Party Down: "Nick Dicintio's Orgy Night"
B

Party Down: "Nick Dicintio's Orgy Night"

B

Party Down

"Nick Dicintio's Orgy Night"

Season 2, Episode 3

Great. Thanks a lot, Party Down, for proving me wrong just one week after I griped about Roman being a total downer. Last Friday, I suggested that Roman’s angry-nerd act was becoming a little too one-note to be enjoyable; now tonight we see him not only showing a little humanity to his nemesis Kyle, but also deploying his angry-nerditude in such a way that it actually lightened up what was a fairly dark episode. Like most people, usually I hate being proven wrong, but in this case, it’s a welcome occasion.  

Roman’s relentless efforts to kick-start a dead-in-the-water orgy hosted by Nick Dicintio (played by Tom Lennon, yet another name on PD’s roster of top-notch guest stars) constituted the lone bits of optimism in tonight’s downer episode. (Lively as they were, Lydia’s attempts to catch the eye and huge house of the recently divorced Dicintio were too motivated by desperation to feel optimistic. Lydia was making a frantic grab at not dying alone; Roman just wanted to see some titties.) Granted, none of Roman’s plans to get other people—or himself—into the “fuck room” went exactly as planned, but at least he was energized by some sort of purpose while the rest of the crew wallowed in their respective miseries. 

Now, Henry and Casey are always pretty ready to admit their lives suck, so their significant-other issues weren’t particularly poignant—though Henry’s admission that his relationship with Uda doesn’t “give his life meaning,” followed by Ron’s not-so-comforting “Well, at least you’ve got work” was its own certain kind of soul-crushing. But really it was the despair of two of the series’ most insistently positive characters, Ron and Kyle, that gave this episode its dark overtones. Despite their respective failures throughout the first season, both Ron and Kyle were always motivated by the never-wavering belief that they were destined for bigger and better things. (Constance too, but we won’t be seeing her again until the season finale.)

But now, Ron is reduced to a blubbering, pit-stained fuckstick who can’t cut cheese without dissolving into hysterics over his ex-Ladyfriend, and Kyle is experiencing self-doubt, possibly for the first time ever, thanks to the struggling actress/condom-and-lube-dispenser at the party who drops a serious bitterness bomb on him. Throw all this in the midst of the saddest wannabe-orgy/Eyes Wide Shut theme party ever, and things look pretty bleak all around. Maybe that’s why Roman’s reluctant yet seemingly genuine attempts to comfort Kyle felt so gosh-darned sweet, even when presented via heartbreakingly ironic statements like, “Who you gonna believe, a wannabe who’s pissed from working a shitty, dehumanizing job, or me?”

Jaded as he is, Roman is nothing if not 100-percent committed to the belief that he is better and smarter than everyone around him, whether he’s lecturing a ready-and-willing porn star that dragons are not sci-fi or instructing Dicintio to find his “fuck-actives” and cluster them together. His ego is crusted over by a thick layer of disdain for the outside world, which protects him in a way that Kyle’s peacocking and Ron’s forced positivity can’t. It’s an effective yet often irritating self-defense tool, but in tonight’s episode it worked perfectly. (See: “Have you been to a lot of orgies?” “No, but I’ve read a lot on the subject. I’m a reader.”)

Once again, we’re faced with more subtle character moments than laugh-out-loud gags tonight, which seems to be becoming Party Down’s M.O.—and I can deal with that. As funny as male nudity is (and PD goes back to that well often), the sight of Tom Lennon’s bare ass is nowhere near as funny to me as Ron and Henry’s drunken giggling over “It’s okay, I understand.” (Also good: “Kaaaaah-rate!” which I’m totally stealing next time I do a shot.) While I’m still waiting for something on the level of Ron screaming “Call an ambulance!” or pretty much all of “Celebrate Rick Sargulesh,” watching the Party Down crew juggling their myriad miseries has its own kind of sadly hilarious charm.

Stray observations:

It goes without saying, but everyone, please stay out of the fuck room.

• "For the record, I'm not into that. Two guys on one chick, you're a perineum away from kissing dick."

• "Whoo! Free! Just me! Dying alone!”

• Basic orgy etiquette people: Only busty women and chiseled dudes get to do body shots.