Review by Sean Boelman
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have solidified themselves as two of the most reliable names in comedy, and their newest work, the murder mystery series The Afterparty, is yet another riotous addition to their filmography. More 21 Jump Street than The LEGO Movie, this series works great both as a parody of modern whodunits and a great twisty mystery in and of itself.
The show follows a group of people at a high school reunion afterparty when they all become suspects for murder when one of their former classmates, a popstar with an iffy past with many of them, is killed. Miller takes the reins on this one, with Lord being an executive producer and occasional co-writer on the series, but he doesn’t lose his touch without his partner being as actively involved.
It’s a pretty basic premise, but the thing that allows this series to stand out is its unique presentation. Each episode tells the story from the perspective of a different character, adding new details every time. However, with this comes the fact that some episodes are much stronger than others.
There are some episodes which go a bit darker with the humor, and others which are on the goofier, more wholesome side. However, this has always been the case with Lord and Miller’s style, and that lends itself quite well to a serial format. There are many gut-busting laughs throughout, including some that come from subtle easter eggs and references.
Part of what makes the series work so well is that all of the characters are pretty likable. Obviously, there are rivalries that will switch who the audience is sided with at any given time, but each character’s individual episode does a good job of making the viewer like its protagonist. The only somewhat underwhelming characters are the detectives, but the suspects are so well-written that it doesn’t matter.
The ensemble of this show is absolutely stacked. Sam Richardson (who, interestingly enough, also played the protagonist in last year’s lovable whodunit Werewolves Within) is as charming as always as the lead. And the rest of the cast is filled out by great turns from Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz, John Early, Ilana Glazer, and more.
Much of the show takes place within the main house, with the exception of some of the flashbacks, and the series does a great job of using the space. There are also some ambitious swings that Miller takes in terms of execution, and while a few (like Zoe’s episode) don’t pay off, others have hilarious results.
The Afterparty is exactly what fans should want from a mystery comedy from Lord and Miller. It’s very funny, and keeps you guessing, which is more than can be said about a lot of series that come out these days.
The Afterparty streams on Apple TV+ beginning on January 25.