Trying to make it in Hollywood is no laughing matter…unless you’re part of Party Down catering, a mostly incompetent motley crew of wannabe actors turned caterers who find themselves in the middle of the most bizarre situations. Like orgies and Ponzi schemes.
Welcome to Party Down, a Starz original that ran for a meager two seasons between 2009-2010. Ask any fan of the show or consult any “cancelled too soon” list the internet can muster and this Ken Marino-led comedy is almost always in the mix. Each episode takes place at a new catering gig, each its own oddball event filled with bougie guests and uncomfortable social scenarios. Naturally, the gang gets in its own way, getting caught up in party drama as they serve shrimp, schmooze with partygoers and constantly try to sabotage each other. The comedic talent is off the charts, with Jane Lynch, Martin Starr and Adam Scott (to name a few) backing up Marino. The jokes are bone dry and the episodes get more off-beat and cringe-worthy as it trots on. It’s one of the best comedies of the last decade, a statement that I feel is more fact than opinion.
If you haven’t RSVP’d to this Party and wonder how you can access Starz content, fear not! You can easily watch Party Down streaming online. Here’s how.
How to Watch Party Down Online & Stream the Complete Series
Hulu is the only streaming service that includes access to both season of Party Down without having to add some type of Starz add-on.
Hulu: If you simply want Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, which includes both seasons of Party Down, you can sign up right here. It costs $7.99 per month for the limited commercials plan or $11.99 per month for the no commercials plan.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want to go from watching Party Down episodes to watching MLB games or other live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
Once signed up for either of the above options, you can watch every episode of Party Down on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
Amazon Prime + Starz Channel
If you have Amazon Prime or want to start a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, you can watch live Starz and all of Starz’s on-demand library through Amazon Channels. The Starz channel, which costs $8.99 per month, also comes with a free trial.
Once signed up for both Prime and the Starz channel, you can watch every Party Down episode either on your computer via the Amazon website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app, which is free to download on Apple TV, Roku, Android phones and tablets, iPads and iPhones, Fire tablets, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Smart TV’s and more. You can also watch on an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV stick without having to download the app.
Another option if you want live TV in addition to being able to watch Party Down episodes on-demand is DirecTV Now
Starz is a $8 per month add-on that can be added to any of DirecTV Now’s four main channel packages. You can add Starz to your existing DirecTV Now account, or if you’re a new subscriber, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial of any base package plus Starz. Additionally, new subscribers can get $25 off your first three months with promo code “YESNOW3”, so if you sign up for the “Live a Little” package and Starz, you would get 60-plus channels, including Starz, for just $18 per month for the first three months.
Once signed up, you can watch every Party Down episode on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
How to Buy & Stream Individual Party Down Episodes & Seasons
If you would rather own the episodes but still want to have a digital library so you can watch on different devices, you can purchase either individual episodes or seasons through Amazon via the following links:
Once you’ve bought an episode or season, you can either watch on your computer via the Amazon website, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app, which is free to download on Apple TV, Roku, Android phones and tablets, iPads and iPhones, Fire tablets, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Smart TV’s and more. You can also watch on an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV stick without having to download the app.
Where to Buy Party Down Seasons on DVD
Another option, if you prefer being able to watch episodes without being reliant on an internet connection, is to buy individual seasons or the entire series on DVD, which you can do via the following links:
NOTE: Spoilers to follow
How Many Party Down Seasons Are There?
There are only two seasons of this gem, with 10 episodes each. You’ll quickly devour these with ease and be left with a sad, insatiable hunger for more. Scott plays failed actor Henry who begrudgingly returns to his old job at Party Down catering where he’s reunited with acquaintances still hustling to make it in the biz. Both seasons deliver A+ performances thanks to its slick writing and meditation/satire on the desperately thirsty life of struggling actors. It’s a show that never falters and always delivers. (Why was this cancelled again?)
