Rec Room: Party Down

Party Down is the best show nobody’s watching. That is, unless you’re one of the few who routinely watch underdog cable channel Starz, or are an adventurous Netflix Instant Viewer (and oh, you should be—it’s hands-down the best way to swallow up a weekend. Sometimes I pretend I’m bedridden just to assuage the guilt of not moving for five-hour stretches).

Like many things, I got into it thanks to critic Alan Sepinwall’s fantastic blog, “What’s Alan Watching?” and it’s easily one of my all-time favorite comedy series. It’s also probably heading towards cancellation, and you know what? I’m fine with that.

The show follows the on-the-job exploits of a group of misfit Los Angeles cater-waiters. In the series pilot Henry (Adam Scott), a failed actor who almost made it big with a ubiquitous beer commercial, returns to the team and quickly establishes himself as the series’ deadpan protagonist. While most of the other employees are using the gig as a way to pay their bills until they make it big in L.A., Henry is completely disillusioned with the Business, and is just treading water enough to avoid moving into his parents’ garage.

The show’s producers have referred to it in interviews as the anti-Entourage, which is pretty on the nose. The lives of these people are far from glamorous, and unlikely to change anytime soon, but a combination of sharp writing and a brilliant cast make for a show that is alternately crude, offensive, witty, cartoonish, painfully awkward and always, always hilarious. In addition to series regulars including The State’s Ken Marino and Freaks and Geeks’ Martin Starr, Party Down boasts a who’s who of comedic guest stars like Ken Jeong, Thomas Lennon and Jennifer Coolidge.

So why am I not gnashing my teeth over this show’s imminent demise? Because I’d rather see it end near perfectly than drag on until it hardly resembles the series I know and love (see: The Office Season 6). Jane Lynch left after season 1 for Glee (and as much as I love Lynch no matter what she’s doing, she’s better on Glee), Adam Scott is joining Parks and Recreation, and several other cast members have had pilots picked up. Given that it’s on a little-watched pay-cable channel, it’s hard to resent any of them taking on new opportunities. Even if the show stays on with a mostly new cast, it’s hard to imagine it’ll be the same without Scott’s dry wit anchoring the show (not to mention his cute smirk). I doubt I’ll have much interest in a season 3.

Party Down may be the show no one’s watching, but it’s one of the most deserving of viewership. And if I were you, I’d catch up with seasons 1 and 2 via Netflix in time for the finale this Friday at 10pm (on Starz).

Recommended Episodes: Season 1: “Taylor Stiltskin Sweet Sixteen,” “Celebrate Rick Sargulesh”  Season 2: “Nick DiCinto’s Orgy Night,” “Cole Landry’s Draft Day Party”

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