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December 22, 2014

Tardy to the 'Party'? Get Acquainted With 'Party Down'

by Chris Harnick, posted Apr 19th 2010 4:30PM
Party Down

Chances are, you've never seen 'Party Down' (Fri., April 23 at 10PM ET on Starz), the little show that has gotten a lot of buzz. You've probably heard of the comedy show about struggling Hollywood-types getting by as caterers. Maybe you've seen the bus shelter poster of it.

You probably also don't know that the Starz comedy is one of the most witty shows on television. It's topped many "best of" lists -- it was named one of the 10 best shows of 2009 by The American Film Institute -- and attracted tons of Hollywood talent from Megan Mullally to Steve Guttenberg. So, what makes 'Party Down' so special and how does it keep attracting movie and TV stars? Let's break it down.

WHAT
It's a show about a group of people chasing their Hollywood dream -- they also happen to be working as caterers to get by. It's a workplace comedy where the workplace changes every week. One day the gang from Party Down Catering will be working a funeral and the next day it could be a child's birthday party. Each week it's a different party and different guest stars.

More after the jump.
Party Down
Chances are, you've never seen 'Party Down' (Fri., April 23 at 10PM ET on Starz), the little show that has gotten a lot of buzz. Maybe you've heard of the comedy show about struggling Hollywood-types getting by as caterers. Possibly, you've seen the bus shelter poster of it.

You probably also don't know that the Starz comedy is one of the most witty shows on television. It's topped many "best of" lists -- it was named one of the 10 best shows of 2009 by The American Film Institute -- and attracted tons of Hollywood talent from Megan Mullally to Steve Guttenberg. So, what makes 'Party Down' so special and how does it keep attracting movie and TV stars? Let's break it down.

WHAT
It's a show about a group of people chasing their Hollywood dream -- they also happen to be working as caterers to get by. It's a workplace comedy where the workplace changes every week. One day the gang from Party Down Catering will be working a funeral and the next day it could be a child's birthday party. Each week it's a different party and different guest stars.

Party DownRob Thomas, the mastermind behind the cult-hit TV show 'Veronica Mars,' who also co-created 'Party Down,' said he pitches the darker side of the show to get people interested.

"I say it's 'Taxi' if you got to swear and be a little bit less likable," Thomas said in an interview with AOL TV.

However, when Thomas is pitching the show to friends, he said he goes a different route, telling them that 'Party Down' is different from his other shows because he's not writing to please America, he's writing to please his immediate circle of friends. That circle of friends happens to be some pretty talented actors.

"It allows you to be more specific with the comedy and we can be as misanthropic as we want on Starz," he said.

WHO
Henry (Adam Scott), Ron (Ken Marino), Casey (Lizzy Caplan), Roman (Martin Starr), Kyle (Ryan Hansen) and Lydia (Megan Mullally) are chasing one dream or another. 'Party Down' gives audiences charmingly depressing characters. These characters are like people you probably have met, and that's why the show has received rave critical approval: it's real.

Megan Mullally"It's really funny," Mullally said in video interview Starz. "I was really excited when they offered me a part on it this season."

'Glee'
star Jane Lynch appeared in eight of the 10 episodes of season 1 before she was called back to film more episodes of the Fox hit musical series. She played Constance, an aging actress who was filled with naive optimism and when she left, producers needed to fill the void with an equally energetic character.

"We had come up with the idea of the Lydia character and we had heard over the course of the year that Megan was a fan of the show and that she was interested in doing a guest star role," Thomas said. "We thought that'd be great, we'll definitely find something for her to do. Then we came up with this idea of a single mom, post-divorce with a teenage daughter and we sort of said, 'I wonder if Megan would do all of them?'"

Lynch returns for the finale episode and told Starz in a video interview that she missed the cast.

"Our ensemble was such a happy accident of loveliness," Lynch said.

Through co-creators Thomas, Paul Rudd (Yes, the movie star), Dan Etheridge and John Enbom, as well as director Fred Savage (Yes, the 'Wonder Years' star), the show has attracted a bevy of guest stars from Kristen Bell and Christopher Mintz-Plasse to Jennifer Coolidge and J.K. Simmons.

Kristen Bell Party DownWHY
'Party Down' is really unlike any other comedy out there. It's not your typical sitcom like 'The Middle,' nor does it fit the quirky non-sitcom comedy like '30 Rock.' It's charmingly dark, but at the same time optimistic. You can't help but feel the struggle these characters are going through, but at the same time delight in their hardships. It's not slapstick, it's just plain smart and witty.

"It's just like coming and screwing around with your friends," Adam Scott told Starz. "Doing 'Party Down' is my favorite thing to do."

If you're not sold on that, 'Party Down' is worth checking out just to see your favorite actors cut loose and really have fun in a role. Yes, even Kristen Bell hurls some curse words around as the leader of a rival catering company.

WAIT, WHAT?
'Party Down' only retains actors in year-to-year contracts, so there was a cast shuffle from season 1 to season 2. If the show returns for a third season, it might look completely different.

When Jane Lynch filmed 'Party Down,' she was already committed to 'Glee' if it got picked up. We all know 'Glee' got picked up -- and then some.

Jane LynchLook for Adam Scott to pop up in two episodes of 'Parks and Recreation' this season and join the show as a series regular next season. Variety reported that the actor could make a handful of appearances in a possible third season of 'Party Down,' but not as a series regular.

Lizzy Caplan snagged a role in the pilot for CBS' 'True Love.' The show centers around a group of young New Yorkers looking for love. The Hollywood Reporter said Caplan is credited as a guest star, but that may change if the series is picked up.

Caplan isn't the only 'Party Down' cast member looking for love in a new role. Ryan Hansen was cast in an NBC pilot called 'Friends With Benefits.' According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hansen plays Ben, the leader of a pack of twentysomethings who have friends with benefits while searching for true love.

WHEN/WHERE/HOW
'Party Down' season 2 premieres Fri., April 23, 10PM on Starz. Thomas said the series will also be available on Starz Play and Starz Play content in Netflix's instant stream feature.

Tell us: Are you ready to 'Party Down' this Friday?

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