The Thing About Pam TV Review

Plot: Based on the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria that resulted in her husband Russ’ conviction, although he insisted he didn’t kill her. He was later exonerated. This brutal crime set off a chain of events that would expose a diabolical scheme deeply involving Pam Hupp.

Review: True crime is beginning to hit peak saturation on the small screen. In the last two months alone we have had Super Pumped, The Dropout, Joe vs. Carole, and Inventing Anna. That does not include documentaries or upcoming shows like The Girl From Plainville. At some point, audiences are going to tire of the genre, but until then we can expect streaming services and networks to keep adapting every sordid documentary or podcast they can. The latest series based on a sensational crime is NBC’s The Thing About Pam. Starring Renee Zellweger as Pam Hupp, The Thing About Pam takes a far lighter and comical tone than the aforementioned shows which is both a blessing and a curse. Ultimately, it doesn’t do much to save this series which borders on parody and comes across as disrespectful to the parties involved.

The Thing About Pam comes from an in-house story reported by NBC news magazine series Dateline. What originated as a multi-episode story and subsequent podcast evolved into this six-episode series. Showrunner Jessika Borsiczky and writers Jenny Klein, Kirk Moore, and Travis Sentell took the approach of telling this violent story with a dark sense of humor. That means the series tries very hard to ape the Coen Bros film Fargo by featuring characters too strange to be made up and layering heavy prosthetics on Renee Zellweger. Everyone involved is acting as if they are in on the joke but end up seeming just plain silly.

Renee Zellweger, who recently won an Oscar for Best Actress, does a great job of playing the desperately unlikable Pam Hupp. From the outset, you know this woman is bad and up to no good and Zellweger never tries to make her seem like anything more than the villain of this story. With multiple murders to her name, Hupp is the perfect character for a story on Dateline, but The Thing About Pam almost turns her into a punchline. Zellweger mimics Hupp’s ticks and mannerisms, but the mediocre make-up work and fat suit are never convincing.

The rest of the cast is comprised of famous faces who don silly wigs and outfits to take part in this tale. Josh Duhamel and Judy Greer portray the attorneys on either side of the case and both have awful hair. Katy Mixon and Glenn Fleshler portray Betsy and Russ Faria and both, you guessed it, wear bad wigs. While all make for entertaining spoofs of real people, all of them would have been better served had this story been fictionalized and pushed even more over the top. As it is, the narration element is very distracting. The voice-over is performed by Keith Morrison, the noted Dateline journalist, which makes this series come across like a dramatic reenactment rather than a narrative series of its own. Morrison’s narration also sounds more tongue-in-cheek which detracts from the brutal crime being shown on screen.

This series comes from Blumhouse, which inspired some hope in me initially. While I was not kind to Jason Blum’s production company in their early days, Blumhouse has financed some original and unique movies and series over the years. But, The Thing About Pam is a failure on all fronts. Looking at the genesis of this series, it is clear that it was built by network executives looking for in-house IP they could adapt into a multi-episode series rather than coming up with an original story or purchasing the rights to a tale with more name recognition. On its own, The Thing About Pam is a fascinating story but not one that should have been turned into a television series.

The Thing About Pam is exactly what is wrong with network series these days. As Hollywood has embraced the small screen, it has been predominantly on streaming platforms or premium cable networks. NBC has spent so much time on reality television and sitcoms that they may have forgotten what it takes to tell a truly engaging tale. The Thing About Pam could have been a really good show had it either taken itself more seriously or less so. As it stands, this is a show that thinks it is funnier than it is and doesn’t have the quality writing to support that. Even over six episodes, this series is far too long and not worth the effort that Renee Zellweger puts into playing the title character.

The Thing About Pam premieres on March 8th on NBC.



About the Author

5928 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.