Party of Five

Last updated

Party of Five
Party of Five title card.png
Genre Teen drama
Created by
Opening theme"Closer to Free" by BoDeans
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes142 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Paul Marks
  • P.K. Simonds
  • Bruce J. Nachbar
  • Steven Robman
  • Daniel Attias
  • Ian Biederman
  • Allan Heinberg
  • Richard Freeman
  • Steve Potter
  • David Dworetzky
Running time43–45 minutes
Production companies
Distributor Sony Pictures Television
Original network Fox
Original releaseSeptember 12, 1994 (1994-09-12) 
May 3, 2000 (2000-05-03)
Related shows Time of Your Life

Party of Five is an American television teen and family drama created by Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman that originally aired on Fox for six seasons from September 12, 1994, to May 3, 2000. The series featured an ensemble cast led by Scott Wolf as Bailey, Matthew Fox as Charlie, Neve Campbell as Julia, and Lacey Chabert as Claudia Salinger, who with their baby brother Owen (played by several actors) constitute five siblings whom the series follows after the loss of their parents in a car accident. Notable co-stars included Scott Grimes, Paula Devicq, Michael Goorjian, Jeremy London, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. While categorized as a series aimed at teenagers and young adults, Party of Five explored several mature themes, including substance and domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, mental illness, cancer, and the long-term effects of parental loss. [1]


Despite receiving positive reviews from television critics after its debut, including TV Guide naming it "The Best Show You're Not Watching" in 1995, [2] the series suffered from low ratings during its first and second seasons, during which speculation arose that it would soon be cancelled. In 1996, Party of Five won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama, after which ratings and popularity grew for the majority of the remainder of the series. [3] A spin-off starring Hewitt debuted on the network in 1999, Time of Your Life , which was cancelled after one season.


The show, set in San Francisco, centered on the five Salinger siblings (the "party of five" of the show's title), who become orphans after their parents are killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. The family is composed of 24-year-old Charlie (Matthew Fox), the eldest, a womanizing, immature manual laborer who struggles with the responsibility of being the new head of the family; 16-year-old Bailey (Scott Wolf), the once-rebellious teen forced into a role of responsible caretaker and later veering into alcoholism; 15-year-old Julia (Neve Campbell), a sensitive teen; 11-year-old Claudia (Lacey Chabert), a precocious child prodigy musician; and baby Owen, age one.

The siblings take over the running of their family's restaurant, Salinger's. Charlie initially serves as bartender and manager, and later Bailey takes over. Over the years, the Salingers face various struggles: the long-term effects of parental loss; in Season 3, Bailey's attempt to recover from alcoholism; in Season 4, Charlie's diagnosis with cancer; and in Season 5, Julia's dealing with domestic violence in a relationship. [1]

As the series progressed, romantic relationships became plot points and new cast members joined the show, including Jennifer Love Hewitt as Sarah, Bailey's girlfriend; Jeremy London as Griffin, Julia's "bad-boy" boyfriend and later husband; and Paula Devicq as Kirsten, Owen's nanny, who develops an on-again-off-again relationship with Charlie throughout the series, until they get married during the show's sixth and final season.

Cast and characters



The following lists all actors who appeared in five or more episodes during the run of the show.

  • The role of the youngest, Owen Salinger; (ages 1–6) was recast three times as the character grew. He was played by Alexander and Zachary Ahnert in the pilot episode, Brandon and Taylor Porter as an infant, Andrew and Stephen Cavarno as a preschooler, and Jacob Smith as a school-age child until the end of the show.
  • Tom Mason as Joe Mangus (55 episodes, seasons 1–6); a good-natured older man who grew up with the Salingers' father Nick in an orphanage and co-founded, co-owned, and managed the family restaurant Salinger's, taking over as full-time owner after Nick's death. He also often acts as a father figure to Nick's children.
  • Mitchell Anderson as Ross Werkman (22 episodes, seasons 1–6); a professional violinist and Claudia's personal violin tutor and friend.
  • Cari Shayne as Nina DiMayo (nine episodes, seasons 1–2); Julia's rebellious, outgoing friend from high school.
  • Jennifer Blanc as Kate Bishop (eight episodes, season 1); Bailey's first girlfriend from high school.
  • Michael Shulman as Artie Baum (seven episodes, season 1); Claudia's friend from elementary school, a fellow child violinist.
  • David Burke as Bill (six episodes, season 1); Owen's part-time nanny.
  • Megan Ward as Jill Holbrook (nine episodes, season 1); Bailey's outgoing and troubled girlfriend. Younger sister of Griffin Holbrook. (Deceased)
  • Wendle Josepher as Lori/Mercy (six episodes, seasons 1, 3–4); a school friend of Julia's
  • Kathleen Noone as Ellie Bennett (six episodes, seasons 2–3, 6); Kirsten's mother.
  • Marla Sokoloff as Jody Lynch (seven episodes, seasons 2–3); Claudia's troublemaking friend from junior high school.
  • Alyson Reed as Mrs. Reeves (nine episodes, seasons 2–5); Sarah's adoptive mother.
  • Carroll O'Connor as Jacob (Jake) Gordon (six episodes, seasons 2–3); the Salingers' maternal grandfather (father of their deceased mother, Diana Gordon Salinger).
  • Brenda Strong as Kathleen Isley (six episodes, season 2); a wealthy TV producer whom Charlie dates. When Charlie broke up with her after realizing that being with her made him feel like a "kept man" she maliciously retaliated by using her wealth to purchase, and nearly succeeded in closing down, the family restaurant.
  • Tamara Taylor as Grace Wilcox (16 episodes, season 3); a social worker and peer counselor who briefly becomes Charlie's girlfriend. She also runs a successful election campaign to become a city councilwoman.
  • Ben Browder as Sam Brody (10 episodes, season 3); a construction worker who briefly becomes Julia's boyfriend.
  • Dan Lauria as Coach Russ Petrocelli (six episodes, season 3); Bailey's wrestling coach during his first year at college.
  • Jackie Mari Roberts as Marcia (five episodes, season 3); Grace's co-worker, who later works for Grace's city council election campaign.
  • Andrew Keegan as Reed Isley (eight episodes, season 4); a high-school football player whom Claudia has a crush on and pursues.
  • Paige Turco as Annie Mott (18 episodes, season 4); a divorced single mother who briefly becomes Bailey's girlfriend.
  • Allison Bertolino as Natalie Mott (15 episodes, season 4); Annie's young daughter.
  • Jessica Lundy as Nina Rondstadt (five episodes, season 4); a zoologist who briefly becomes Charlie's girlfriend.
  • Tim DeKay as Dr. Paul Thomas (12 episodes, seasons 4–5); Kirsten's husband, who then becomes her ex-husband.
  • Brenda Wehle as Dr. Stephanie Rabin (eight episodes, seasons 4–5); Charlie's oncologist during his cancer treatments.
  • Ever Carradine as Rosalie (seven episodes, season 4); a garage co-worker with whom Griffin cheats on Julia.
  • Ross Malinger as Jamie Burke (six episodes, seasons 4–5); a friend of Claudia's who turns out to be the son of a rival restaurant owner and they briefly dated.
  • Scott Bairstow as Ned Grayson (20 episodes, seasons 5–6); Julia's boyfriend during her first year at Stanford who later abuses her.
  • Heather McComb as Maggie (11 episodes, season 5); Julia's college roommate who dated Ned before he cheated on her with Julia.
  • Adam Scott as Josh Macon (seven episodes, season 5); one of Julia's friends at college and Julia's crush.
  • Joanna Garcia as Hallie (five episodes, season 5); a classmate of Claudia's at her New England boarding school.
  • Lynsey Bartilson as Parker Brookes (five episodes, season 5); Claudia's classmate at her New England boarding school.
  • Chad Todhunter as Cody (10 episodes, seasons 5–6); Claudia's troubled boyfriend from the band that she joins with Griffin.
  • Kyle Secor as Evan Stilman (eight episodes, season 6); Julia's writing editor with whom she becomes briefly romantically involved.
  • Maggie Lawson as Alexa (seven episodes, season 6); a cheerleader friend of Claudia's.
  • Andrew Levitas as Cameron Welcott (six episodes, season 6); Alexa's football-player boyfriend who becomes romantically involved with Claudia.
  • Wilson Cruz as Victor (11 episodes, season 6); Daphne's gay friend who works as her daughter's nanny, and later works as Owen's nanny for the Salingers.
  • Lauren Ambrose as Myra Wringler (five episodes, season 6); a troubled high school student who clashes with Charlie.
  • Rhona Mitra as Holly Marie Beggins (12 episodes, season 6); an English pre-med student who becomes Bailey's girlfriend.
  • Charles Esten as Luke Sheppard (seven episodes, season 6); Daphne's boyfriend who's in the U.S. Army.
  • Sean Maher as Adam Matthews (seven episodes, season 6); An aspiring writer who briefly dated Julia.
  • Thomas Ian Nicholas as Todd Marsh (nine episodes, season 6); Claudia's boyfriend who works as a session musician and is a fellow violinist.


