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Party Scheduling Gambit
Doesn't even try to hide it.

Somebody, usually our Cool Loser heroine, is throwing a party. Perhaps it's her first "grown up party", maybe it's a fairly major birthday, like her sweet 16th or her "now you're a teen!" 13th. However someone else, usually the Alpha Bitch, has found out about this and scheduled a bigger, better and unsupervised party on the same day and time as the Cool Loser's party.

Of course everyone at school goes to the Alpha Bitch's party, tempted by expensive freebies or a famous band she's somehow managed to wrangle. Leaving our heroine and her few closest, strongest friends, sitting in alone with her parents; surrounded by unused party stuff and miserable. However, something happens at the Alpha Bitch's party, perhaps the party goers don't actually have fun, maybe the police show up and close it down for being too noisy or her parents close it down and ground her for trashing their house.

Everyone heads over to the Cool Loser's house, and end up having a much more fun party. The trope doesn't always follow this format; variations do show up - maybe it is the Cool Loser who schedules a party against the Alpha Bitch's when the Cool Loser isn't invited, for example. It also isn't an exclusively teen trope; versions with adults have been seen, but it shows up a lot in shows aimed at tweens that feature teens.

This trope seems to plague female characters slightly more than males, but not enough to label it as Always Female. See also Start My Own.

This isn't exclusive to partying; whether deliberate or not, any event scheduled to occur at the exact same time as a similar event qualifies as this type of gambit.

Examples:

Film
  • Inverted in Accepted, in which the ones who make the gambit are the sympathetic protagonists, and their party is legitimately far more awesome than that of the dumb frat boys they are screwing over. Even after the frat tries to shut them down, they just party harder.

Live-Action TV
  • Sister Sister does this at one point.
  • Thats So Raven has this happen in one episode. There, due to the scheming of the Alpha Bitch, people turned up the week before the party instead and Raven had the misfortune to be wearing an embarrassing mud mask and her jammies at the time. Her parents were also in spandex workout suits. In the end Raven, Chelsea and Eddie plan to embarrass The Alpha Bitch (Nikki) back, they manage to get her Covered in Gunge (well, hairspray, water and feathers) just before her party, but Raven had a last minute change of heart and decided not to force her to be seen that way by her party goers. Raven still lets the girl leave her house carrying a bouquet of poison ivy.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • Sabrina ends up making a clone of herself to attend one party, and she goes to the cooler one. Because Libby asked her to. Already demonstrated in that episode these clones have brains of pudding. Sabrina got back just too late to stop it and just in time to spin it. That Halloween Sabrina was actually going to the lamer party - a family gathering.
    • It's next year she competes with Libby by throwing a party at her house and it's still not quite played straight, because Sabrina's Masquerade policing is keeping the guests annoyed and/or bored. It's when her efforts fail and everything starts breaking down that the party gets fun (this is Halloween, after all).
  • It happened on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, although this time with The Brainless Beauty who in this case is also the Cool Loser's best friend who doesn't understand the concept of not getting her way. She learns her lesson in the end though and comes to the other party.
  • Frasier is a victim of the adult version of this trope when his nemesis in the apartment upstairs throws a cooler, more fun Christmas party than Frasier and invites everyone in their building. As Frasier's party involves poetry recitals and obscure Christmas carols, everyone chooses to go to the other one - until Martin pulls a few strings with his friends in the police department and gets it shut down because so many people in one apartment is a fire hazard.
  • Friends has this trope reversed a bit. Ross had freshly moved in to his new apartment, and got ostracized by all the other tennents because he didn't feel like giving a large check to help throw a retirement party for the janitor. Eventually, he gets sick of this and decides to throw a party to get everyone to like him. It happens to coincide with the very retirement party he didn't contribute to and even Phoebe, who he invited over, ended up at the janitor's party. Ross was arguably the jerk in this instance, even if you sympathize with his initial decision.
  • The Office—in "A Benihana Christmas" Angela's overbearing unpleasantness as head of the Party Planning Committee lead Karen and Pam to form the Committee for Planning Parties and plan a more fun party. Inverted in that the ones pulling the gambit are the protagonists.
  • The O.C. reverses this by having Kaitlin throw a party on the night of the Alpha Bitch's scheduled Sweet 16 with kegs. Everyone prefers her party.
  • Greendale Community College decided to have a Sadie Hawkins dance. Britta, ever the activist, finds it sexist, and decides to hold a Sophie B. Hawkins dance at the same time. She meant Susan B Anthony, but refused to acknowledge her wrongness, and tried to hire a Sophie B Hawkins look-a-like to attend.

