The Reel Review
This Netflix documentary traces the highs and lows in the life and career of model, actress and global sex symbol Pamela Anderson, from her fairytale-like discovery in 1989 on a Jumbotron during a Canadian Football League game to 2022’s eight-week run on Broadway as the lead in the iconic play, Chicago – her first acting appearance since 2019.
Weaving a tapestry of interviews with Anderson at her childhood home on Canada’s Vancouver Island that she shares with her mother and grown sons, along with reams of archival footage and excerpts from Anderson’s own impressive array of diaries, director Ryan White (Good Night Oppy, The Keepers) humanizes the blonde sex symbol, as she reveals how her parents’ own volatile marriage and her childhood sexual abuse almost certainly shaped what would be Anderson’s string of romances and marriages in her long-running quest for love.
The career highlights are the more typical and straightforward documentary fodder – touching on Anderson’s stint as a Playboy magazine centerfold and her five-year run on the wildly popular hit TV show Baywatch, and how her career was tarnished after the infamous sex tape with husband Tommy Lee was stolen from their home and released in 1996 to become the world’s first internet viral video.
While the documentary doesn’t tell us all that much that is new, getting the story from Anderson’s perspective elicits more sympathy for her after the public ridicule she endured over the sex tape, made worst by having to relive it again in the 2022 Hulu docuseries which she says was done without her consent. Anderson comes across as very likable, kind-hearted and genuine, living life nowadays on her terms.
• When Anderson started on Baywatch, she was paid $1500 per episode. By the end of her five-season run in 1997, she was making more than $300,000 per episode, one of the highest-paid television actresses at the time.
• Pamela Anderson holds the record for the most appearances on the cover of Playboy magazine.
• Tommy Lee, who was married to Pamela Anderson from 1995 to 1998, married social media celebrity Brittany Furlan in 2019.
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