For decades, Pamela Anderson has been a polarizing “it” girl in pop culture. In that time, the media has contrived a narrative, often one that’s incredibly sexist, dehumanizing who Anderson is at her core — a philanthropist, activist, and mother. Anderson aims to clap back at the inaccurate portrayals of her life, rewriting the narrative and her story with her newest Netflix documentary, Pamela, a Love Story.
Content Warning: mentions of sexual assault
Anderson’s sons Brandon Thomas Lee and Dylan Jagger Lee make guest appearances, highlighting their experiences growing up in the limelight with famous parents and all the turmoil they saw their mom go through as children that made them want to fight back harder to protect her. Over the last several years, the pair of brothers have taken to defending her publicly, and Thomas Lee even serves as a producer on the documentary.
She’s kept all of her diaries and family videos over the years and while Anderson details some of her career highlights — her breakout performance in Baywatch, Barb Wire, and starring on Broadway as Roxie Hart in Chicago, she delicately tells her side of the story on things that have shamed her into silence and darkness for decades.
Growing up in a small town, Anderson also dreamed of a better life and giving back to her family like they had to her. But her life wasn’t picturesque — for years, a female babysitter molested Anderson and she actively protected her brother from the same abuse. After wishing she would die, the next day she passed away in a car accident. For years, Anderson blamed herself because she thought she had caused her death.
After experiencing sexual assault at 12 by a man twice her age, she again blamed herself for what had happened to her. As an adult, Anderson starred in Playboy, which allowed her to take back her sexuality and give her agency over her own body. However, it would also be a contributor to her hyper-sexualization across all forms of media.
Despite all the exploitation of her body, personal life, and career, she finds light in her life by focusing on leaving the world a better place than what she came into it as. Now, she’s here to show the same world what was taken from her and to remind them that Anderson isn’t a damsel, she’s a survivor. She got thrust into unfortunate circumstances and type-cast as a sex symbol from all of Hollywood.
Namely, the infamous story of Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex tape that was stolen and sold without their consent — the video that led to the Pam & Tommy series on Hulu, which Anderson appears deeply triggered by after having rebuilt herself mentally, emotionally, and publicly. “I blocked that out of my life. I had to in order to survive, really. It was a survival mechanism,” Anderson said. “Now that it’s all coming up again, I feel sick from my whole stomach — from the middle of my chest all the way down to my stomach,” she continued. “My stomach feels right now like it’s just been punched.”
But as Anderson says, she’s starting something new in her 50s and she doesn’t know what’s next — but she likes not knowing. And maybe that’s the real story. Anderson could have let it all stop her, but she fought tirelessly through deep-rooted misogyny to create a different life for herself, one that puts her in the driver’s seat this time. Pamela, a Love Story is a raw, unfiltered look into the life of an icon, one that helps embolden her and reclaim her narrative.
Pamela, a Love Story is available to stream on Netflix. Her memoir of the same name is also available to purchase at all major retailers.