The cast of 'Party Down' sitting on a table

REVIEW: ‘Party Down’ Is Back and Better Than Ever

5/5 Party Dowms

There are shows in this world that were gone before anyone really had the chance to enjoy them. One of those shows is Party Down. The first two seasons aired on STARZ, and then the series was canceled, and since then, the show has become a darling among comedy fans—mainly because the cast of the series went on to big things, and it brought fans back to the series they all starred in together. So now that season 3 is on the horizon after nearly 13 years, the show is back and … well, this might be their best season yet.

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Party Down season 3 takes us right back into the crew of Party Down catering, led by Ronald Donald (Ken Marino) and this time: It’s different! Sort of. When it comes to reboot series, there’s always the nostalgia factor to unpack. Yes, seeing Adam Scott back as Henry Pollard was emotional for someone like me, who loves Adam Scott’s filmography, but this series proved that it wasn’t just leaning on nostalgia to keep it running.

It’s the same format we’ve come to know—just a show about a group of creatives forced to work catering jobs to make ends meet, led by a man who is a people pleaser to a fault. And the return to the show after all these years really could have had the team all back where we started, but instead it’s a fascinating twist on what Party Down is, and it makes for probably my favorite season yet, which is saying something. There is no party at Steve Guttenberg’s house in season 3.

Everyone is exactly where they should be

When we head back to Party Down catering for season 3, the only two who still work for the company are Ron (who is in charge) and Roman (Martin Starr). It’s a move that makes the most sense, because Ron took Party Down too seriously to ever leave, and Roman wasn’t going anywhere on principle because it was Party Down until his hard sci-fi work sold, or nothing. But they’re celebrating Kyle (Ryan Hansen) and his success as the new hero in a superhero franchise. As always, we’re following Henry (Adam Scott) as he joins the party and is reunited with his old coworkers and “friends.”

What I find fascinating about the third season is how it gets a lot of the team back to Party Down and how the show keeps evolving these characters while keeping their core the same. Henry is still, in his eyes, a failure despite living a somewhat normal life and finding his own happiness after his affair with Casey—Casey Klein, who is not in this season, but Lizzy Caplan’s image is used to tell us that Casey is successful after landing Saturday Night Live, and I love that for the Adam Scott catalog of love interests.

Season 3 is different and fresh while still being the same Party Down we know and love, and it’s a great return to form.

Same chaos, some new faces

This season is a little less unhinged in the way that previous seasons were, but with Constance (Jane Lynch) being a wealthy health guru after the death of her husband and being there for Ron when he needs it, the gang is all back with some new friends. Lydia (Megan Mullally) is working as her daughter Escapade’s manager, after she becomes famous, and so we see her throughout the season at important parties. But for the most part, the crew is Henry (back part-time to make money outside of his other job), Roman, Kyle, and some new friends for us to love.

Zoe Chao plays a new chef named Lucy, who experiments with her food (and none of it is to Ron’s standards), and then there is Sackson (Tyrel Jackson Williams), who is trying to make his career in content and wants to post TikToks while on the job. They’re both great additions to the Party Down team!

Overall, season 3 just feels like we never missed a beat. It’s right back to where we left off, even though these characters also had a 13-year break. But god, does it feel great to be back with Party Down, and I hope that we get even more of this series. Season 4 had better not be in another 13 years.

It would be so easy for this show to not work in 2023, and yet, season 3 proves that there is something about Party Down that is always going to shine—at least for me, a Henry Pollard apologist.

(featured image: STARZ)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.