Professional Wrestling
  • Enforced by WWE's Vince McMahon, who scheduled the first Survivor Series PPV on Thanksgiving Night 1987, the same night that the NWA was airing their first PPV Starrcade, and told the PPV companies of the time to choose between Survivor Series and Starrcade. Most chose Survivor Series.

Web Animation
  • Homestar Runner:
    • The cartoon "The Luau" has Strong Bad throwing a marshmallow roast at the same time as Marzipan's luau. The invitations even say "Same time as Marzipan's stupid Luau". Even then, people's attendance had more to do with the fact that they expected Marzipan's to suck (since she's a known Granola girl and willing associate of terminally gloomy bore Strong Sad) than they expected Strong Bad's to be particularly jumpin'.
    • The cartoon provides an unusual variation of this trope with its outcome. Strong Bad can't light the wood because Homestar had apparently urinated on it earlier in the cartoon. Homestar himself gets bored of managing the tofu at Marzipan's luau and attends Strong Bad's roast, but then the Tofu catches fire and everyone ends up running to the Luau by accident simply because they spotted "a fire" where they could roast their marshmallows. Everyone except Strong Bad, who ended up just roasting a marshmallow against a single match stacked on top of his wood pile. Marzipan is oblivious to all of this and thinks they are enjoying the tofu.

Western Animation
  • This happened with Angelica's 13th birthday party and Savannah's party in All Grown Up!!.
  • Also happened on The Proud Family; the Disney Channel is fond of this trope.
  • Hey Arnold! has a near perfect example of "schedule a party against the Alpha Bitch". Arnold is one of the few kids in their class that gets invited to Rhonda's "cool kids" party. Even Gerald doesn't, as Rhonda was worried he'd out-cool her. However her party is dull and Arnold is annoyed that most of his friends haven't been invited. So he leaves and throws an impromptu "geeks party" at his house. Everyone heads there attracted by the more fun atmosphere, eventually Rhonda shows up but she isn't allowed in until she declares herself a "geek" (for that night at least).
  • On The Smurfs, Brainy Smurf throws a "smarty party", but excludes the Smurflings for being too young, so they decide to throw their own party. Eventually, everyone goes to the Smurflings' party after being expelled from Brainy's party for breaking any of the myriad rules he set up.
  • A variation happens in Jem - where Eric Raymond and The Misfits film and premiere a a big-budget movie solely to upstage Jem's indy effort. The Misfit's movie is a dog and the premiere crowd moves en masse to the lower key theater holding Jem's premiere. (A later episode has Jem/Jerrica nominated for an Oscar for her effort.)
  • Daria: Quinn gets roped into planning the school dance by Sandi, who then throws her own party, which turns out to be lame. Subverted in that Quinn is the more popular of the two; double subverted in that, once she realises the rest of the Fashion Club won't help her, Quinn foists planning off onto Daria and Jane.
  • Pucca: Ring Ring held a party and invited everyone except for Pucca, who instead got a note stating she wasn't invited and that Ring Ring so wanted her not to show up she'd not even tell the day of the party. Ring Ring also told Pucca not to wear the same dress as her during the party. Pucca and the chefs then held a party at the Goh Rong. Pucca invited everyone. That included Ring Ring but she didn't open the letter, assuming it was fan mail. Both parties were held at the same day and nobody showed up at Ring Ring's (other than the vagabonds but they just ate and left). After several attempts to ruin Pucca's party, Ring Ring finally read her invitation and learned Pucca wanted Ring Ring to tell the day of her party to avoid helding hers the same day.

Real Life
  • Example straight from Fulton, Mississippi, with one slight variation: It's the parents who planned it to ostracize seven kids and deny them their Prom.

Paranoia GambitGambit IndexPoison and Cure Gambit
Parental FavoritismNarrative DevicesPassed Over Promotion
Party GameParty at My IndexPersona Non Grata
Odd Name OutImageSource/InternetRed Boxing Gloves

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