TBS’s ‘Search Party’ show rated average

Craig Watkins, Crier Staff

Long has TBS been a network dedicated to sitcom reruns and bordering nonsensical original programming, but everything changes with their new series Search Party, a black comedy with strengths in storytelling over humor.

Search Party follows Dory (Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat), a woman in her late 20s who stumbles upon a missing person flier for a girl she once encountered in college. When her close friends dismiss the disappearance, Dory wonders if anyone would care if she herself went missing and takes up the task of bringing the lost girl home. The goal becomes an obsession as Dory focuses on living out a detective fantasy over solving the problems that already exist in her own life and the lives of her friends.

Though the story is a serious and often dark one, the show is frequently funny. The four lead characters, played by Shawkat, John Reynolds, John Early, and Meredith Hagner, all have memorable moments with Early’s Elliott providing many of the series’ best lines. It is the millennials’ selfishness that makes them so entertaining, even if it means they take some warming-up to like.

The four are compelling because they are all so imperfect. Even with justification to forgive some of their actions, it is impossible to like every single one of a given character’s traits. This goes both ways as your least favorite character can quickly win you over and your favorite can do something for which you never forgive them. The characters only mature a little bit by the end of the season, but this leaves room for further development if the series continues.

However, the real fun in watching the show is delivered by the suspects and side characters that the group encounters.

That divide between unexpected quirkiness and real-world grounding is Search Party’s outstanding flaw, though it is one that the show requires to function as a comedy.

Stylistically, the show glimmers with all things 2016. One episode at a vigil shows attendees wearing buttons reading “#I AM CHANTAL,” which while eye roll-inducing is exactly the kind of thing that would really happen. Characters frequently take their phones out mid-conversation and, when the story permits it, their phone activities are overlaid onto parts of the screen without interrupting the action. However, this reliance does get tiring when the group is placed in danger for the second time by simply not putting a phone on silent.

Search Party is an example of something that is not quite equal to the sum of its parts. The comedy, setting, story, and especially characters are beautifully crafted, yet they often conflict with each other and make the whole experience just as confusing as it is entertaining. The season finale does some work to remedy this flaw, but it more importantly sets the series on a very adult path that could become something greater in the future. Ironically, the dark direction the series has taken indicates a bright future for TBS.

As a great comedy show and a great drama show mixed into one less than perfect (yet still worthwhile) show, Search Party gets a 7.5/10. Dory’s search for her and Chantal’s place in the world is riveting, but she seems to be searching in the wrong world entirely.