Well if this was indeed Party Down’s swan song, they certainly went out with a bang. While it probably wasn’t the creator’s intention, this episode served as a virtual resumé for what the show as a whole does best. Party Down’s strength lies within its wide range of characters. They each represent a different subset of the Hollywood dream (and in most cases a very different brand of humor they provide the show), but they also each manage to go behind their face-value archetypes and form an utterly impressive whole. On most episodes, however, there is barely enough show to go around, leaving at least some of the Party Down staff on the short end of a plotline. “Constance Carmell Wedding” might be the first time the show successfully shined its light near-equally on each of it’s characters, while leaving plenty for the always-hilarious former cast member Jane Lynch.
The wedding made for a perfect format to let the Party Down crew run wild. This season has seen many characters outside of their typical work functions—the wedding setting brought a healthy combination of the typical catering hijinks while letting them play even more than usual, since they were working for own of their own. Constance, Lynch’s character from Season One of the show, was both a fairly endearing friend to most of the crew and a delusional kook with a penchant for absurd one-liners that, at their best, made Sue Sylvester seem prudish and level-headed.
Her mere presence added an extra dose of funny to the show. She also provided the main conflict of the episode. Constance is marrying an aging, semi-creepy film producer (he squeezes Megan Mullally’s butt and tells her she has “nice flanks”) with a heart condition, whom she’s been dating for less than two months. Much of the cast is worried she’ll get hurt, and her potential daughter-in-law is worried she’s only in it for the money. And of course, the wedding is briefly broken up by Patrick Duffy!
In the midst of all this, every character comes into contact with their larger ambitions in some way. Except for Roman: he just gets really, really stoned on some hippie baked goods.
These brushes with dreams had their fair shares of hilarity. Top honors go to Ron and Kyle: Ron wins for elatedly breaking the news to his girlfriend that her parents are getting a divorce, realizing it would be good for his career before he even considered it might be devastating for her. Kyle earns points for writing a song his band (Karma Rocket!) played for Constance that turned out to be not only awesomely emo, but strung together multiple accidental Holocaust allusions in front of a room of horrified Jewish men and women.
But the emotional heart of the show, as usual, was Henry and Casey’s relationship. Ever since the show recently ended the “will-they won’t they” dynamic with a definite “they will,” the writers seemed a bit perplexed with what to do with the couple (aside from looking for new hook-up locales). This time they dealt with their relationship in a much more head-on manner than we’ve ever seen.
Near the end of the episode, Casey gets a phone call from her agent informing her that her hopeful big break (a brief scene in an upcoming Apatow flick) is now being left on the cutting room floor. Henry finds her alone and crying. He tries to comfort her, but she remains stuck to the thought that he can’t rightfully tell her to keep pursuing her dreams if he so readily gave up on his. It ends a bit undefined, but was nonetheless a moving scene that went much deeper than the show often attempts.
Before the end credits, most everyone on the show has suffered some crushing blow to their larger hopes. Oh yeah, and Constance’s husband died before they even made it through the limo ride. Yes, really. But in the end, everyone is mostly smiles at work aside from Henry, the show’s perpetual failed-dreamer. Henry goes to his first audition since he returned to Party Down Catering two seasons ago, creating what might be the most depressingly goofy path to a hopeful ending in television history. We wouldn’t have it any other way with these guys.