Cancún for work the following day, he insists he is coming. He then walks this back if she gives him her number. The real version of events features Melanie (whose car Pam is going home in), who Lee later found out told Anderson to steer clear of the notorious rock star. Instead of the following day, the Cancún trip actually occurred six weeks after, but biopics tend to alter timelines for narrative purposes and all the major beats are similar.  

Did they get married in Cancún after four days?

Sebastian Stan and Lily James in Pam & Tommy

Sebastian Stan and Lily James in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

Short answer, yes. The nuptials timeframe is sped up in Pam & Tommy, which doesn’t include the six-week gap between their first meeting and this trip, but the series does accurately capture other elements as per Lee’s account. Anderson’s work trip for a photoshoot (in the show it is to meet Baywatch affiliates) provides the reason for this chance to get out of Los Angeles. Lee did call multiple hotels before he tracked down Anderson at the Ritz-Carlton. 

The real Anderson was initially annoyed by his inability to listen to her instructions (“But her friends were on my side this time,” Lee said), but the opposite is true in the show's depiction. Melanie continues to play the concerned friend and refers to Tommy as a stalker.

Tommy’s tank top and jeans don’t match the Ritz-Carlton dress code both in Lee’s account and what we see unfold in Pam & Tommy. The series even utilizes the same bar name (Señor Frogs) as the couple ventures on what would turn out to be their first official date. 

The night they met, Lee was high, but his account in The Dirt says “the magic returned without the Ecstasy.” The Hulu adaptation, however, portrays the couple drinking and taking this drug before going back to Pam’s hotel room — the article the series is based on referred to this four-day encounter as “Ecstasy-enhanced.” It is the following morning that Tommy has his chat with his appendage, which reminds him of his recent divorce (Tommy split from Heather Locklear two years earlier).   

The spontaneous proposal is also pretty accurate (although Lee used his own pinky ring and not his friend’s) before the pair found someone to marry them on the beach the following day. The real-life grainy photos (opens in new tab) capture the happy couple and the series reflects this moment right down to costume designer Kameron Lennox finding shorts that resemble the khaki ones worn by Lee. 

How did they decide where to live?

TV tonight Lily James and Sebastian Stan as the celebrity couple

Lily James and Sebastian Stan in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Disney+)

A whirlwind romance doesn’t leave much time to get to know each other, so on the plane we see the newlyweds sharing things like favorite movies. Pam is into romance like Ghost, Sleepless in Seattle and Pretty Woman (in 1994 she told Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab) her favorites are Much Ado About Nothing, Staying Alive and Hot Shots! Part Deux). They also have to decide after they have land whose house they are going back to. They settle on Tommy’s Malibu mansion — as they did in real life. This home would soon become the scene of the crime that led to their privacy being violated. 

More Pam and Tommy Fact vs. Fiction

Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.