Why Megan Mullally is Bad for Party Down
With the backing of much Internet praise -- praise, which seems inversely proportional to the show's actual viewers -- the second season of Party Down premiered on Starz last night. Altogether now: Hooray! And while "Jackal Onasis Backstage Party" was slow, moderately funny, incredibly awkward and fairly depressing -- so, y'know, a perfect episode of Party Down -- one thing stood out like a sore thumb: the presence of Megan Mullally. Who let her in this building?
Of course Mullally famously replaced Jane Lynch on the Party Down cast roster after the veteran comic actress ran off to fame and fortune on Glee. And the thought was that Mullally would fit in perfectly with the other cast members (Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Martin Starr, Lizzy Caplan and Ryan Hansen), resulting in a seamless transition.
Except, no. Despite some glowing reviews -- the Vulture recapper wrote that Mullally "seems to be inventing and unpeeling new layers of intense weirdness with every line reading and feathery hand gesture," proving that perhaps I saw a different show -- her performance felt forced, arch and broad. Or, to put it another way, everything that Party Down is not. Never mind that some of the biggest laughs in the first season came from Lynch's interactions with Ryan Hansen. Or that Jennifer Coolidge was outstanding when she filled in for Lynch last year. The casting of Mullally just feels wrong.
The series thrives on subtly and pathos, two traits that you'd never even think of using to describe Mullally's previous work. Which begs the question: How could executive producer Rob Thomas and his crew actually think that she'd be an appropriate replacement for Jane Lynch?
Having seen the second and third episodes already, I'm unhappy to report that she doesn't get much better. The series, however, is still in top form. If Party Down actually gets a third season, here's hoping Ryan Murphy finds room for Mullally on Glee.