There are some shows that are guaranteed to make you cry; This Is Us, Queer Eye, Grey’s Anatomy. Don’t even get us started. But an oldie, and a goodie that required a box of tissues each hour was 1994 drama Party of Five. And, turns out, series star Scott Wolf agrees.
Coming-of-age dramas in the ’90s was a TV staple, from Felicity to Dawson’s Creek to 90210 but Party of Five doesn’t get included in that list often enough—in spite of its awesomeness (thanks to the brilliant cast) and acclaim (from both faithful fans and critics alike). It did win the Golden Globe for Best Television Series in 1996, after all. The plot of the show alone, which followed the five Salinger siblings who have to cope after their parents are killed by a drunk driver, is enough to induce tears but it was the siblings’ struggles week after week that got viewers every time. And after 20 years of being off the air (the series ended in 2000), it still gets Wolf right in the feels.
“A few years back when Party of Five got picked up by Netflix, I hadn’t seen one in years,” the actor told People in a recent interview. But when he decided to watch the show, he “totally Party of Five rabbit-holed” himself and his reaction was one every Party of Five fan will understand: “I don’t even know how long later … hours, I had tears dripping down my face. It was like a family reunion.” Aw, Bailey.
Last month, Wolf took to Instagram to pay tribute to the show on the 25th anniversary of the series’ premiere and while September 12, 1994 seems like forever ago but that theme song, “Closer to Free” from The Bodeans, can still cause goosebumps for people (hello Gen Xers!) who watched during its original run. It was also the day that the careers of Wolf, Neve Campbell, Matthew Fox, Lacey Chabert and Jennifer Love Hewitt were launched into another stratosphere.
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25 years ago today, Party of Five premiered. We didn’t know much, but we knew it felt special—to us. We hoped it would feel special enough to enough people to get to keep going. To keep exploring the lives of the Salinger family, characters that became a part of us all so fast. We fell as hard for each other as real life people as we had for our characters. A true family on camera and off. We just hoped they’d let us finish the first season. We told each other that would be enough. One great year. We didn’t dare to hope for 6 seasons. We could never have imagined how many lives the show would be able to touch. Surely, we wouldn’t have dreamed that the show might still matter to people a quarter of a century later. To the little show that could, to the “best show you’re not watching”, to the dark horse @goldenglobes winner of 1996. To six of the best years of my life, to my second family, to the rest of the cast and crew and producers and writers and anyone who championed the show and feels as proud to have been a part of it as I surely do: Happy 25th Anniversary. 💝
Campbell, of course, went on to star in the Scream franchise as well as House of Cards and Skyscraper with The Rock more recently. Fox was unforgettable on Lost, Chabert will forever be known as Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls, and Hewitt is currently part of the 911 cast. As for Wolf, who’s now 51 and clearly drinking the same water as Paul Rudd because he hasn’t aged a day, he now co-stars on Nancy Drew.
As for Party of Five, its memory lives on. Literally. A reboot of the show will air on Freeform in the new year, following a different family—the Acostas—after their parents are deported back to Mexico and they need to learn to depend on each other to get by. It premieres in January 2020 and will likely bring on more tears.