TV Throwback Review: Party Down (1×05) “Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty”

Party Down (Starz)

Party Down (Starz)

“Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty” is not one of my favorite episodes of Party Down. Much of the episode is reliant on the obvious, juvenile jokes that come naturally along with a sitcom episode set at the afterparty of a pornography awards show. Nevertheless, this being Party Down, there’s still plenty to appreciate about “Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty” outside of the easy porn-related humor.

The most important subplot in the episode belongs to Kyle and Roman. In it, Kyle attempts to help Roman overcome his natural awkwardness (not to mention his knee-jerk perviness and misogyny) when it comes to talking to the porn stars at the afterparty. Not that he’s successful; as it turns out, Kyle’s success with the ladies is not the result of some carefully planned strategy, rather his natural charm and boyish good looks: two things that cannot be taught to someone like Roman.

And while Kyle ultimately gives up on Roman and Roman ends up immediately shooting himself in the foot moments after he makes his first real connection at the party (with the extremely depressing porn star Cramsey, played by the terrific Beth Dover), the very fact that Kyle wanted to help Roman and that Roman was willing to accept his help signifies an important shift in their dynamic. Up until now, Roman was the “alpha-male” (to the extent that Roman can be an alpha-male) mostly because of his assumed superior intelligence. Roman made fun of Kyle, pranked Kyle, and hurt Kyle, all from the position of power. Now, with both characters essentially admitting that Kyle is the better of the two socially, they are on an equal playing field.

I don’t remember if this shift is relevant to upcoming episodes, if it resurfaces or if it is even mentioned at all; however, in terms of “Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty” itself, Kyle’s demonstrable upper hand is certainly an important change of pace.

Party down (Starz)

Party down (Starz)

In a slightly more innocuous storyline, Casey scores some ecstasy off of a particularly sleazy producer. In her ecstasy-induced state, she quickly convinces Henry to try some as well. Unfortunately, when he finally tracks down the producer and takes the ecstasy, Casey is coming down off of her high. Nothing particularly special happening here.

If nothing else, this story gives us Henry and Casey on ecstasy. Both are incredibly funny. The episode’s tag is particularly notable, as Henry’s detailed rambling to the sleazy producer where he dissects the semantics of the critical blurb on the front cover of the producer’s recent DVD.  This had me laughing out loud as I watched the episode in public.

Mather Zickel, who is hilarious on Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital (a show which has clear ties to Party Down) shows up as an extremely direct porn producer who offers Ron a job after peering over a urinal at Ron’s privates. Ron is apparently extremely well-endowed (and good for him, he could use a win once in a while). At this point, Ron is desperate for cash, as his boss Mr. Duck (Ken Jeong), who had once committed to investing in Ron’s Soup’r Crackers upstart, now seems unlikely to invest.

Willing to do just about anything for money, Ron allows Zickel’s Guy Stennislaus to convince him to disrobe in front of him and his business partner. What follows is a series of terrific moments in which various Party Down employees barge into the room accidentally, to see their boss posing naked in front of a few strangers.

Jane Lynch is barely in “Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty,” and for the moment or two that she does appear, is unremarkable. This is certainly unfortunate (especially given that she leaves the show in just a few episodes), and it makes for a less-complete episode.

So while I don’t love this episode, ultimately it has a few strong stories and some fantastic performances. Ken Marino’s reaction when Guy tells him to “take it out” is one of the funnier reaction shots on Party Down. Lizzy Caplan playing Casey tripping is hilarious. Martin Starr is, as always, a champ when Roman reacts with disgust at Cramsey’s assertion that her favorite sci-fi stories involve dragons.


“Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty” Rating: 7.5/10


Soup’r Crackers Quote Corner

“[Mr. Duck’s] the money, Henry. He’s the money. If he’s yankin’ my chain then where am I going to get the money? The Money Store? Money Depot? Abercrombie and Money?” – Ron

“Dragons are fantasy. If there’s magical talismans, or a magic sword, or wizards, or fuckin’ crazy, not-real animals, all these basic things that break the laws of reality, that shit’s all fantasy. I’m into hard sci-fi. Fantasy is bullshit.” – Roman, on dragons.




Eli is a 20-year-old film student living in Boston. He spends quite a bit of his free time consuming pop culture and media: movies, TV, podcasts, etc. He is an aspiring screenwriter and filmmaker and will almost certainly “make it” one day. His favorite filmmakers are Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright, Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin McDonagh, and the Coen Brothers; his favorite movies are Punch Drunk Love, Amelie, Once, O Brother Where Art Thou, and In Bruges. A true contrarian, Eli believes that Christopher Nolan, Marvel, and small children are overrated.