Showrunners: Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter
The first season of dark comedy series Search Party ended in such a way that it didn’t need a second season if it failed to be renewed. If you haven’t had the chance to watch it, turn back now, binge all of the ten episodes of Dory (Alia Shawkat) and her friends stumbling their way through a missing person case, and come back when you’re done as this review has significant spoilers for the first season. Fortunately, for fans, the second season of Search Party comes roaring back to deal with the consequences of the first. The major one being the accidental death of private detective Keith (Ron Livingston) and what to do with the body now that Dory and her friends have actually committed a crime. Juggling the death and trying to keep bratty rich girl Chantal (Clare McNulty) from discovering their crime, Dory and her friends find their guilt closing in on them as they can’t quite shake off the crime.
Even though Keith’s body has been buried, Chantal returned to her family, and a cover story was set to protect the group, Dory and her friends are finding that their previous, superficial lives cannot hide their remorse. Agonised, Dory starts to hallucinate Keith’s presence everywhere, including her new work as a political campaigner, and cannot seem to stay away from further incriminating events such as attending Keith’s wake.
This is quite the departure from the relatively lighter first season, and it is an appropriate and welcome change as Dory finds her friends abandoning her. The show revels in hammering the notion that real life is not nearly as neat and tidy as we want it to be, the collapse of Dory’s friends into paranoia and hatred of one another focused around Dory’s original selfishness of wanting to find Chantal in the first place. Vulnerable and fragile, the vapid daytime television actress Portia (Meredith Hagner) is preyed upon by theatre director Elijah (Jay Duplass), while compulsive liar Elliot (John Early) goes into a breakdown and has to be put into a mental health facility. Drew wants nothing to do with Dory, as she cheated on him with Keith, and they’re all ready to turn on her if not for the fact that they have already incriminated themselves as accessories to murder.
This season is tighter than the first, and by digging into the group’s guilt the show tests the character’s moral limits as they go to further and more drastic lengths to remain out of the hands of the police. While the first season presented them as listless, self-absorbed, twenty-somethings trying to do anything to add perceived moral value to their lives, the second season demonstrates that even the best of intentions can go horribly wrong. All Dory wanted was to find Chantal—a woman she barely knew—but ended up investigating a baby-making cult, being entangled in the delusions of a fake real estate agent, and cheating on her boyfriend with Keith.
The show also hits a visual stride, taking influence from neo-noir and Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. Dory’s misery of her own making is perfectly encapsulated in a particular red dress and victory curls as she moves through formal events like a tortured protagonist straight from Vertigo (Hitchcock 1958). However, the second season is not without a few problems. For instance, Detective Joy (Tymberlee Hill) fails to connect any of the incredibly obvious pieces of evidence while investigating Keith’s death. Even when she knows there is something amiss, she doesn’t head for the CCTV footage, instead of dragging two steps behind Dory’s group.
On the whole, Search Party season two is an excellent follow-up to the first and combines neo-noir with that particular brand of millennial humour that makes watching these characters so fascinating. While I wouldn’t want to have to deal with them on a daily basis, I’m glad I got to come along for the ride, and am eagerly anticipating the third season.