Ranking the Party Down Seasons

It has been told to death, but it is genuinely wild that a television show from the late 2000s which had only tens of thousands watch its series finale was resurrected over a decade later to do a very belated third season. But I suppose that is kind of fitting for such an offbeat and lowkey sitcom that somehow managed to always have an insanely talented cast that always made it a pure joy to watch.

Make sure you check out our previous Party Down coverage:
Jerome and Kevin Present – Cancelled Too Soon: Party Down


3. Season 2: No Fun Expected

While on the surface, this season’s big change was Jane Lynch/Jennifer Coolidge being replaced by Megan Mullally, there was a more substantive change to the core dynamic of the show. Adam Scott replaced Ken Marino as the team leader. Now, on one hand, it was not as a funny because Marino being a hapless boss is the show’s best situation. But it did make for a satisfying arc. Adam Scott had to regress a bit in terms of his own personal ambitions. And getting that low allowed him to reach a place where he was willing to try acting one last time at the end. It was a fine note to end the original note on. It just did not lead to quite the comedic heights of the first season.


2. Season 3: A Dozen Years Later

Like so many “hip” shows from this century, Party Down got its very own “streaming era” reboot. I could not help compare this sitcom rebirth to one of the most infamous ones, Arrested Development. The six episode structure worked really well. The show did not overstay its welcome. It did not pretend that no time had passed for no discernible reason. In fact, they used the extreme time gap between the the seasons to enhance the stories and characterizations. While the show made sure to tell stories and continue the development of the characters, the priorities were always jokes and gags over anything else (except for the curiously contemplative finale). Against all odds, Party Down returned thirteen years after cancellation to make another good season of television.


1. Season 1: Are We Having Fun Yet?

While yes, there is no doubt that this season of television was incredibly fucking funny, what stood out the most to me rewatching it all these years later was the Martin Starr character, Roman DeBeers. When I watched this show when it aired (I was in college), this character seemed like something wildly different than anything I had ever seen before. You see, Martin Starr was playing the prototypical incel before that term became popularized. In fact, his character on this show was my first exposure to the idea being a “smart, antisocial nerd” could be a sign of something deeply wrong with you and not necessarily a signal that you are a tragically misunderstood genius. While there are limits to the appeal of himbos like Ryan Hansen, there is a real danger to people like Martin Starr that this show really profoundly captured in a way that few other places were doing at this point in time. But yes, anyway, this season was fucking hilarious.

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