One of the finest Mad Men episodes, season three’s Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency traded brooding for bloodshed during Joan’s surprise goodbye party. That same day, the new British owners of the company paid Sterling Cooper a visit. Young exec Guy MacKendrick from London-based ad agency Putnam, Powell & Lowe was tasked with leading the New York reorganization, but things go wrong quickly. While some of the SC crew are drunkenly goofing around on a John Deere tractor celebrating an account win with the agricultural manufacturer, secretary Lois Sadler runs over MacKendrick’s foot. It’s a macabre, but darkly humorous moment that shocked audiences and the Sterling Cooper team.
AMC’s other landmark show Breaking Bad featured a wild, but depressing, three-day long party at Jesse’s place full of booze, girls, and drugs. It eventually becomes too much even for Badger and Skinny Pete, and it’s clear that the bizarre gathering is a reflection of Jesse’s shattered inner state and extreme guilt over the third’s season’s tragic end. The excruciating party is often seen from the point of view of a Roomba vacuum cleaner, further emphasizing Jesse’s attempt to drown his emotions with endless commotion and needless things.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Larry and Cheryl head to a party hosted by golf pal and retired porn star Gil Bang, but after struggling with directions the couple rudely shows up late. To make matters worse, Gil’s wife is annoyed that Larry didn’t remove his shoes once inside the house. Conversation about porn contributes to the following awkward moments that reach a climax when Larry breaks a lamp, and Gil’s wife totally flips. They leave, but Larry forgets something, forcing him to go back to the party and cringe through a second uncomfortable goodbye in true Larry David fashion.
It wasn’t a perfect episode, but Pool Party was one of the better out of the office excursions for Dunder Mifflin. The gang heads to Robert California’s wannabe bacchanal pad — AKA the mansion he’s losing because of his divorce — for some boozy fun. Erin tries to make Andy jealous by using Dwight as her pawn. Darryl unsuccessfully tries to put the moves on Val. Robert is horny and awkward. Gabe and Ryan put up with Robert’s sleazy musings to impress him. Just another day at The Office.
Office parties don’t usually rank high on a list of fun things to do for most people, but Seinfeld took it to a whole other level. Elaine’s famous “full body dry heave set to music” takes center stage at her office party, which quickly devolves into a hugely embarrassing foible, causing the staff to lose all respect for her.
How I Met Your Mother
Marshall and Lily have a housewarming party, and we immediately learn that the whole thing fell apart in a matter of minutes thanks to a basement full of bees. A quibble over vegan spring rolls and Gouda cheese sets off the comedy of errors, but relationship rants sink the party completely, punctuated by a man in a beekeeper outfit running through the house on fire. The frantic party is one way audiences witness the couple dealing with the transitions of adult life.
Every shindig is (was — weep!) a dramatic event for the Party Down catering team, but no celebratory catastrophe could be greater than almost killing off Star Trek helmsman Sulu (George Takei) after a near-fatal snafu. Roman abandons his post by the bathroom in order to stalk Takei at the urinal, making him pee shy with questions about mind melding. Later, Party Down makes a grossly negligent food mixup, accidentally causing a severe allergic reaction for poor Sulu. We’d say actions like these are punishable by cancellation, but Starz already beat us to it.
Parks and Recreation
Leslie proves she’s burning the candle at both ends in Sweet Sixteen, when she forgets to invite Jerry to the Parks Department’s surprise birthday party for their oft-hated coworker. The 64-year-old Jerry was born on a leap day and only had 16 actual birthdays, but nearly misses his special moment after relationship drama at Donna’s lake house and Leslie’s campaign fixation distracts from the occasion.
Freaks and Geeks
The Weir family heads out of town making it the perfect opportunity for Lindsay to impress her new friends (and win Daniel) with a keg party. After a school assembly about alcohol-related deaths spooks Sam, Neal, and Bill, they substitute the libations with a non-alcoholic drink. Nothing goes as planned (even though many of the friends act totally drunk), and Kim gets in the way of Lindsay’s love connection. The weird evening is topped off with a rousing rendition of “Jesus is just alright with me” by Millie — Lindsay’s less than cool, uber religious former best friend.
The Golden Girls
With the arrival of the leap year’s full moon, Blanche decides to throw a moonlight madness party. Lunar powers are in full effect when Dorothy seems to replace Blanche as the object of male attention, Blanche’s jewelry goes mysteriously missing, and Rose gets a surprise proposal from Miles. Sophia, of course, is convinced it’s all due to a long-standing curse. Meanwhile, Dorothy has to contend with an awkward moment of passion with Miles, resulting in a double entendre-filled convo with Rose about “moist, delicious cupcakes.” It’s a Miami retiree’s take on Shakespeare’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream.