The Thing About Pam Turns an Actual Murder Into a Campy Melodrama

Pam. NBC. Tuesday, March 8th at 10:05 p.m.

I don’t think you’ve heard of Pam Hupp, Katy Mixon and Ross Faria. They are among the most notorious murderers (and victims) of crime. Dateline NBCThey are the worst of the American TV true-crime massacres. They’ve been featured on five—five!—episodes, and fans still worshiped them with such utter adoration that they even got their own podcast, where they didn’t have to share time with honeymoon killers, meth-head twins and reluctant Olivia Newton-John fiancés.

They now have a prime-time drama in which they are played by stars like Rene Zellweger, Josh Duhamel and others. The next stage, I believe, will include handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and possibly an invitation for a competition. The Masked Singer.

Even if it’s your first time watching, Dateline NBC—but more especially if you have—NBC’s miniseries Pam’s Best Thing is irresistibly entertaining. This is what makes it one of the most entertaining movies. DatelineOne of the most bizarre cases in Midwestern history, this Midwestern murder turned into a campy comedy. boo! hiss! villains who are as absurd—and as lovably engaging—as any summer mystery theater. Not only mocking its characters and audience, but its genre as well. Pam’s Best Thing is as funny as a show about a corpse with 57 stab wounds can be.

Its clichés are proudly front and center: The victim was gored with a knife from her own kitchen, so naturally the next shot is off a knife sawing apart a steak so rare that it’s practically mooing. One particularly nasty witness passes the time before her turn on the stand by reading a novel by Fox News lynchmistress Nancy Grace.

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Even NBC’s indelible memories are a thing of the past DatelineThis show, now in its 30th year and counting, takes some elbow jabs. Pam’s Best Thing is narrated by Keith Morrison, who performs the same duty on Dateline and has deliberately overamped his already uber-cheesy delivery: “Who would ever think This goodbye would turn out to be Permanent?” The production credits even on Pam’s Best Thing sound like a parody. The bastard progeny is a documentary section of NBC News or Blumhouse Television. They are known for their quick slice-and-dice dishes like The Purge. It’s sort of like Walter Cronkite making a film for William Castle.

It is the six-hour period that can be most challenging to negotiate your way through. Pam’s Best Thing is remembering that, though fictionalized, it’s a real story about real people in a real town trapped in a conspiracy of idiots. Glenn Fleshler (BillionsRuss Faria is an amicable, goofy character played by ). Dungeons & DragonsAction (they attacked Lord of Entropy!) Betsy’s body was lying on the floor of their living room. Based on not much more than Russ’ admittedly weird reaction—confronted with a dead body cross-hatched with stab wounds and a knife sticking prominently from her neck, he exclaims that “I think she killed herself!”—he’s arrested and charged with murder.

Russ’s senses are not questioned by the police. Although the living area looks like it’s a slaughterhouse in comparison to the rest of the house, one officer notes that he didn’t find any blood on Russ. A second officer concludes that he must have washed his hands. Leah Askey, the chipper prosecution (Judy Greer), Arrested DevelopmentEven more troubling is the fact that he () has never been questioned. She tells cops that the man stabbed his wife “57 times” but he wasn’t naked or spraying Lysol on his stomach. He must have misread a spot. She is a remarkable woman of flexibility and decides Russ has to be real Did You can commit murder naked. But, no Lysol. We must not act silly.

What little circumstantial evidence that there is against Russ—that he sometimes argued with his wife and had once been separated from her—nearly all comes from Betsy’s unctuous buttinsky of a friend named Pam Hupp, whose twin pathologies include inveterate lying and a transparently phony sweetness that obvious to everyone not wearing a badge. Her tips for the police or prosecutors that she gives are not always true, and sometimes seem completely irrelevant. Did you know Betsy was an inverted nipper?” Is she only annoying gossip from the small town or is there something worse?

As you observe, the answer might seem intuitive Pam’s Best Thing, which is less a whodunnit than a whydunnit or even a what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-these-people-who-dunnit. But I’m not going to spoil anything here; if you want to be able to smugly lecture your neighbors about which character is lying more and which character is lying (a little) less, there are plenty of true-crime blogs out there with the scoop.

What’s the Deal? WillThe shocking truth is that Renee Zellweger is not the same actress who plays the role of Pam Hupp. Zellweger holds two Oscars. However, in the unlikely event that Zellweger wins an Emmy award for her portrayal of Hupp, an asterisk will be added for the three to four tons of prosthetics and fat suits she spent hours dressing up each day. But her Hupp portrayal is far more than the triumph of tubby tech. Zellweger’s mix of sly half-smiles, rage breakdowns and malicious half-smiles serves as a reminder to remember that you can sometimes really be naughty. Can judge a book by its cover. You should definitely check out this book.