Party Down Season 1
10 Episodes | March 2009 – May 2009
When Henry returns to his catering job, he’s reunited with his old boss Ron Donald (Marino), a middle-aged manager who takes his job way too seriously. Ron’s dream is to one day open his own restaurant and he’s already got the name: Soup ‘R Crackers. Ron is a walking punchline who no one respects, including Roman (Starr) and Kyle (Ryan Hansen) who spend their on-the-clock hours both despising and pranking each other. Then there’s Casey (Lizzy Caplan), an actress trying to make it big despite dealing with marital problems. Henry crushes hard on her flippant, no BS attitude and the two start a fling shortly after Casey separates from her husband. Henry spends the season hiding from an old commercial catchphrase (“Are we having fun yet!?”), while Ron gets closer to making Soup R’ Crackers a reality.
Party Down Season 2
10 Episodes | April 2010 – June 2010
When Jane Lynch exited to join Glee, Megan Mullally picked up a serving tray as pint-sized firecracker Lydia, a stage mom trying to make her daughter, Escapade, famous. Ron’s Soup ‘R Cracker venture was a between-season failure, so he returns to Party Down, sadder and drunker than ever, only this time he’s working for Henry. Ron’s sobriety is out the window which leads him to an existential crises and a lot of babysitting for Henry. When Henry steps down as team leader, Ron’s back at it with his list of RDD’s (Ron Donald Donts) which he uses as a demerit system for his staff, who again, make an entire mockery out of Ron’s pathetic sense of authority. Lynch returns for the season finale, which would’ve been great news had it not ended up as the series finale.
What Are the Best Party Down Episodes?
Picking the best Party Down episodes is like choosing my favorite child. If I had children. (Can I use cats in this analogy instead?) Regardless, we’ll try this out anyways.
Here’s a list of the best Party Down episodes:
Season 1, Episode 10: “Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception”
The gang caters a gay wedding reception but a competitor company, Valhalla Catering, shows up and takes lead causing the sober-again Ron (or is he?) to completely fall apart. Uda Bengt (Kristen Bell) takes over the party, doling out reasonable, minor tasks that none of the Party Down staff can handle. Roman struggles with his assignment—pointing to a sign that points to the bathroom. George Takei eats something he’s allergic to and almost dies (surely a broken RDD in there somewhere). After Casey tells Henry that she’s taking a job as a comic on a cruise ship, Uda asks Henry out. The Season 1 finale is a perfect example of how quickly this catering team can ruin a happy event, even one they aren’t in charge of, with sheer ineptitude and a lack of simple direction following.
Season 2, Episode 3: “Nick DiCintio’s Orgy Night”
Reno 911‘s Thomas Lennon guest stars as Nick DiCintio, a guy desperately trying to throw the best orgy around, though none of his guests seem to want to hang out in his “Fuck Room.” Kyle is crushed when his latest movie goes straight to DVD. Lydia shows interest in Nick, though Nick wants nothing to do with the only woman who wants to have sex with him. Lennon shines in this episode and is the perfect complement to this gang of nitwits. His meltdown toward the episode’s end is one to behold.
Season 2, Episode 5: “Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday”
The crew gathers at Steve Guttenberg’s house for an event, though the actor arrives late and tells them they missed it by a day. Despite the mishap, he invites them in for a party and tells them to invite their friends. Guttenberg suggests a live reading of Roman’s latest script, which leads to everyone making fun of his “Hard Sci-Fi” story. Casey and Henry end up making out in the jacuzzi—the beginning of the end for Uda and Henry.
Who Are the Actors in the Party Down Cast?
Party Down‘s ensemble is seriously stacked.
Ken Marino as Ron Donald
Party Down’s commander in chief is a lovable doofus who consistently gets walked over by his staff and life in general. The role is the perfect complement to Marino’s resume that’s already chock-full of absurdist comedy. He was a member of MTV’s The State and has appeared in tons of David Wain films, including Wet Hot American Summer and both follow-up Netflix series.
Adam Scott as Henry Pollard
Henry’s given up acting by the time we meet him. He falls back into catering with ease, thanks to a lack of direction, cynical attitude and an attraction to co-caterer Casey. After hanging up his pink bow-tie, Scott joined the Pawnee Parks Department on Parks and Recreation.
Lizzy Caplan as Casey Klein
Casey can’t wait to hit it big so she can leave Party Down forever, but she’s still moderately entertained by the staff’s level of idiocy. Caplan’s had a steady flow of work throughout her career, most notably as Janis Ian in Mean Girls and a leading role as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex.
