A series following four egotistical hipsters living in New York City sounds like an insufferable nightmare, and yet Search Party has defied the odds to become one of the best shows currently on television. Debuting on the often overlooked streaming service All 4 last year with minimal publicity, it’s hardly surprising that this show hasn’t received the attention it deserves. But with both seasons still available to watch for free, there has never been a better time to dive into this refreshing and original dark comedy.
Search Party follows young Dory Sief (Alia Shawkat) who becomes obsessed with finding Chantal Witherbottom, an acquaintance from her college years who goes missing under mysterious circumstances. Her passive boyfriend Drew and narcissistic friends Elliott and Portia are reluctantly dragged along for the ride, and the fantastic chemistry between them is the heart and soul of the show.
What is remarkable about Search Party is its authenticity. Oftentimes, shows about young people reek of desperation and a writing team trying too hard to sound hip and cool. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here. The characters are a sharp satire of the youth of today, portrayed brilliantly by a cast comprised mostly of exciting new talent.
Shawkat earned her stripes on the superb sitcom Arrested Development and maintains the same quick comic timing here, while also proving more than capable of delivering some emotional and dramatic scenes. The supporting cast made up of Meredith Hagner, John Early and John Reynolds are similarly versatile, starting out as somewhat stereotypical archetypes but developing in unexpected and interesting ways over the course of the series.
The first season packs countless twists and turns that set the second season on a completely different path. Throughout both seasons, the show continues to go from strength to strength. Where the first season was a quirky mystery story dripping in satirical humour, the second is more akin to a Hitchcockian psychological thriller that doesn’t lose sight of its comedic roots.
Search Party is a show unlike any other on television. It tells a refreshingly original, stylish and relevant story with a killer cast and a very sharp script. Each episode has a brisk 20-minute runtime which keeps things moving forward at a breakneck pace and makes it hard to resist going back for “just one more episode”. If you’re yet to discover this hidden gem, be sure to rectify that at the earliest opportunity.