‘Party Down’ review: funnier than ever over a decade later

From left: Tyrel Jackson Williams, Ryan Hansen, Zoë Chao, Martin Starr, Adam Scott and Ken Marino in “Party Down.” Colleen Hayes

Fans of Party down have mourned the loss of the two-season comedy series for years. Created by John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, and Paul Rudd, the show aired on Starz from 2009 to 2010 before being unceremoniously canceled, with vague reasoning from the network. Devotees have watched and re-watched those two seasons, and the quirky, laugh-out-loud vibe has also earned the series a wave of new viewers in the years since. When a six-episode revival was announced, it was greeted with both excitement and skepticism.

Do not be afraid. The third season of Party down is just as funny, if not funnier, as the earlier episodes. The characters, now older but not at all wiser, are true to their original versions. For a viewer, new or long-held, looking at the updated Party down feels like returning to a world that has always been there.

Season three kicks off in early 2020. Ambitious but hapless Ron Donald (a brilliant Ken Marino) still runs Party Down, a Hollywood catering service that employs struggling actors. Roman DeBeers (Martin Starr) is the company’s old employee, but everyone else, including Adam Scott’s Henry Pollard, Megan Mullally’s Lydia Dunfree and Jane Lynch’s Constance Carmell, have moved on. The characters are reunited at a party honoring Kyle Bradway (Ryan Hansen, who should be cast in many more things), now a successful actor. Antics ensue as usual. By the time the second episode begins, it’s post-pandemic and many of the former Party Down employees have returned to their old jobs with Ron.

The success of Party down lies in its format, which places the characters in different company for each episode, and in its frank ridiculousness. The Hollywood in the show is a slightly elevated and exaggerated view of reality, but it aptly punctures everything bizarre about the entertainment industry and its wealthy citizens. The new episodes introduce James Marsden as famed actor Jack Botty and Jennifer Garner as Evie, a movie producer who becomes a love interest for Henry (Lizzy Caplan’s Casey was written out due to scheduling conflicts). But the highlight is Tyrel Jackson Williams playing a content creator named Sackson, who works for Party Down as he grows his TikTok following.

Adam Scott and Jennifer Garner in ‘Party Down’. Colleen Hayes

Each new episode is a delight in itself. The Party Down team, never quite getting together, throws a surprise birthday party, a launch event for what appears to be a group of Nazis, a mock ball, and a Hawaiian luau. Constantly eager to please, Ron goes above and beyond to promote Party Down. Henry, our de facto hero, despite his previous acting successes, is still having no fun. As in the first two seasons, the characters often come face to face with struggle and defeat. When they win, it’s even more fun, and these are people you want to root for.

It has not yet been announced if these six episodes will be a standalone season or if Starz plans to continue Party down, what they should do. The show has a unique tone and voice that could go on season after season The office or It’s always sunny in Philadelphia. The possibilities for the show’s world and characters seem limitless. Not all revivals work – most of them don’t – but this is an example of a revival that not only recreates what made the original seasons so compelling, but expands on it. Give us more.

'Party Down' review: Over a decade later, funnier than ever

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