Over the past week there's been some chatter about TBS's new series Search Party, but you can't help but think there would be more if it were a Netflix, Amazon or HBO series with a serious PR-push behind it. (Remember how many Good Girls Revolt ads we recently saw on the streets?) Turns out they didn't really need it, though, as the show has gotten the hype on its own.
The series (and the source of its satirical commentary) revolves around a group of "self-absorbed twenty-somethings" living in New York City (just what we need!). But the reason we're all here is that Chantal Witherbottom has gone missing. This is the peg used to bring you into the world of Dory (spectacularly played by Alia Shawkat), where you'll meet her boyfriend Drew (John Reynolds), and her closest friends, Elliott (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner). Witherbottom is an old classmate of Dory, who becomes obsessed with trying to find her despite never really having been very close to her. Almost everything these characters do is about them and them alone, which is very apparent from the get-go—in the first episode Dory asks, "Would anyone even care if something happened to me?"
Part of the reason the show (which was written by Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter) succeeds is that the world that's been created is so sturdy—the characters are really in New York, so the scenes aren't exclusively showing them in their apartments and on the same stretch of sidewalk. They roam into other worlds beyond their own several times per episode, expanding their universe and adding layers to the story as well as themselves. You get introduced to a number of fairly authentic people, keeping the show anchored in reality, even if it's essentially just a light take on modern life in Youthful Brooklyn that the creators could have easily taken into the absurd (I am happy they didn't).
Some of the bigger (and most welcome) cameos include Parker Posey and Ron Livingston, the former playing a perfect-for-her role as a cult leader/jewelry store owner in Red Hook, and the latter a sort of down and out Private Investigator. It may be the non-millennial in me speaking, but these two kept me watching when I was ready to tune out.
While it is a nearly-perfect snapshot of millennial culture, it also has to hold up as a missing girl mystery show. On that front, it's just okay: it's got the feel of a YA novel, and is served in 30-minute doses, never really gripping you but also never compelling you to press stop as the next episode starts to play. It's certainly not a suspenseful weekly hour-long drama a la The Night Of, so if you're looking to be scared or drawn in to a darker world, it won't be for you.
Bliss, who also wrote Fort Tilden, said in a recent interview, "As we were pitching it to people, we’d say it was 'Like it’d be like if the girls from Fort Tilden were trying to solve a crime.'" And yeah, it's just like that.