‘Search Party’ could be the millennial’s answer to the Scooby-Doo gang but don’t get me wrong, this is far from hi jinks and cartoon dogs. Also, this is a spoiler-free review.
The show follows four self-absorbed 20-somethings in modern day Brooklyn who discover that their college friend Chantal has gone missing. When Dory, played by Alia Shawkat (otherwise known as Maeby in Arrested Development), recognises someone who looks very familiar to Chantal, she all of a sudden becomes very interested in solving the mystery herself.
The show is dark, hilarious at times, and very addictive. The series is relatively short, running at 10 episodes at around 20 minutes each. You’ll be able to get through all the episodes in one sitting if you feel so inclined.
It’s safe to say this show won’t be to everyone’s liking. As the show unravels, you’ll either be keen to stick with it or you’ll have given up and switched off. It’s been compared as a hybrid between ‘True Detective’ and ‘Girls’. I’ve never seen True Detective but I can see the comparisons between ‘Girls’ – particularly when it comes to the characters.
The main characters are not those who you would ideally like to be friends with. They’re flawed and, on many occasions, frustrating. Dory, in particular is the worst culprit of this. She has so little going on in her life that she becomes intrusively obsessive in her nature to solve this mystery – all at the potential expense of her friends and relationship. It’s very baffling when you consider the fact that she hasn’t seen Chantal for a good few years, and they were hardly ever BFF’s.
Whilst it’s confusing to understand why she’s all of a sudden interested in her whereabouts, it’s also very plausible. These days, people on social media are so concerned with “showing face” and that sense of seeking attention is very familiar on newsfeeds. In fact, two of Dory’s friends Elliot (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner) are all about this – there are the definition of narcissistic and self-absorbed. There are countless scenes when they’re pretending to forge an interest merely for face value.
Whilst Dory’s boyfriend Drew, played by John Reynolds, may come across as a bit of a wet fish, he actually feels the most endearing character to me. Yes, he may be a bit of a weakling who struggles to stand up for himself but when you have to put up with Dory’s BS on a regular occurrence, I guess things become a bit exhausting and you just give up a little bit inside.
The Scooby-Doo mystery solving antics are quite exciting to watch and it’s refreshing to see it played out so differently. There’s never a draught of crime and mystery shows out there, so it’s great to see the rule book torn up a little. Creators Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter have managed to create something fun, dark and highly enjoyable. Also, major props to the music department – the soundtrack is impeccable and Purity Ring’s Obedear plays as theme music.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely. Whilst I’ve mentioned how the characters are flawed and frustrating, that’s what makes them relatable. They’re human, and aren’t we all a bit like that anyway? I was instantly drawn in by the quick wit and the incessant need to know WTF is going on (perhaps I’m more like Dory than I thought!). However, like I say, it’s a Marmite kind of show – you will either like it or you won’t.
You’ll be kept guessing all the way to the end. I’m not going to spoil anything here but even the ending will probably cause a bit of a divide in opinion. Give it a go and let me know your thoughts – it would be great to hear whether you enjoyed the show.
‘Search Party’ aired on TBS in America and is currently available to watch on All4 (Channel 4’s streaming service) right now in the UK.