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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

Party Down – “Constance Carmell Wedding”

Oh, I don’t know that I can be replaced.”

Constance’s line to Lydia, quoted above, kind of sums up all my feelings about Party Down as it finishes its second (and maybe (somewhat hopefully) last?) season. Lydia never found a groove with the rest of the characters, and the season never seemed to find its groove either. After the first couple of episodes of re-establishing Henry and Casey tension, and then committing to the relationship, everything kind of went adrift after that.

The season ultimately just struggled to be terrific (as season 1 is), with episodes that had moments or episodes that were those moments (thinking, of course, of The Gutte). And with this finale, it has all the air of a series finale and not a season finale.First, what a pleasure to have the ever-confident, occasionally oblivious, non-stop talker that is Constance Carmell back in the fold. Having the character hanging around everyone was a sublime little treat, and that the writers and Lynch hadn’t forgotten how to make all her mannerisms and tics and work made her presence that much more pleasing (I was worried that the character might not be the same).

And Constance’s presence also reminded me about how utterly useless and dull Lydia has been written. Most of the characters have a fairly one track mind, and those tracks (get a new gig; look down on everyone; advance in the company; be pretty; drift through life) always haunted their actions at events, but never dominated them. Lydia’s desire for a husband on the other hand, throwing herself at male guest after male guest, came off as kind of sad, and never all that funny. There was never a variation on the joke (like with Roman’s superiority complex), and it instead just kept falling flat.

More simply put: by having Constance back, it made me miss the character that much more, and reminded me that much of season 1’s greatness. And this sense of reminding me how much I certain characters has me leaning to wanting the show not to come back for a third season. Most of its cast has new shows under consideration for the fall, if not already¬†committed to them, and I don’t know if I’d be willing to watch Roman (and probably Ron) try and connect with a slew of new folks. They’d have to be pretty terrific (and different) from the rest of the cast to fill it out properly.

And since the season ends with a wedding and a death, it almost seems fitting to let the show end here. Weddings are how comedies end and death is how tragedies end. Party Down has always been both of those things: the comedy is that these people think they’re in a tragedy, but they’re doing okay for themselves. It’s where the humor from the show has come from, and ending here, at least from a genre perspective, makes sense to me.

But narratively, it makes sense to end here as well. Henry’s journey through fame (“Are we having fun yet?”) to not even being remembered for it this season to finally deciding to audition has been the core of the show, and now that he’s decided to really shoot for the stars again, it almost seems silly to revisit the premise for a third season. Whatever character would constitute the emotional core of the show would have to be different enough from Henry to not feel like a pointless¬†retread, but still have that same restlessness that Adam Scott brought to that position in the series.

So if this is the actual final season for Party Down, I think I could be pretty happy. If it’s not the actual final season for Party Down, then the third season may have to be something very great for me to not to engage in some dis continuity.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • How awesome was that Patrick Duffy cameo? Answer: Only slightly less awesome than Constance’s nickname for him: Duffles. Brilliance.
  • Another sign of how Lydia didn’t work: her cocaine trip was kind of overplayed by Mullally. Martin Starr doing a high as a paper kite Roman on the other hand was very funny: “The serpent is me!”
  • “Scott Yutzel’s Monday Bar-Mitzvah” sounded really promising, though. And I like the look of a very sloth-like Mondo.
  • As a final note: I really don’t think, given how happy Starz has been with Spartacus: Blood and Sand and their decision to co-produce Torchwood, that Party Down will fit in the sex(y) and glossy style the network is clearing aiming for now.


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