Fox Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow commissioned the show as a possible replacement for Beverly Hills, 90210 , which was then in its fourth season. Grushow stated that "I wanted a show that would possess many of the same values that '90210' had in the beginning. A show about teenagers and for teenagers. I pitched the notion of a group of kids who lost their parents in a tragic accident and therefore were forced to raise themselves." [6]

When Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman came on board to create the show, they disliked the more lighthearted premise the network had come up with, essentially of a bunch of teens without parents left to go wild, which Keyser called a " Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead kind of thing." They decided to take the show in a more dramatic direction, where the characters have to deal with the serious repercussions of being orphaned and growing up. [7]

Jerry O'Connell was initially offered the role of Bailey, but he chose to sign with the series Sliders instead. Scott Wolf auditioned and was cast the very same day, the first of the actors to be cast. [8] Neve Campbell, who was still living in Canada at the time, auditioned for Party of Five while she was in Los Angeles interviewing with different talent agencies to represent her. She auditioned along with her then-roommate Tara Strong, and ended up winning the role of Julia and moving to LA for the show. [8] [9]

The show was produced by Columbia Pictures Television (CPT) and High Productions. CPT would later be folded into Columbia TriStar Domestic Television, which soon afterward became Sony Pictures Television.

Nielsen ratings

SeasonEpisodesTimeslot (ET)Season PremiereSeason FinaleRankRating
(in millions)

Monday 9:00

Wednesday 9:00

September 12, 1994March 15, 1995#125[ citation needed ]6.2[ citation needed ]N/A

Wednesday 9:00

September 27, 1995March 27, 1996#96[ citation needed ]7.1[ citation needed ]N/A

Wednesday 9:00

August 21, 1996April 2, 1997#82[ citation needed ]7.4[ citation needed ]N/A

Wednesday 9:00

September 17, 1997May 13, 1998#56 [10] N/A11.5 [10]
525Wednesday 9:00September 16, 1998May 19, 1999#70[ citation needed ]N/A10.1[ citation needed ]
624Tuesday 9:00October 5, 1999May 3, 2000#113[ citation needed ]6.6[ citation needed ]6.135 [11]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 22September 12, 1994 (1994-09-12)March 15, 1995 (1995-03-15)
2 22September 27, 1995 (1995-09-27)March 27, 1996 (1996-03-27)
3 25August 21, 1996 (1996-08-21)April 2, 1997 (1997-04-02)
4 24September 17, 1997 (1997-09-17)May 13, 1998 (1998-05-13)
5 25September 16, 1998 (1998-09-16)May 19, 1999 (1999-05-19)
6 24October 5, 1999 (1999-10-05)May 3, 2000 (2000-05-03)

Home media

On April 27, 1999, Columbia TriStar Home Video released the season 2 episode "The Wedding", the season 3 episode "Intervention", and the season 4 episode "Richer, Poorer, Sickness, and Health" on VHS. [12] [13] [14]

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all six seasons of Party of Five on DVD in Region 1 between 2004 and 2013. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

In August 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Party of Five. [21] They subsequently re-released season 1 on DVD on June 24, 2014 followed by season 2 on January 6, 2015. [22] [23] On January 5, 2016, Mill Creek released a complete series set featuring all six seasons of the series, available together for the first time. [24]

In January 2016, it was announced that Hulu had acquired the rights to every episode of the series. [25]

DVD NameEp #Region 1Region 2Region 4DVD Special Features
The Complete 1st Season22May 4, 2004
June 24, 2014 (re-release)
Sept, 25 2006May 5, 2006
June 7, 2017 (re-release)
Audio Commentary On Selected Episodes.

"Party of Five: A Family Album", 17 minutes of a documentary about the shows first 4 seasons.

9 Behind The Scenes Featurettes with the Cast and Crew

(On Original DVD Release Only)

The Complete 2nd Season22December 20, 2005
January 6, 2015 (re-release)
Sept, 3 2007February 14, 2007
June 7, 2017 (re-release)
Audio Commentary On Selected Episodes.

