Party Down is yet another brilliant comedy series you’ve never heard of. It has excellent writing and acting that feels improvisational, like a Christopher Guest film or Curb Your Enthusiasm, even though it’s 90% scripted.1 The comedic setup and payoff is intricate ala Arrested Development. And it has the realistic bittersweetness (more bitter than sweet) of the original (British) The Office.
The cast comes from other cult hits, mostly Veronica Mars and The State, plus a few Judd Apatow and Christopher Guest veterans. Standouts include Jane Lynch (40 Year Old Virgin, Role Models, Best in Show), Ken Marino (The State, Reaper, Veronica Mars), Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up, Adventureland), Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls, True Blood) and a slew of guest stars.
It had critical acclaim and a cult following – a cult which I have just joined – and like clockwork it was canceled after just two 10-episode seasons. I guess that’s what happens when you air at 10PM on a Friday night on Starz, when Starz wasn’t known for any original programming.2 As a consolation, you can watch the entire series on Netflix streaming, and I highly recommend you do so. If you’re as excited about the series as I am, when you’re finished watching it you’ll enjoy reading The Complete Oral History of Party Down.
Here’s a trailer to whet your appetite, although it doesn’t quite do the show justice.