Created By: MartyD82 on February 4, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on November 20, 2014

Stuffy Adult Party

A ridiculously formal and bland party held by a group of jaded and uncool adults.

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Trope
In a typical Sitcom, just as teenagers have the Wild Teen Party, adults have the Stuffy Adult Party. This is essentially the most boring and needlessly dressy (usually dinner) party imaginable. At such a party, you can usually expect to see:

  1. Everybody dressed in a suit and tie, as if they were going to a fancy restaurant or funeral.
  2. Smarmy fiddle or piano music in the background.
  3. Nary a single drop of alcohol.
  4. Everybody behaving in the most responsible and "mature" manner possible. This includes the most perfectly-appropriate discussion topics imaginable and zero conflict between the party's guests.
  5. In some instances, the monotony will be broken up with perfectly clean and safe jokes among the guests.

This trope is especially common in sitcoms aimed at kids or teens. In many instances, the adults will attend this kind of party while the kids throw a Wild Teen Party. Generally, this is done to create an obvious contrast between the two plots and lead into the inevitable conclusion, where the adults come home from their "boring" party and are immediately shocked to find their home completely trashed.


Examples

Commercials
  • A 1995 commercial for Hi-C plays this straight in its depiction of "an adult's idea of a party."

Film
  • Averted in Superbad, where the adult party Seth and Evan briefly attend turns out to be much more wild and raunchy than the Wild Teen Party they're supposed to attend.

Live-Action TV
  • Family Matters has done this on many occasions. Most notably, in the episode where the perfectly-groomed Carl, Harriet and Estelle attend a relative's 40th birthday, leaving Eddie, Laura and Judy alone for the night. Eddie's friend Rodney comes over, and a Wild Teen Party gradually breaks out.
  • Freaks and Geeks has this in the episode "Noshing And Moshing", where the Weirs attend Neil's dad's annual dinner party (with the Freaks at a wild punk club being the obvious contrast). Needless to say, the only thing Lindsay finds even remotely interesting about it is the presence of Neil's Cool Loser brother Barry. In an ironic twist, the Weir parents themselves are bored to tears by the party.
  • Girls mocks this trope by having an episode where Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna attend a wild (mostly young adult) party, only for Jessa's jaded middle aged boyfriend Jeff to come with bottle of wine in hand, under the assumption that it's this kind of party.
  • My So-Called Life
    • The show has this in an episode where Angela ditches a dull family get-together for Rayanne's Wild Teen Party. Lampshaded when Patti visits the unconscious-from-overdose Rayanne in the hospital and openly admits that her party is incredibly boring.
    • Averted, however, in the episode where Patti, Graham and Neil attend a getaway at a ski resort. The party results in Patti getting ridiculously drunk. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Literally subverted in the Friends episode The One Where The Stripper Cries. Monica and Rachel attempt to throw such a bachelorette party for Phoebe. Phoebe is bored and demands a stripper. So they get one, and Hilarity Ensues.

Western Animation
  • Rugrats actually subverts this in a few episodes. For example, the episode where Charlotte throws a costume party for the neighborhood. It ends with a big fight between Stu and Drew (resulting in Stu being arrested for attempting to "break back into" the house). And there's an obnoxious Man Child guest who dresses like a baby and winds up creeping everybody out. Also subverted in the episode where Randy Carmichael's boss comes over for a dinner party. The party ends in a wild food fight between the adults.

Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • February 4, 2013
    Desertopa
    I think that Stuffy Adult Party would make a better contrast with Wild Teen Party than Formal Adult Part.
  • February 4, 2013
    MartyD82
    I agree. I just changed the title.
  • February 4, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I vote Stuffy Grown Up Party, since I think it conveys that this is primarily meant to be shown from the kids' perspective.

    But that's just me.

    • In "Okay Awesome," a Season 1 episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and Lily choose to be more "adult" and try to throw one of these. Despite being a wine-tasting party, the wine isn't even served until "the tannins are mellowed." Eventually both hosts ditch the party to join their friends at a club.
  • February 4, 2013
    McKathlin
    The following example highlights a class contrast rather than an age contrast in how people party, but I think that Tropes Are Flexible enough that it might fit.
    • The horse race in My Fair Lady is a Stuffy Upper-Class Party: all the guests stand stock-still and straight-faced, singing in restrained staccato about how excited they are to be there. This contrasts with the lively carousing that Eliza is used to seeing her low-class father take part in.
  • February 4, 2013
    MartyD82
    That works, too. As does, perhaps, the Friends episode The One With Two Parties. Monica tries to throw one of these... and fails miserably.
  • February 5, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the Marx Brothers film A Night At The Opera on the cruise ship coming to the US we see a straightlaced party in First Class and a racous carouse (as far as the Hays Code would let them anyway) in steerage. Does That Count?
  • February 5, 2013
    Rainbow
    This is probably more similar to the My Fair Lady example, but in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Pinkie Pie is disappointed that the Grand Galloping Gala is a very formal, subdued event and not the kind of bouncy party she's more used to, which is more akin to a typical child's birthday party (as seen in her Imagine Spot in The Ticket Master where she thinks they will have games like "pin the tail on the pony").
  • February 5, 2013
    MartyD82
    A Night At The Opera definitely counts. It would also fall under Older Than They Think (since most people probably think this trope is newer than it actually is).

