Hit mini-series Pam & Tommy depicts Pamela Anderson’s discovery at 1989 CFL game

Photo courtesy: Hulu

Come for the sex, drugs, and rock & roll, stay for the depictions of the 1989 CFL season.

That’s clearly the motto of the hit mini-series Pam & Tommy, which released it’s sixth episode this week.

The series — which depicts the relationship between Canadian model and actress Pamela Anderson (played by Lily James) and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee (played by Sebastian Stan) around the time of their infamous sex tape — did a deep dive on Anderson’s backstory in the episode entitled “Pamela in Wonderland” including her discovery at a B.C. Lions game at the age of 22.

Though shot in Los Angeles, the production team went all-out depicting the August 9, 1989 game between the Edmonton Football Team and B.C. Lions at BC Place stadium in Vancouver, showing a packed crowd in retro Lions gear and several short sequences of game action.

The series appears to have nailed several of the details, including a one-yard neutral zone and an interior shot of the stadium’s infamous inflatable domed roof, in telling the true story of how an appearance on the Lions’ jumbotron landed the Ladysmith native her first modeling gig for the Labatt Brewing Company. Anderson would go on to stardom as a Playboy model and actress, most notably in the television show Baywatch.

The show, which is produced by Vancouver natives Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, couldn’t quite nail all the aspects however, as the CFL football depicted on screen prominently features the logo the league adopted in 2003. A later shot of the business card Anderson is handed also erroneously lists the address for Labatt’s head office as being in Montreal, Ontario.

Unfortunately for eagle-eyed CFL fans, while the game depicted is real, the players shown on the field are all fictional. The show features two catches from a Lions’ receiver wearing No. 8 with the last name Frisch, who did not exist.

The real game — which marked the return of Edmonton defensive coordinator Don Matthews to BC Place after having been unceremoniously fired by the Lions and was the first for B.C. general manager Joe Galat on the sideline after the dismissal of Larry Donovan — was a low point for the Vancouver club.

B.C. was run over by Edmonton to the tune of 33-13 as the Lions suffered their fifth straight loss to open the 1989 season, at that time it was the fourth worst start to a year in franchise history. As local legend states, the Lions’ performance was so bad that fans demanded that Anderson be put back on the video screen rather than the game play.

B.C. quarterback Matt Dunigan, who would finish the season as the league’s leading passer, was held to 11-of-23 passing for 158 yards and one interception in the end zone while being — in the words of Vancouver Sun sportswriter Gary Kingston — “harassed more often than a Vancouver hooker during a police crackdown.” Jan Carinci had the home team’s only touchdown catch from backup Rickey Foggie in a field goal-heavy affair.

Tracy Ham and Rick Worman split quarterbacking duties for Edmonton, while fullback Blake Marshall scored two touchdowns and receiver Tom Richards hauled in the other. Import defensive back Enis Jackson was credited with the play of day by blocking a Lui Passaglia punt to begin a 20-point swing in favour of the visitors.

The Lions would go on to finish the year 7-11, missing the playoffs. Edmonton finished first in the West with a 16-2 record, but lost in the West Final to Saskatchewan.

Pam & Tommy is available on Hulu in the US and can be streamed on Disney+ in Canada.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.