Imagine four of the most self-centered New York millennials you’ve ever met. Now make them even more self-centered than that (self-centered enough to lie about having cancer as a child so people will sympathize with their nonexistent struggle). Now imagine these people are thrown into a search for a missing person, full of mystery, deceit and maybe even murder.
Intrigued? You should probably start watching Search Party.
Search Party season two premiered on TBS earlier this month. The network is releasing two episodes per week, and already the plot has thickened dramatically since season one’s conclusion. In its sophomore season, the dark comedy is proving a standout, not only in its genre, but also on TV in general.
The show follows Dory Sief (Alia Shawkat) a bored 20-something New Yorker who, upon seeing a poster advertising the disappearance of her college acquaintance, throws herself headfirst into the case. She drags along her friends Elliott (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner) as well as her boyfriend Drew (John Reynolds). Together, the clueless detectives attempt to solve the case, some more begrudgingly than others. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say they find themselves in much deeper water than ever intended.
Central to the show’s success is its ability to perfectly toe the line between genuine suspense and surprising hilarity. The situations presented in each episode are overwhelmingly dark, but they are juxtaposed by some of the most colorful, complex and well-written characters. While attending a vigil for the missing girl, Elliott can’t help but critique the tone-deafness of a somber a cappella choir’s performance. While trying to illegally sneak past Canadian border patrol, Portia, a C-list network actress, is overjoyed that the border agent wants a selfie.
Every actor is perfectly cast, a standout being Early, who, as Elliott, provides much of the show’s comic relief. Early is genius when it comes to playing narcissism, and this part seems almost tailor-made for his acting strengths. Shawkat is a successful lead, giving generous emotional depth to a character who, in other hands, could easily be passed off as simply naïve.
Search Party is as aesthetically pleasing as it is intriguing and funny. Plus, the soundtrack is a treasure trove of lowkey bangers begging to be Shazammed. The opening song, “Obedear” by Canadian duo Purity Ring, with its electronic lilting melody, will be stuck in your head for days.
With each episode running a little under 30 minutes, Search Party is an easily bingeable mystery that will keep you guessing, and laughing, through every minute.