    I'm pretty sure The Brady Bunch and Full House had used this trope. And IIRC Beverly Hills 90210 did too.
  • July 24, 2013
    Prfnoff
    YKTTW Bump. I vaguely recall a Theatre example, but I don't remember enough details to give it a proper write-up.
  • July 24, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • In Reaper Man, Windle Poons' death party is a very forced affair thrown by wizards who have "seen each other all day and now are going to see each other all evening."
  • November 16, 2014
    NESBoy
    In the episode of Disney's Doug titled "Doug Grows Up", Doug, presently suffering a crisis of maturity for being a Bluffscout, attends Roger's housewarming party, which only allows sophisticated people. He's the only person who bothered to attend the party, and he says he felt mature because he wasn't having any fun.
  • November 17, 2014
    Arivne
    • Changed ** to # to create a numbered list.
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Sorted examples by media and added media section titles.
      • Put a song/short story/episode title in quotes instead of italics as per Welcome To TV Tropes - Editing Articles.
      • Corrected improper Example Indentation in the My So Called Life examples.
  • November 17, 2014
    TonyG
    • On The Simpsons, Marge is often attending or throwing such a party, which is then ruined by Homer's drunken antics.
    • Bob and Linda once attended a wine tasting party on a train in Bobs Burgers. Bob found it boring and pretentious. Meanwhile, the kids are confined at the "juice caboose" and not allowed to enjoy the buffet, which includes a chocolate fountain, so they plan a Train Job to steal the chocolate from the kitchen.
    • Sponge Bob Square Pants intends to thrown one in the episode "Party Pooper Pants", giving conversation topic cards to his guests and keeping things from going too wild. Things only get fun after SpongeBob accidentally locks himself out and is not around to order the guests around.
    • On the Futurama episode "Fun on a Bun", Fry is disappointed to find that Octoberfest in the 31st Century has become a stuffy, dignified event instead of the "barfapalooza" he remembered back in the 20th Century.
  • November 17, 2014
    Rainbow
    In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Inspiration Manifestation," Rarity turns a foal's birthday party into this type of party because she is on a magically-induced rampage of making everything fancier and more glamorous, even replacing the mariachi band with a group of elegant classical musicians that includes fan-favorite background pony Octavia.
  • November 17, 2014
    Illemar
    Brooklyn Nine Nine has an episode where the detectives are invited to Captain Holt's birthday party and don't know how to behave as the invitees are mostly upper-class. Jeffords literally has to order them to focus on certain strengths of theirs in order not to embarrass their captain.
  • November 17, 2014
    Larkmarn
    • How I Met Your Mother: Ted drags the rest of the gang to a formal party filled with people who support the arts and theater. The gang just winds up bored out of their mind while Ted thrives. They leave early, and Ted stays until he gets a text from his friends who are at a robots vs. wrestlers show.
  • November 17, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Advertising
    • Such a stodgy, lifeless party occurs in a Silly String television ad from The Sixties. Nobody is smiling, and there's almost no movement. One guest mentions the Boer War as a Stealth Pun about the party being a competition to bore everyone else into submission. Once cans of Silly String are introduced, the guests come to life and there's smiles all around.
  • November 18, 2014
    Chabal2
    The sequel to the French Three Men And A Baby had the adults go to a cello recital, while a Cool Old Lady takes the younger characters to a Wild Teen Party with loud music and dancing.
  • November 18, 2014
    Duncan
    • In The Hollywood Knights, the Beverly Hills Residents' Association's stuffy party is crashed by the protagonists.
  • November 18, 2014
    Chabal2
    Tangential examples that are more "Adults have forgotten how to have fun":
    • Calvin And Hobbes: when Calvin says he wants to stay up late and have fun like adults do, cut to his parents snoring on the couch.
    • Zits has a strip where Walt asks Jeremy if he wants to go to the dentist conference with him. Jeremy looks to his mom for translation, who describes it as a bunch of guys Walt's age telling spitoon jokes. Jeremy passes.
    • One Foxtrot New Year's strip has Andy and Roger counting down, throwing confetti... and immediately yawning and heading to bed. When Peter protests that it's only 9 o'clock, he gets told it's midnight somewhere.
  • November 18, 2014
    SharleeD
    Stuffy Grown Up Party is better, because "Adult Party" can have raunchy overtones that run counter to the image this trope presents.
  • November 19, 2014
    AgProv
    in Diary Of A Mad Housewife, what "mad housewife" Carrie Snodgress hopes will be her first sophisticated dinner party degenerates into this sort of disaster. Her guests stay on out of embarrassed pity.
  • November 19, 2014
    AgProv
    Theatre:
    • The whole Abigails Party thing, a black comedy of 1970's suburban British aspiration, pretention and manners. The insufferable Abigail hosts a dinner party wanting everything to be right. But it isn't...
  • November 20, 2014
    Gergich42
    • In Parks And Recreation, Ann hosted a Halloween party that turned out this way, at least until Tom arrives.
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