'Party Down' ... I Wouldn't Dream of Doing Anything Else
by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Jul 9th 2010 6:30PM
"When I die, I want you to have a huge party and remember all the good times we had. No wake. No funeral. Just stuff me in the high-five position, set me in the corner and put on my Hot Summer Jams 2000 mix until the cops come!"
Everyone has said that -- or something like that -- at some point in their life, but how many times does it actually happen? Never ... until now.
It's a little more difficult to push through the pain with 'Party Down,' however, since it was unceremoniously snuffed out by Starz before it even got the chance to take its first uneasy steps across the living room. It's as if Starz were the demanding parents who said, "Listen 'Party Down,' you're two years old. You should at least be reading at a sixth grade level, if not holding a full time job. What is wrong with you? We're sending you to live with your uncle, 'Arrested Development' ... in heaven."
The pain comes from never knowing how good 'Party Down' could have been if given a few more seasons to potty train, but at the same time, we don't know how awful it could have gotten, either -- eating glue and beating up fat kids. That's where the party starts.
It's my opinion that we should be getting our collective freaks on now that 'Party Down' is canceled, and it has everything to do with how you see the world. I'm a "glass half full" guy (and it's half-full of Orangina), so I choose to see the cancellation as arguably the best thing that could have happened to 'Party Down.' In this scenario, it will never go the way of 'The Office' or 'Friends' or virtually every other American sitcom that garnered a modicum of success only to deteriorate into a shark-jumping fiasco of weddings, babies, and ideas that were seemingly pulled from the diaries of semi-retarded middle schoolers. "What if Chandler marries Monica?! OMG! Soooooo, cute!"
And this is in no way a knock on 'The Office' or 'Friends' (maybe a little). I love both of those shows, but it became like watching my old incontinent dog, struggling around the yard indiscriminately defecating, when I should have put him down back when he could still lick himself like a champ.
While we're partying, there will be mourners lamenting the fact that "Party Down' didn't get the necessary time that comedies need to get momentum and an audience. But I think if those mourners really looked at the two seasons the show did finish, they would see that 'Party Down' had its creative legs from the get go, which makes the inevitable plunge into mediocrity that much more certain. The show was smart, topical, consistently funny with an edge that you don't often see in a half hour comedy, not on HBO. Most sitcoms eventually suffer from "what do we do now" syndrome after that second or third season, and there's nothing worse than a television show that has no idea where it's going.
Take a show like '30 Rock.' That show came out of the gate like a ball of fire, with wings, and razor sharp talons ... so, like some sort of fire bird. Not the car, but an actual bird with a fire body. By it's fourth season it had already gotten away from the fresh, off-beat aesthetic that made it so good, and was all of a sudden as formulaic and canned as 'Two and a Half Men,' and it will go on that way until the last dime has been bled out of it. That's not something to celebrate.
Better to celebrate a show like 'Party Down' that never hit a lull, never pandered to its audience, never compromised itself, and always brought it strong! R.I.P. 'Party Down!' You're in a better place now. *pours one out for his homies*
Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he is a lot faster than he looks! You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981