Martin Starr as Roman DeBeers
Starr broke big as the loveable geek Bill Haverchuck on the acclaimed Freaks and Geeks. Roman’s monotone delivery and condescending air was perfect for Starr, who also plays a similar misanthrope on HBO’s Silicon Valley.
Ryan Hansen as Kyle Broadway
Ever since his stint as lovable a-hole Dick Casablancas on Veronica Mars, Hansen has been typecast as the charismatic blonde-haired bro, which is pretty much the deal for Kyle. Hansen’s resume is filled with similar roles, but hey—Hansen owns it and he’s always charming.
Jane Lynch, Megan Mullally and Jennifer Coolidge switch off, each adding her own comedic spin to the catering crew. All three add very unique energies, but every iteration works. Fans of Lynch’s work with Christopher Guest will definitely want to check her out as Party Down‘s Constance Carmell, a former actress with experience who serves as a mentor and friend to Kyle.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on Party Down?
Since Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas is one of four co-creators of this Party, there’s a jillion Mars alumni seasoned throughout. (Marshmallows—listen up!)
Here’s a list of the most important Party Down guest stars:
Kristen Bell as Uda Bengt
Veronica Mars herself pops up for two episodes as the head of a catering competitor. Bell fans can check out the episodes “Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception” and “Party Down Company Picnic” to see her in action. Her appearance reunites her with her former Mars co-star Hansen.
Enrico Colantoni as Gordon McSpadden
Another Mars alum, Colantoni plays Gordon, a suburban homeowner who hires the gang. Suburbia has gotten to poor Gordon, who’s tired of the fakery of social politics. He ends up stripping down and diving into the pool naked, much to the horror of his wife and neighbors.
J.K. Simmons and Joey Lauren Adams as Leonard and Diandra Stiltskin
Simmons serves whipsmart Whiplash vibes as Leonard, a cranky, foul-mouthed film producer who’s constantly bickering with his wife, Diandra, who later tries to seduce Kyle. Simmons is always a treat, but it’s even more thrilling to see Adams in action.
The list of guest-stars is endless: Ed Begley Jr., Steven Weber, Joe Lo Truglio, Jimmi Simpson, Paul Scheer, Marilu Henner, etc., and that barely scratches the surface.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind Party Down?
The show is co-created, written and executive produced by four main people:
Thomas (not the Matchbox 20 guy) received critical acclaim for the fantastic Veronica Mars. He now works on the CW’s iZombie, which he also co-created, writes and produces.
A former supervising producer and writer for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Enbom has more recently joined Thomas writing and producing for iZombie.
Rudd starred in the pilot for the series, but was ultimately too busy being a super famous movie star to commit to acting duties. However, he’s credited as a co-creator, writer and producer.
Another Thomas staple, Ethridge has also worked on Mars and iZombie, in addition to The Carrie Diaries.
Before The Wonder Years vet returned to acting, he built quite the directing resume working on shows like Party Down, 2 Broke Girls, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Happy Endings, and more.
Where Party Down Ranks in the Television Pantheon
When discussing the greatest comedy shows of the 2000s, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Arrested Development are a few that consistently rise to the top. Party Down absolutely belongs in that discussion; it’s a healthy serving of TV comedy’s crème de la crème. It’s got sharp dialogue à la Tina Fey, the cringe-worthiness of Curb Your Enthusiasm and an impressive cast that rivals the Bluthe family. Not only was it successful in deflating celebrity egos and poking fun at LA wannabes, but it also navigated the more complex interpersonal relationships of a bunch of misfits coincidentally brought together to sling drinks and serve hors d’oeuvres. The show was well-received critically, but failed to garner the wide exposure necessary for a longer life, which is a downright shame. Maybe if social media buzz had been stronger, the show could’ve found new life on Netflix or Hulu. Movie rumors frequently circled the web for the next couple years following its cancellation, but the rumors were to no avail. Regardless, like any new classic, Party Down is just as effective, if not more so, throughout every re-watch. It’s the rare bottle of scotch at your cheapskate cousin’s wedding: you’re surprised that it exists and you should drink it up until it’s gone.