If last week’s episode of Party Down celebrated Hollywood insiderism at its worst (cocaine, tits, cocaine on tits), this week focuses on clueless Hollywood outsiderism at its funniest. Our pink-tied strivers might know whom to bring to a red-carpet premiere, but they don’t know the first thing about sports. (Kyle thinks it’s weird that the host of the draft-day party they’re working is celebrating his being sent to Afghanistan.) Or about good, old-fashioned rib-sticking, American comfort food — you know, the kind that doesn’t come prepared in a baby pinecone sauce. Heck, Roman doesn’t even know that occasionally football players can be kind of smart! Clearly he’s never watched Dhani Tackles the Globe. As Lydia yells to her left-coast co-workers: “Do any of you actually live in America?!?”
The answer: No! Not really! Because Party Down is consistently brilliant in its portrayal of Los Angeles as a claustrophobic, insular bubble world populated by a motley bunch of dreamers and self-deluders, where the only people more insecure than those on the bottom are those screaming profanities into their cell phones in order to stay at the top. These guys don’t know the first thing about the real problems facing America. Such as: Just what is Tampa Bay thinking in not drafting Cole Landry?!?
Right, Cole Landry. The strapping, blond QB hosting a jäger party with his dad and besties in order to celebrate his being drafted by Tampa Bay, er Philly, er nobody. (Cole is also proof that the writers of Party Down are, like the showrunners of Friday Night Lights, graduates of the Lazy Football Player Naming Academy. Cole Landry here. Wade Aikman there. What are we missing? Colt Parcells? Peyton Cowher? Y.A. “Pacman” Tittle?) Anyway, our Cole tumbles down the draft board owing to the rumors that he’s gay, setting up our gang for their usual high jinks. Lydia seems to bond with Cole’s dad thanks to her ability to operate a keg and her natural loathing of Santa Barbara eel beaks. Also, she thinks he might be very rich soon if it weren’t for his whole son-being-gay thing. Too bad Mr. Landry senior is still hung up on his ex, Rihanna. (No, not that Rihanna. Another one. Because, you know, they exist.)
Meanwhile, Roman gets schooled on the correct usage of irony, Alanis Morrisette–style, by a thick-necked renaissance man with a thing for hard sci-fi. We weren’t crazy about this (though we loved how Kyle missed everything that was going on — helpfully adding Sulu to the list of authors Roman likes, right after Chekhov), but it did lead to Dr. Big Guy being set up by Kyle to confront Ron about his own massive, middle-American problem: his jizz. The set up for this — Ron telling Henry a partner asked him “Is that all?,” then asking Henry if he can “fill up a thimble,” Kyle imitating a just-fucked garden gnome — was funnier than the payoff: Ron handing a thimble-full of his seed to Dr. Big Guy.
And what of our favorite witty hookup birds, Henry and Casey? Well they are bantering charmingly, that’s for sure. (“You are a runty little puppy.” “Thanks!”) But there are mild storm clouds: Casey isn’t bringing Henry as her date to her big Apatow premiere. He plays it off like he gets it (“I probably wouldn’t want to bring a cautionary tale on my arm, either”), which just gets Casey riled up and funnier (“You’re not arm-candy cool, obviously. But fuck-buddy cool!”). Meanwhile, Henry is getting fairly terrible relationship advice from a sozzled running back who turns out to be Cole’s secret lover (or his “chocolate drop” as Cole puts it when he runs after him after being outed on national television). Casey plays dress-up pretending to be Cole’s girlfriend and admits she’s actually taking her mother to the premiere. No harm, no foul. Maybe just a little unnecessary roughness.
What did we learn? Well, we learned that prostate cancer isn’t just a fancy Latin term for ball cancer. We learned that Henry’s passivity — which can seem awfully cool to those of us watching at home! — can be kind of drag into aimless jealousy. We learned that Casey can rock a half-shirt (okay, we already knew that). We learned that despite Casey’s protestations, you absolutely can say “fuck” on television. And we learned that just because no 7-year-old needs eyeliner permanently tattooed on her face doesn’t make it a bad idea. One episode left, gang, maybe ever. Are we satisfied with how things are going? Let us know in the comments. It’s either that or resign yourself to a life like Casey’s: being crushed to death by her huge, fat imaginary husband.