Pamela Anderson knows more than most about exploitation and the horror of having your own story stolen from you. It happened to her, first, in the ‘90s during the infamous Tommy Lee sex tape scandal. It happened again this past year with Hulu’s biographical series Pam & Tommy—a show that attempted to illustrate the effect of that violation on the actress’ life without ever receiving consent from the real-life woman at its center.
Now, at long last, Pamela Anderson is taking back the reins of her own history and image in Netflix’s Pamela, a love story, a documentary that asks “why can’t we be the heroes of our own life story?”
Anderson is so much more than the worst moment of her life. Yes, she dominated headlines for a decade due to a horrible incident out of her control. Yes, she was a Playboy cover model. She is also a movie star, advocate, Broadway actress, and human being—all elements of her life that this new documentary seems to be handling with the tenderness and care she should have been afforded long ago.
Abandoning her recognizable, dark-eyed ‘90s look, a bare-faced Anderson sits in front of the camera and tells viewers that she wants to “take control of the narrative for the first time.” If cultural knowledge of Anderson’s life isn’t enough, a devastating follow-up clip, wherein a reporter from Anderson’s Baywatch days asks her if she “wants to be a serious actress,” to which Anderson responds “I am a serious actress” to peals of laughter from off-camera spectators makes it abundantly clear just how overdue this corrective is.
Through it all, Anderson hasn’t lost her sense of humor. In the trailer’s final seconds, she giggles and says: “Maybe I just do all the interviews naked. There’s no mystery here.” It’s the same kind of thing her detractors have been saying for decades; only now, it’s Anderson’s turn to have the last laugh.
Pamela, A Love Story premieres January 31 on Netflix.