the cast of Party Down

Starz

‘Party Down’ passes the revival test 

With hindsight, it’s easier to see how ahead of the curve ‘Party Down’ really was.

 

Audra Schroeder

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Analysis

Party Down’s new season arrives just as rebootfatigue has led to an actual comedy series about a TV reboot being canceled at Hulu. But after a 13-year absence, Party Down doesn’t feel like the forced reunion fans might have been anticipating. 

Season 3, which debuted on Starz last week, drags the show into the present: Kyle (Ryan Hansen) is now an action star, and has hired the Los Angeles-based cater-waiter company he used to work for—​​Party Down—to work the premiere of his film Nitromancer

The company is still owned by emotional wreck Ron (The Other Two’s Ken Marino), and sci-fi misanthrope Roman (Martin Starr) is still toiling away. But thankfully, there are younger employees to signify that time has moved on, like Tyrel Jackson Williams and Zoë Chao, as well as more well-known players like Jennifer Garner (a producer on season 3) and James Marsden

One glaring season 3 absence is Lizzy Caplan’s Casey, as Caplan was apparently already working on FX’s Fleishman Is In Trouble, though she’s referenced in episode 1 as having landed a job on SNL. And then there’s her former love interest, failed actor Henry (Adam Scott), who’s now a teacher. His long running gag of being recognized as the guy who said “Are we having fun yet?” in a beer commercial hits a little differently in season 3, which has to be a little sadder and more jaded to work. (The fact that Henry has to go back to catering to supplement a teacher’s income is relatable, but you do miss his banter with Caplan.)  

Party Down was always a satire of Hollywood—struggling actors literally serving the people whose power and approval they need, with diminishing returns. With hindsight, it’s easier to see how ahead of the curve Party Down really was. Now, the show is a satire of Hollywood event-planning during COVID-19, and the kinds of gatherings that are now common enough to need catering. (Like a group of neo-Nazis.) It’s also a way to illustrate how big all the stars of Party Down became in the last 10 years. (Paul Rudd is one of the show’s original creators.)

Producer Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) told the Hollywood Reporter that Party Down’s initial cancellation after two seasons happened when Starz got a new president, who pivoted to bloodier dramas. Also, its viewership numbers were bad. While some of the jokes in season 3 don’t land quite as hard as they did in 2009/10, and there’s a little less comedic energy between characters, Party Down might be the one recent reboot that benefitted from time away.     

Why it matters 

Party Down being available on streaming (currently Hulu) over the last 10 years was crucial, and swept up a new audience that it didn’t have on Starz. 

Audra Schroeder

Audra Schroeder was a senior entertainment writer at the Daily Dot, focusing on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice.

 
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