Teenage highschool dramaseries have been gracing television screens for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up I loved watching shows like Beverly Hills 90210, and yes I know how sappy those series at times can be. But I don’t know, they were just easy to watch, and had subjects in them that pretty much everyone who went to school can relate to in one way or another. Now that I am older it’s sometimes nice to revisit those old series. Call it a trip down memorylane or, god forbid, a midlife crisis, but some of those shows are still a lot of fun. There was a series that has always stood out amongst all of them though. And to simply call it yet another teenage drama is really selling it short. Because Party of Five, the show that I am talking about, is really so much more than that.
Party of Five deals with five siblings living together in a house, after the tragic death of their parents in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Charlie Salinger is the older brother, and pretty much in charge of everything, but that certainly isn’t an easy task. Charlie is not one of the most responsible people of the world, but he tries to do his best in a very difficult situation. Than there is Bailey, the younger brother who always tries to do the right thing, even at the cost of himself sometimes. Julia Salinger is the older sister, who can be a bit rebellious at times, but also has a heart of gold. And then there is Claudia, the youngest sister, who is trying to become one of the best violin players of the world. And to complete the party of five we have baby brother Owen, who everyone adores, but ofcourse is a handful. The first season deals with all of them coming to grips with the hard life after the death of their parents, and getting along with each other.
Now, I can already see the frowns starting to pop up all over on your heads. Yes, I know this sounds like a very sad story, and how this is probably one of those seriously tearjerking series. But you could not be more wrong. Party of Five was once described as “The best show you are not watching”. Throughout it’s runtime the series always struggled to stay on the air because of failing ratings. And that was mainly because this was not your typical teenage show. For one thing the acting was absolutely amazing. Matthew Fox, who most of you might know from the succesful television series Lost, plays the role of Charlie. And he does that in an incredible way. Charlie is a character that has really got some serious flaws. You may even hate him at times, but it makes him all the more human, and you really can feel for him at so many points throughout the show.
But the rest of the cast is amazing as well. Bailey, played by Scott Wolf is a character that has a natural charisma, and one that I myself could understand and relate to the most. He always tries to see the best in people, and goes out of his way to help them, but usually ends up being disappointed because of that. Scott has a very natural and believable way of acting, which helps you like the character even more. Julia is played by a young Neve Campbell, and she was always an incredible actress right from the start. It’s honestly pretty sad that her career never took off as much, as was believed at the time. Finally Claudia, played by Lacey Chabert, is just one of those characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. She has an innocence to her, and not a bad bone in her body, even though she can sometimes really be a brat. But you pretty much forgive her for acting up like that at times.
Throughout it’s first season run, the Salingers have to deal with a lot of issues and emotions. There are laughs, tears, and scary moments as well, all blended together in a fantastic mix. The stories in pretty much all of the episodes are written very well, and deal with many more things than only teenage romances. And that was one of the show’s greatest strengths. There are some very mature themes in the show, that were there right from the start of this series. Yes, there are some very heavy moments in Party of Five as well, not going to lie to you there, but it never becomes to oppressive. Certainly not in this first season, which also had some very good humor in it too. I can’t recommend Party of Five enough. If you have never seen this show, try it out, and I dare you not to bingewatch it after seeing five minutes of it. And for those of you that have seen it, it’s great to revisit it for a bit of nostalgia, or a midlife crisis. Whatever takes your fancy.
I give Party of Five season 1 a 9 out of 10 score.