‘Party Down’ reviews: Emmy-forgotten comedy is still the most underrated and ‘laugh-out-loud’ show on TV

After a 13-year hiatus, the third season of “Party Down” premiered on Starz last month, proving it’s still the most underrated laugh riot on TV. The series boasts an all-star cast including Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge and Megan Mullally, working as caterers whose hopes at Hollywood superstardom have been dashed

With a stellar rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics’ consensus reads, “Returning after a long layoff, Party Down brings patient fans a third season that’s every bit as sharp — and laugh-out-loud funny — as its predecessors.” Ignored by major awards shows for its first two cycles, the comedy created by John Enbom, Dan Etheridge, Paul Rudd and Rob Thomas won the AFI TV Program of the Year Award in 2010, where they called it “wickedly funny” and “television’s best-kept secret.” Read our review roundup for Season 3 below.

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Rendy Jones of RogerEbert.com notes that “The short-lived Starz original comedy series from creators John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, and Paul Rudd about out-of-work Hollywood professionals operating as pink bowtie-wearing party caterers working various events across LA brought an original and raunchy angle to the workplace comedy formula in 2009.” In 2023, the series is just as fun. The cast is praised as “Co-creator and showrunner John Enbom and his writers take full advantage of the surrealness of the current American landscape involving post-pandemic economic issues, cancel culture, and nationalist groups, and organically integrate them into the scene in ‘Party Down”s endlessly unpredictable fashion.” Jennifer Garner proves to be a welcome addition to the cast, sharing great chemistry with Scott. Jones concludes, “Answering the question of the in-show catchphrase, ‘Are we having fun yet?’ with ‘Yes, we are,’ the belated 12-year hiatus of ‘Party Down’ was well worth the wait.”

Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly praises the series and its cast. “More than a decade after the season 2 finale, doofus actor-model Kyle (Ryan Hansen) hires his former boss Ron (Ken Marino) to throw a celebration of his new Hollywood success, and invites old coworkers like Henry (Adam Scott), Constance (Jane Lynch), and Lydia (Megan Mullaly). Dour writer Roman (Martin Starr) still works for Ron, and other characters soon make their way back to the catering-catastrophe world.” Having an equally fun experience are the guest stars. “James Marsden has a blast as a big-time actor whose surprise birthday goes awry. Nick Offerman confirms himself as a guest-star ninja in a smirky-weirdo role that requires multiple (solid!) Hitler jokes.” Franich closes saying, “The new ‘Party Down’ is a bit too glossy, but it succeeds as a genial get-together for great comedy talents.”

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Fred Topel of United Press International also notes that it has been thirteen years since the second season was aired and it feels like no time has passed. “Each episode features a different party that Party Down caters, but the main cast’s stories continue from episode to episode. Henry meets producer Evie (Jennifer Garner) at one Hollywood party, and they keep in touch. Garner has a lot to do in subsequent episodes.” Topel concludes, “No matter when Party Down is set, people will always be on the sidelines of Hollywood, working catering as a day job. Party Down Season 3 meets the moment of 2023 with hilarious and insightful observations about the last 13 years.”

Josh Spiegel of Slashfilm begins by stating, “Revivals of older TV shows are impossible for studios to resist, and almost as impossible to pull off successfully. The amount of time passed makes it hard not to focus directly on how characters and their performers have grown or aged. Moreover, the original shows often end appropriately with respect to their context and setting. So reviving these shows ends up invoking an unintentional sense of sadness; the closed book is reopened instead of just leaving well enough alone. In short, some shows are best left un-revived because bringing them back makes them feel undead in a way, like zombies who should have stayed in the grave.” In this case though, it is a welcome return for a series that fits right in with the current television landscape. “Those who may be more familiar with Adam Scott through his recent starring role on the Apple TV+ series ‘Severance’ will be unsurprised by the intense emotional depths he’s able to plumb in certain scenes of this mostly raucous comedy.” Spiegel concludes, “And most important of all, ‘Party Down’ is still riotously funny, sharp, and savvy about its world and its characters. Welcome back.”

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