If you watched “Party Down,” the short-lived Starz series which ran from 2009-2010, then you’ve spent the last four years fondly remembering the hilarious adventures of Los Angeles’ most tragic catering company.
If you never saw the show when it first aired or during its brief stint on Netflix Instant, then you are in for a treat. Hulu is now streaming the first five episodes of the series for free for a limited time, with the rest of the series available forever (hopefully) to Hulu Plus subscribers. So if you have Labor Day weekend plans, cancel them. Why? Just a few of the reasons are below.
It stars one of the greatest comedy ensembles of the 21st century.
Well, the 21st century is young so far. But there is no weak link in the cast that was assembled for “Party Down.” No. Weak. Link. How can you tell? Just look at how many of the show’s alumni are now anchoring other series: Adam Scott on “Parks and Recreation,” Jane Lynch on “Glee,” Lizzy Caplan on “Masters of Sex,” Ken Marino on “Marry Me”… Even cast members Ryan Hansen and Martin Starr, while still looking to hit upon starring roles, have both worked steadily since “Party Down” in film and TV, often as the standout members of their casts.
The “Party Down” guest stars are even better.
By calling on friends and friends of friends, the show’s creators — “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas, John Enbom, Dan Etheridge and Paul Rudd (who starred in the original pilot before dropping out due to film projects) — brought in a stunning repertoire of clients for the titular catering company. The balance, especially in the first season, swings towards “Veronica Mars” alumni like Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni and Steve Guttenberg. But there are past, present and future superstars on display, including Josh Gad, Ken Jeong, Steven Weber, J.K. Simmons, Joe Lo Truglio, Thomas Lennon, Paul Scheer, Rob Corddry, George Takei, Matt Walsh, Kevin Hart and Nat Faxon.
It’s a wonderful reminder of how great comedians love to collaborate.
Look at the guest stars above, and how many of them had already worked with the “Party Down” team before coming onto the series. It’s a reaffirmation of a current truth about the comedy world (one we recently learned from the creators of “The Hotwives of Orlando”): Funny people like to keep working with funny people.
Everyone wears pink bow-ties
There’s something about a uniform that offers the potential for profoundly funny humiliation. The white button-downs and slacks demanded by Party Down Catering are already awkward; the bow-ties are the (pink) icing on the cake.
Steve Guttenberg plays himself.
Not everyone may be excited about the second season episode “Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday.” But if you’re a connoisseur of quality “Cocoon” jokes, you are in luck.
It’s the rare example of a truly adult TV comedy.
Do you like your great television sitcoms with copious amounts of drug use, profanity and boobies? You’re in luck! Thanks to its home on Starz (a network which first really brought in viewers with the very very naked gladiators of “Spartacus”), “Party Down” had basically no restrictions on its content.
However, it never pushed to the level of “grossly gratuitous” (well, except for maybe the episode where they cater an adult video awards show) — instead, it uses that freedom to depict the realities of these characters in a raw, truthful fashion.
It’s one of the best-ever depictions of the modern-day struggling artist.
The employees of Party Down Catering are not working their dream jobs; for the most part they’re aspiring actors, comedians and writers looking to pay the bills. But there’s diversity to their struggles: Though Henry (Scott), at the beginning of the series, has given up entirely after one beer commercial killed his acting career, heartthrob-to-be Kyle (Hansen) might only need the right role to escape ABC Family guest-star slots. Meanwhile, moody Roman (Starr) just wants someone to take his take on “hard sci-fi” seriously, and Casey (Kaplan) just needs to make the right person laugh.
Constance is perhaps the most heartbreaking — despite having spent decades scrambling for tiny supporting TV roles, she’s refused to give up on finding success as an actor. It’s ironic that Jane Lynch left the show after eight episodes because she was about to become a superstar thanks to “Glee.” Because, the fact is, there are thousands of Constances living in Los Angeles and New York, sacrificing potential happiness to gamble on talent and luck coincides for them, someday.
What’s sadder, giving up on a dream or refusing to do so, even when the odds are incredibly against you? That’s the abyss “Party Down” constantly stared into, week after week, and that’s what gave it resonance beyond the dick jokes, years after it left the air.