Documentary on the Series Featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt.

(On Original DVD Release Only)

The Complete 3rd Season25March 25, 2008N/AJune 7, 2017Minisodes
The Complete 4th Season♦24March 5, 2013N/AJune 7, 2017None
The Complete 5th Season♦25July 2, 2013N/AJune 7, 2017None
The Complete 6th and Final Season♦24October 1, 2013N/AJune 7, 2017None
The Complete Series142January 5, 2016N/ANovember 1, 2017"Party of Five: A Family Album", the complete 44 minute documentary.

♦ - Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release.

Awards and nominations


In January 2018, Freeform ordered a pilot for a reboot of Party of Five, featuring five children who must take care of themselves after their parents are deported back to Mexico. [26] In April 2020, the reboot was canceled after one season. [27]


  1. 1 2 Ken Parish Perkins (September 12, 1994). "Party Of Five Fares Better Than 'On Our Own'". Chicago Tribune . Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  2. TV Guide Book of Lists . Running Press. 2007. pp.  212. ISBN   978-0-7624-3007-9.
  3. VanDerWerff, Emily (July 22, 2013). "Party Of Five is the great forgotten drama of the '90s". The A.V. Club . Archived from the original on March 27, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  4. TIERNEY BRICKER (September 12, 2019). "25 Shocking Party of Five Secrets Revealed". E! Online.
  5. Johnson, Blanche (July 23, 2017). "James Marsden talks 'Westworld's' success, recalls early days on 'iconic' shows like 'Party of Five'". Fox News. ... not knowing if 'Party of Five' was going to be picked up [...] I went into that, and ‘Party of Five’ had to recast because I was off on another show.
  6. William Keck (May 3, 2000). "It's a Goodbye 'Party' for the Salingers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  7. ATX Festival (April 19, 2013). ATX Festival Q&A: Party of Five (2013). Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  8. 1 2 Tara Aquino (March 22, 2017). "12 Surprising Facts About 'Party of Five'". Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  9. Fear Films (March 20, 2018). Scream Panel With Neve Campbell Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  10. 1 2 "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998. Archived from the original on September 24, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  11. "US – Jahrecharts 1999/2000". May 30, 2002. Archived from the original on March 13, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  12. Party of Five: The Wedding (VHS) (1994). ISBN   0767832582.
  13. Party of Five: The Intervention (VHS) (1994). ISBN   0767832590.
  14. Party of Five: Richer, Poorer, Sickness, and Health (VHS) (1994). ISBN   0767832604.
  15. "Party of Five – The Complete Second Season (1994)" . Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  16. Lambert, David (February 23, 2004). "Party of Five – Season 1 announced, including WINNING Cover Art!". Archived from the original on November 23, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  17. Lambert, David (January 4, 2008). "Invitation to a Party at Last! 3rd Season Set Coming in March, 3rd Season Arrives 2¼ Years After The 2nd Season!". Archived from the original on January 7, 2008. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  18. "Party of Five DVD news: Update about Party of Five – The Complete 4th Season –". Archived from the original on March 8, 2013.
  19. "Party of Five DVD news: Box Art for Party of Five – The Complete 5th Season –". Archived from the original on June 29, 2013.
  20. "Party of Five DVD news: Box Art for Party of Five – The Complete 6th Season –". Archived from the original on September 3, 2013.
  21. "Site News DVD news: Mill Creek Licenses 52 TV Shows from Sony for Low-Cost DVD Release –". Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.
  22. "Party of Five DVD news: Release Date for Party of Five – Season 1 –". Archived from the original on April 22, 2014.
  23. "Party of Five DVD news: Announcement for Party of Five – The Complete 2nd Season (MCE) –". Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
  24. "Party of Five DVD news: Announcement for Party of Five – The Complete Series –". Archived from the original on October 29, 2015.
  25. Wagmeister, Elizabeth (January 9, 2016). "Hulu Inks Multi-Year Licensing Deal with Sony: Acquires 'Dawson's Creek,' 'Party of Five,' More". Variety . Michelle Sobrino. Archived from the original on April 20, 2016. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  26. Otterson, Joe (January 18, 2018). "'Party of Five' Reboot Scores Put Pilot Order at Freeform". Variety. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  27. Andreeva, Nellie (April 17, 2020). "'Party Of Five' Reboot Canceled By Freeform After One Season". Deadline. Retrieved April 20, 2020.

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