Everything is subjective except the following: Party Down was the best show. Either you agree, or you haven’t watched it yet. The comedy series—created by Austin TV writer Rob Thomas with a group of his pals—followed a group of Hollywood strivers, has-beens, and never-weres who paid their bills by working for a catering company. The show never quite found its audience when it aired on Starz for two seasons in 2009 and 2010. Since then, though, Party Down has lived in the cult canon. Its cast is a who’s who of familiar faces who went on to star in more successful series on less niche networks: Jane Lynch left after season one for Glee, while Adam Scott’s departure for the stability of a network show on NBC’s Parks and Recreation ensured the end of Party Down. Ken Marino, Martin Starr, Lizzie Caplan, Ryan Hansen, and Megan Mullally rounded out the main cast, while future stars including J.K. Simmons, Kevin Hart, and Ken Jeong enjoyed prominent guest roles. In all, the series consisted of two seasons of ten thirty-minute episodes, each one of them a stunning, self-contained masterpiece that fed into the larger arc of the series. And then it was over.
As of Thursday, though, it isn’t. Starz announced a six-episode order for a revival of the beloved show, helmed by Thomas and the other original creators. In a statement, Thomas acknowledged that bringing the cast back together won’t be easy, given how in-demand many of its members are, but that they’d find a way. “At the end of 2019, the Party Down cast and producers were all reunited at a retrospective for the show hosted by Vulture. We had such a good time that we wanted to find a way to get the team back together again,” he said. “The cast is so busy these days that finding a window where we can do it may require trigonometry, but we’re determined to make it happen.”
New episodes of Party Down, filmed more than a decade after the show’s end, will be a true gift. The conceit of the show—that the core cast members are caterers, hired to work one-off gigs—gave the series a unique structure. The plot of each episode was built around whatever was happening at the event the team was catering—whether it was a meeting of young Republicans, a corporate retreat, the after-party for a heavy metal concert, or a hot college quarterback’s NFL draft party—and the joy of the series is watching the characters we know interact in each strange new environment they find themselves in. The frame is endlessly flexible (one episode is a murder mystery! another is classic farce!), leaving plenty of room for guest stars, and a tidy resolution to whatever situation the episode introduces. While the characters continue to follow their dreams and regret their failures from installment to installment, by the next episode they’re working another party with its own set of conflicts and dramas.
That means returning to the Party Down universe should be less of a stretch than most other years-later revivals. Mostly, we’d expect that the cast is just a decade older, and wherever that decade of continuing to pursue their Hollywood dreams took them, it also brought most of them, in the end, back once more to mixing drinks and slinging hors d’oeuvres. The show’s balance of comedy—when it’s at its best, which it often was, the jokes-per-minute ratio on Party Down is hard to top—and tragedy is the sort of thing that more years can only amplify. Who isn’t ready to see an old New Ron?
A lot of well-loved series have gotten years-late (or decades-late) revivals recently. It makes sense: studios prefer the built-in audience of existing intellectual properties, everyone is obsessed with nostalgia, and the characters making their return often do have some life left in them. The best revivals—Twin Peaks: The Return, or Thomas’s Veronica Mars—are critical and fan darlings, while the worst sometimes collapse under the weight of all those years’ worth of expectations (alas, Arrested Development). Given Thomas’s track record, including with 2019’s fourth season of Veronica Mars, and Party Down‘s nimble premise, this revival seems like like a lighter lift than others. The series never truly concluded—it ended on a cliffhanger that fans seeking resolution have had to “retcon” into open-ended optimism—which means that there’s a lot of story left to pick up, and everyone in the cast is still extremely funny. This should work!
We’ll avoid prescribing what we’d like to see in the next six episodes of Party Down, since at least half the fun is that each episode can take the team anywhere it would make sense for someone to be serving food—which is to say, pretty much anywhere—and keep our enthusiasm for seeing what became of Kyle’s acting ambitions, Roman’s quest for glory in the realm of hard sci-fi, Ron’s imagined future in the restaurant business, or the ill-timed romance between Henry and Casey. Party Down raised plenty of questions that we never expected to get answers to, and the possibility that we will is tantalizing. Finally, fans can learn what happened in Henry’s final audition—and potentially find the answer to the series’s most important question of all, and one that’s only grown louder in its absence: Are we having fun yet?