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Are We Having Fun Yet?

The revival season of ‘Party Down’ is worth watching.

(Tyrel Jackson Williams, Ryan Hansen, Zoë Chao, Martin Starr, Adam Scott, and Ken Marino in 'Party Down' season 4. Image via IMDb.)

It has been 13 years since season two of Party Down aired, and in its revival season the cast today is older, a bit slower, perhaps not as capable of doing the same things they once did. This is a middle-aged Party Down—no longer about a bunch of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings trying to make it in Hollywood. The writers wisely have recognized how the changing of the times and the cast would affect the comedy, and given us, rather than a re-creation, a continuation of the original spirit of Party Down. It still amuses, especially if you’re a fan of the original run.

With the return of Party Down comes most of the original employees of the Party Down catering company. Lead Lizzy Caplan could not return as Casey Klein due to scheduling conflicts. (Though you can, and should, watch Caplan in the recent Fleishman Is in Trouble adaptation on Hulu.) But Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, and Megan Mullally all return, and Season 1 star Jane Lynch even comes back as Constance Carmell after being written out of the show in Season 2.

The years have also added a poignancy to Party Down: Its initial run was about a group of people working a crappy gig until they could achieve their dreams, and Party Down Season 3 is also about what happens to those who don’t wind up doing so. Henry (Scott) is now a divorced high school English teacher. Kyle (Hansen) briefly scored a role in a major superhero movie until getting canceled. Roman (Starr) is still working on the same one sci-fi story idea he’s been working on for 10 years, and Ronald Donald (Marino) is co-owner and manager of the catering company. There are some professional success stories: Casey is gone, having hit it big. Constance Carmell (Lynch) is now a multi-multi-millionaire and an angel investor in the catering company, who just pokes her head in to try to get the crew to engage in meditation or annoy Donald.

How each responds to their new circumstances—contentment, cynicism, blind optimism—adds a new layer to the show. 

Here to inject some more newness into the proceedings are new Party Down crew members Sackson (Tyrel Jackson Williams), a parody of a TikTok content creators, and Lucy (Zoë Chao), an edgy chef. (Her food is a tad too experimental for the catering industry and, indeed, for consumption in general.) In one episode she bakes little balls of wood shavings intended to make consumers question what food actually is. And replacing Casey as the romantic lead alongside Henry Pollard (Scott) is Evie (Jennifer Garner), a successful producer who once turned down Henry for a star-making role in one of her films.

The new additions provide some fun energy, though Chao is underutilized—After Party is a better showcase of her comic chops. Evie and Henry’s relationship is bittersweet, and, one gets the sense, doomed. But there’s enough there to make you hope it works out and want to tune in for another season to make sure it does. Party Down Season 4 hasn’t been announced yet, but there’s enough to justify it. Let’s hope it doesn’t take 12 more years.

Alec Dent is a former culture editor and staff writer for The Dispatch.