This Is One of the Best Nerd Culture Moments in TV History

This week, party down returns to Starz. In its original version, the popular comedy about a group of LA catering waiters who stuck together both at work and in various states of disillusionment lasted only 20 episodes from 2009 to 2010. But what a glorious 20! Each episode was set at a different absurd catered event: a singles seminar, a murder acquittal celebration, Steve Guttenberg’s birthday. And each episode managed to capture something painfully real in a wonderfully twisted, genuinely heartbreaking way. Namely: Despite all the evidence available, why do we continue to hope for good things in our lives? Who knows. We just do it.

The show never got good ratings and duly canceled in the summer of 2010, which feels pretty much on-brand. After the sinking, fans and culture writers were quick to secure his legacy with a bevy of hagiographies and oral histories. So did it really have to come back? Especially without the standout Lizzy Caplan, who wasn’t available because she was already booked for FX Fleishman is in trouble? Alongside Adam Scott’s Henry Pollard, Caplan’s Casey Klein has written a really great and never-explained will-they-or-want-they film. If there was a purpose for a third season, it probably could have been found in the story of Henry and Casey. Without that, it’s hard to know if party down, Part deux will deliver.

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But if there’s even a chance that this new third season will disappoint, I want to counteract that familiar feeling of low spirits by returning to a scene from the original – one that ranks among the finest moments in television history. It’s in the fifth episode of the first season, the “Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty”. The episode’s Wikipedia synopsis alone is something of a gem: “While throwing an adult entertainment awards afterparty, Ron receives an offer from a producer to star in a porn movie in order to get enough money to start his Soup ‘R cracker franchise. Kyle tries to teach Roman how to act cool around pornstars, but to no avail…Stormy Daniels guest-starred for Best Blowjob.”

But the special show-stealing part comes when the aforementioned Roman, an aspiring sci-fi screenwriter played by Martin Starr, finds himself in the bar for a lonely customer: an adult entertainer named Cramsey, played by Beth dover What follows is a refreshing nerd moment. A pure distillation of what it means to love a pop culture thing so much that it becomes You.

The moment begins awkwardly with Roman muttering in anger, serving Cramsey a drink and offering a cynic star trek Reference: “Live long and prosper.” Then Cramsey asks a magical question: “Hey – are you in sci-fi?”

“Yes,” he quickly shoots back, suppressing his excitement. “Are you into science fiction?”

“Yeah, absolutely,” she says, then mentions a project she was working on when “an alien took me out with his tentacled arms,” ​​to prove it. “That sounds cool,” Roman says with a faint smile. They talk a little more and there is a flicker of chance, of hope, of warmth, of care. Then he asks, “So, what kind of stuff are you into?”

Feeling confident enough to be honest, she says, “What I really like are dragons.”

“Dragon?” Roman takes a sip of his drink, closes his eyes, and tries to force himself not to say what he’s definitely going to say. Then there it is – Roman is pedantic and annoying and completely screwed up. “Dragons are fantasy. If there’s magic talismans, or a magic sword, or wizards, or freaking crazy non-real animals, all those basic things that break the laws of reality, then it’s all fantasy. I like hard sci-fi. Imagination is bullshit.” And then it’s time. it’s over She’s gone.

That little diatribe? That’s a real hardcore commitment to your chosen territory that some fan subcultures genuinely believe in. But it’s not just the overly hardcore that would say something like that. Who among us hasn’t felt some version of that self-righteous purity? This sentence formation – “I like hard science fiction. Fantasy is bullshit” – regenerates endlessly. “I’m into hard post-hardcore. Emo is bullshit.” “I’m into hard Godard. Aronofsky is bullshit.” “I like hard kale. Spinach sucks.” We can respect Roman’s commitment to his integrity, be Truth – it’s real. Whatever else he is, he’s honest.

You must give it to him: he dies on this hill. But audiences also have to ask themselves: if he’d just sat around and chatted a little longer, might he have found a real mutual interest with another human being? It’s a strange moment that sounds harsh, undeniably true. It’s so, so funny and so, so pathetic. In that it is unique party down.

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