A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
There are not many positive messages from The Thing About Pam apart from feeling empathy and compassion for Russ Faria, who was framed for the murder of his wife, Betsy.
Positive Role Models
There weren't positive role models in The Things About Pam. The only semi-positive character is Russ, an innocent man framed of murder.
Few diverse representations; there are two women of color who play crime scene technicians.
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Violence & Scariness
Scenes with a brutalized dead body and violent descriptions of murder. Wording such as "killed herself," etc., when Betsy's death is framed as suicide.
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Wording about suicide that could be triggering ("killed herself" opposed to "died by suicide").
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Products & Purchases
Drink brands, such as Dr. Pepper, Minute Maid, Nestea, Minute Maid, Sprite are shown, as is Arby's. Arby's, in particular, takes on a big role within the Betsy Faria murder case.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Scenes with characters drinking beers and smoking weed. The narrator uses the wording "case of the munchies."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Thing About Pam is a dramedy based on the Dateline reports and podcast about the 2011 murder case involving Pam Hupp. The series has some violence and descriptions of self-harm, as well as scenes with drinking and drugs. Consumerism involving soft drinks is shown.
Is It Any Good?
This series is a frustrating and surprisingly boring attempt to cash in on the true crime boom. First is the obvious controversy over Zellweger in a fat suit to portray Hupp. It's clear that this series is meant as a star vehicle for Zellweger, who also serves as an executive producer. But the decision to play Hupp in a fat suit cheapens the characterization. This is exacerbated by showing Zellweger opposite actual plus-size actress Katy Mixon, who plays the series' victim.
There is no true internal conflict or seeming interest in the story about Hupp -- it appears that one of the only reasons the series was created was to cash on the boom true crime podcasts are having in pop culture. The other reason seems to be to an attempt to cash in on the popularity bigger-than-life characters are having in the zeitgeist in general, such as the characters from the Tiger King documentaries. However, The Thing About Pam doesn't seem interested in telling us why Hupp is so enigmatic, or why true crime listeners became enthralled with her tale of murder. Its rare plot points are peppered with meandering, meaningless narration that try to make the show feel strangely more like Desperate Housewives, Fargo, or Pushing Daisies rather than a dramatic retelling of a real event. The series also seems just as disinterested in Betsy Faria (Mixon), the woman Hupp killed. The Thing About Pam, therefore, feels offensive to Faria's memory, since she was more than just an object for a quirky story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.