Did The Thing About Pam Give That Character A Happy Ending? The Star Has Thoughts

The Thing About Pam Mariah Gideon Adlon reading letter
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 5 of The Thing About Pam, called “She’s Not Who You Think She Is.”

Only one episode of The Thing About Pam is left before the limited series comes to an end, and “She’s Not Who You Think She Is” set the stage for what could be a thrilling finale. Although Pam ultimately came out on top in the civil suit brought by Mariah and Lily, her world is starting to crumble around her, and she may take figures like Leah Askey down with her. For her part, Mariah made a big decision about her future, and actress Gideon Adlon shared her thoughts on whether or not it was a happy ending for her character. 

Most of “She’s Not Who You Think She Is” was rough for Mariah. She and her sister lost their civil suit, she seemingly received a letter from Russ that was – to say the very least – harsh about her decision to testify against him, and she was forced to wait on Renée Zellweger’s Pam at the restaurant where she worked. After she ultimately figured out that Pam wrote the letter just to torture her even more, Mariah was just “done” with everything and felt like she won because there was nothing left for Pam to take from her. 

As a result, Mariah was ready to leave Missouri and head west to California. On the one hand, she got away from the toxicity of Pam’s influence, but on the other hand, she left because she had nothing left to lose, and she doesn’t have closure about her mom’s murder at this point. So, when I spoke with Gideon Adlon for CinemaBlend, she weighed in on whether she sees this as a happy ending for Mariah:

I just think it's Mariah taking a stand for what she needed at that time, for her mental health, and just a new environment and the change in some way. You know, I would probably do the same. I think a lot of people would. She needed to get away. It happened when she was 17, and she was living in that world for so long. I just think with everything that happened, and how all the court cases went and the losses that she's felt and dealt with, she needed somewhere new, somewhere fresh. So yeah, I think it's a happy ending, in terms of her doing something good for herself in that moment.

The Thing About Pam may be based on a true story, but – as the beginning of every episode reminds viewers – dates, events, and characters have been changed for dramatic purposes. Gideon Adlon also shared how the show has allowed her to build a “secret relationship” with the audience in her version of Mariah, and after this character spent five episodes (which you can stream with a Peacock subscription) experiencing loss after loss, a fresh start can qualify as a happy ending. 

Even though Mariah left a lot behind, she can build a new life in California. Of course, that’s not necessarily to say that this was the last that viewers will see of Mariah’s story. When asked if leaving Missouri to start over was the end of her plot on The Thing About Pam, Adlon previewed:

I wouldn't say the end. There's definitely more of a button to it. But for now, yeah, I think that that's the last time you really see Mariah, when she makes that decision. And then there's something else.

Fans will have to wait until the finale next week to find out if Mariah appears again after deciding to leave for California in “She’s Not Who You Think She Is.” Glenn Fleshler – who opened up about a “very absurd day” of filming with Renée Zellweger – still appeared in the show after Russ was exonerated and that part of the story was fully told, but the show is also nearly at its conclusion. If the narration over the first five episodes is any indication, then Pam’s downfall is undoubtedly on the way. 

And I think it’s safe to say that viewers will be rooting for that downfall more than ever after Pam tormented Mariah at the restaurant after winning the civil suit. It was an intense scene between the two characters, with Zellweger still sporting her prosthetic body suit. Gideon Adlon shared what it was like to perform that scene with the Academy Award-winner:

Renée is so great. You know what she needs in a scene, and then she also knows what you need in a scene and she's just a team player. And she's a real real artist. I think we all just kind of went at it, how we prepared. And then through doing it over and over again, you just kind of naturally got into this flow of what each person needed.

Only one episode is left before the scripted version of the story of Pam Hupp comes to an end with this limited series, so be sure to tune in to NBC on Tuesday, April 12 at 10 p.m. ET to catch the finale of The Thing About Pam. Following the finale, New Amsterdam will return to the Tuesday night time slot in the 2022 TV schedule with new episodes of Season 4.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).