Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maybe that's why I find the show more depressing than funny

The whiff of failure makes Party Down the flipside of that other Hollywood series, Entourage, whose ordinary guys get to live large — cool cars, hot chicks, fancy restaurants. Where that fizzy HBO series was an almost perfect expression of a bubble economy, Party Down seems just right for an economic downturn in which people still harbor oversized American dreams but know they need a job to survive. And though the show has fun with the characters' foibles and limitations — they're all slightly deformed by their ambitions — it avoids what we might call Day of the Locust Syndrome. It doesn't look at them as Little People or treat them with fear and disdain. It's affectionate.

NPR reviews Party Down. I wish I could say I thought they were right. If I wasn't waiting for Mr. Klemow's appearance (god, I'm a good friend), I'd have stopped watching a few episodes ago.

But the show NPR describes sounds like one I'd like. I wish I could see it.

Everything turns around Henry, who, as episodes spin out of control, remains the show's still center. Beautifully underplayed by [Adam] Scott, he reveals himself in bone dry quips and almost imperceptible inner crumples that betray his mortified sense of his place in the world. Alone of the six, Henry has abandoned his hopes of the bigtime, but what's great is that this has made him humane, not cynical: Even when his coworkers are being foolish, he never looks down on their dreams. Wised up and sad, he's Party Down's hero and melancholy heart. He knows that he's not an actor. He really is a bartender.

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