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April 23, 2014

'Party Down' ... I Wouldn't Dream of Doing Anything Else

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Jul 9th 2010 6:30PM
Party Down
"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

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Sweeney

"Don't Stop Believing."
-Journey (via Ron Donald).

July 19 2010 at 9:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ali G

I was hoping another network would maybe pick it up or something, but you're right about the whole 'network tampering' thing, and to quote the late Kurt Cobain, I'd rather see it "burn out than fade away" ... and, "Is this thing loaded?"

July 11 2010 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ali G's comment
Rion

Although you picked a great quote, I want to direct you to Neil Young's "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)." Not only is it the original source of the quote, but it is also an amazing song. Or if you are in a more rock n' roll mood, check out the similarly titled, and lyrically complementary, "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"

This has been your Neil Young Public Service Announcement

July 11 2010 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
robert

The promoting of these show's, so does Sunzet Daze who is aired in a schizo fashion on WE every 6 weeks. I stopepd watching and following this crappy broadcasting, to much work chasing after it.
Glad they cancelled it by now.

July 10 2010 at 11:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to robert's comment
Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously)

Another strong point. Fox treated 'Arrested' like a red-headed rented mule. It never had a strong lead-in... or a night of the week when you knew it would be on.

July 10 2010 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jim

I agree with every word - but I would loved to have seen one more season of Arrested Development (or at least a full season three) and/or movie!

July 10 2010 at 9:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jim's comment
Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously)

No doubt. Reducing the 3rd season order from 22 to 13 really hampered AD's ability to round out the story properly. You can feel the haste with which they had to throw everything together at the end.

July 10 2010 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tricia

As upset as I was/am about the show ending, I really think it ended on such a positive note that I almost don't mind. This show will never have an "off season" or an episode that "falls flat," it will be forever perfect in my mind. But I'll still miss it. I still miss Veronica Mars, after all.

July 10 2010 at 4:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tricia's comment
Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously)

If I watch my 'Party Down' DVDs as much as I watch my 'Arrested Development' discs... I won't miss it.

July 10 2010 at 9:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
YouFaceTheTick

I'd rather it went out while it was still good. Unlike many other great shows (Friday Night Lights, Veronica Mars, Arrested Development). Party Down went out when it was definitely very good. I'll take the what if scenario v. the blandness that the Office and 30 Rock have become.

July 10 2010 at 12:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously)

STARZ could have been the new Showtime, adhering to the template HBO laid out. Where was Showtime 5 years ago? I'll tell you where: airing softcore and 'National Lampoon's Dorm Daze.'

July 09 2010 at 11:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Al Beau Sure

If Starz would have done any PR this show could have been big, not once did I see anyone from this show on Leno, Conan, Letterman, Kimmel or Ferguson to talk about this fantastic show! The Writing and Talent... better than all the Network shows!

July 09 2010 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Al Beau Sure's comment
Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously)

Absolutely. Most of the blame falls on the network, but I'm arguing that by ignoring the show, it was allowed to develop on its own terms... that's what made it so good. The network didn't care about it, and as soon as it was canceled, we were spared the nausea of the network tampering with it.

July 09 2010 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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