are killed by a drunk driver. Charlie is 24 and vows that he will keep the family together. He's the oldest, so he's in charge, but he's also immature and the others don't respect his authority. The title comes from the fact that the parents owned a restaurant, Salingers, and the credits showed the four older kids entering a booth and tucking Owen in at the end.
The great thing about this show was that it was guilty wish-fulfillment for a lot of teens who watched it. Who hasn't gotten so mad at Mom and Dad that the thought "I wish they were dead" flies into the brain? Now, sweeten that with two super-cute brothers and/or two super-cute sisters, and no matter your proclivities, suddenly it doesn't sound so bad, right?
Of course no one would really choose that tragedy. And of course the Salinger kids were more angsty than most, due to their parents' demise (remember when Julia started skipping school? or when Bailey tried his hand at shoplifting?). But they always had each other, and they were always so attractive, and things really did work out in the end, even if the bumpy road stretched out over a few seasons.
If you watched all the way to the final season (did you? Not a lot of folks did.), you know that the ending was pretty much a downer—Charlie sold the house, the kids split the cash and they all went their separate ways. Bummer.
But on the way there was pretty Kirsten (Paula Devicq), whose relationship with Charlie was emotionally grueling to watch, that's how much you wanted them to be together. And remember Griffin? Played by Jeremy London, he was almost as fragile as the emotionally battered Salingers.
Speaking of Paula Devicq, if you're wondering what became of her (we sure were), she has been on a few TV shows here and there, including A Gifted Man, in which she played one Dr. Elizabeth Salinger, which is one of those TV in-jokes that we absolutely love (like the time 4/5 of the cast of Kids in the Hall voiced an episode of the Disney cartoon Lilo & Stitch, but we digress).
The other main actors fared better after Party of Five went off the air. But we confess that we still think of the Salingers sometimes—they do still get together at Christmas, right? And what does Owen look like all grown up? That's the lasting effect this show had on us.
Or maybe we just need to watch a little less TV.
Check out the article "Party Time" from People magazine (March 3, 1997; Vol. 47; No. 8).