Henry Pollard: The Audience of His Own Show

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Although he is the main character of Party Down, Henry Pollard is far from the conventional protagonist. He is not concerned with actively pursuing some greater good, or fighting against some perceived antagonist. That is not to say that he is the antihero either; in fact, he does not seem to be altogether virtuous or wicked. Henry is merely detached from the situation in a way that most of the other characters featured are not. He manages to be an integral part of every episode without usually becoming directly involved in the plot. While the rest of his companions are seen in a near constant state of hysteria due to some mishap of their own doing, Henry is often level-headed and uninterested in the development at hand. He is the wisecracking commentator who mainly intervenes later on to do damage control on the destruction that his fellow cast members have wrought. This damage control is not generally any more effective than that of his coworkers but he at least does not often end up being detrimental to the cause. The show tends to spend a great deal of time focusing the camera on his face (much more than any of the others) as he visibly processes a variety of emotion. By providing a character that watches and reacts to the episodic developments for much of the time rather than someone who is constantly involved, the creators (Fred Savage, Dan Etheridge, and Rob Thomas) balanced out what may have otherwise been a far-fetched and exasperating series with someone that the audience could relate to on a more personal level. The most obvious indication that Pollard is a spectator are the frequent close ups of his dumbfounded facial expressions after a particularly disturbing exchange. The camera zooms in as his eyes bug out with a... ... middle of paper ... ... so little heart. Pollard was meant to be a sympathetic character, in spite of all of his faults, so the creators endeavored to keep him just human enough for us to care about him but detached enough to stay sane when surrounded by these eccentric people. This delicate balance between empathy and apathy could probably not have lasted for very long for his character had the show been allowed to run its full course. John Enbom explained that they had no concrete plans for the third season but that Henry would have to have gone either one way or the other eventually. He was always going to either face more rejection and eventually fully accept his life for what it was or he was going to finally make it but doing so would mean he could only appear as a guest star because in Party Down, “if anybody enjoys too much success, they're not on the show anymore” (Sepinwall).

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