"Search Party" Is The Millennial-Focused Show You Need RIght Now

"Search Party" Is The Millennial-Focused Show You Need RIght Now

Larry Fitzmaurice

The winding series—which is now on HBO Max—is one of the era's most subtle and rewarding shows

What sounds worse than "a TV show with generational appeal"? Countless programs in the last decade have promised to capture a level of essence as to the millennial generation's highs and lows. These shows aim to reflect an age set's struggles and ecstasies to an audience that's––more often than not––excessively familiar with the tropes these shows present. Some of these shows were successful when they aired, a few even critically and commercially beloved; almost all of them treat their subjects with uncanny reverence, suggesting that millennials—as beleaguered as they undoubtedly have been—are largely above reproach.

This is where Search Party comes in. The show, toplined by millennial totem Alia Shawkat's performance as the selfish, often desperate Dory, puts millennials in its crosshairs in nearly every frame, offering withering critiques of every generational tic even in rare moments of elicited sympathy. If show creators Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers' approach here sounds exhausting on first contact, fear not: they've leavened their acerbic and unforgiving wit with heavy doses of genre.

This is a show where dipping into general plot might give too much away, so a brief outline: the first season's starting point is Dory and her friends trying to find a missing college classmate, taking on the shape of detective noir. Season two shockingly switches gears to resemble the paranoia-drenched atmosphere of psychological thrillers, while the third season takes another left turn into courtroom drama territory. Playing with one genre convention can often pose risks and limitations, never mind attempting to pull it off for three successive seasons—but Bliss and Rogers have done just that, resulting in one of the most nail-biting TV series in recent memory.

As expected with a show that takes aim at so many aspects of young peoples' modern lives, Search Party's characters are hard to love in the traditional sense. But it's a joy to watch them walk into myriad rakes regardless, and that's undoubtedly owed to the performances behind these characters. As Dory's on-again-off-again boyfriend Drew, John Reynolds (who you may have caught in Hulu's recent and abysmal Four Weddings and a Funeral limited series-remake) hits the perfect level of aloofness as he stumbles into one poorly planned situation after the next; John Early's Elliott Goss is wild-eyed in his self-centered contemptuousness, while Meredith Hagner plays Portia Davenport with just enough drifting concern to embody someone who, like many in the millennial set, is truly lost in the world.

Speaking of lost: where do you find the thing so you can watch it? Search Party itself has taken a micro-journey from network to network that, fittingly, isn't too different from the constant changes in employment that the generation it zeroes in on has faced over the last 15 years. Its first two seasons aired on TBS, effectively a diamond in the network's otherwise dismal sitcom rough; after getting renewed for a third season in early 2018, the show's since moved to HBO's new streaming system HBO Max, with the third season arriving on the streaming platform in full on June 25.

This is a half-hour comedy, so you presumably have plenty of time between when you're reading this and the new season's premiere date to catch up—but, if I can make a humble suggestion, try watching the first two seasons in one weekend-long burst (really, you can complete them in a day if you don't have anything to do). Between wincing at its most awkward moments and bracing yourself for what comes next, you might find yourself with no other choice anyway.

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