Review by Sean Boelman
The Afterparty was a fan-favorite with its first season, a great blend of mystery and comedy that kept viewers guessing while laughing the whole time. Season two of The Afterparty is another strong entry in the mystery-comedy series — with some aspects that improve upon its predecessor and others that stay at a consistent level.
The show follows last season’s protagonists, Aniq (Sam Richardson) and Zoe (Zoë Chao), as they find themselves caught up in another crime scene, having to investigate a murder at a family wedding. Apart from the contrivances associated with these characters getting involved in another murder, it’s another wacky, fun adventure.
This time around, the show leans even more heavily into its style, each episode having a distinct stylistic approach. The only repeat — at least in the nine episodes screened for press — is the romantic comedy style for Richardson’s returning character. Other styles added to the mix include film noir, steamy erotic thriller, heist movie, and more.
The cast — while not necessarily a step up from the first season’s — contains plenty more recognizable A-listers. The best new addition is Jack Whitehall, whose performance is probably the funniest of the bunch. Paul Walter Hauser is also funny, but too often feels like the butt of the joke. John Cho gets some funny moments too, as does Ken Jeong, but they don’t shine as much as Whitehall.
That said, the fundamental flaw of this season is that — beyond the returning characters — there’s really no one for the audience to root for. The closest character to character to being likable is Hauser’s oaf, who is lovable at times, but he also makes some really creepy decisions that aren’t entirely support-worthy.
Even with the returning characters, their emotional connection to the story feels weak. Although Aniq and Zoe’s relationship lingers over the entire conflict, it feels like an afterthought. And the arc for Detective Daner (Tiffany Haddish), while often hilarious — particularly during her solo episode — feels shoehorned in as an excuse to bring Haddish back.
However, what this season excels at most is creating a truly unpredictable mystery. Through the ninth episode, it’s nearly impossible to predict who the killer is, with the first season having been much easier to create theories. Very few whodunnits are able to be as utterly stumping as this, so that is an impressive feat.
The Afterparty delivers another entertaining — and arguably more tightly-written mystery — even if the list of suspects isn’t as compelling as it was the first time around. It’s a “more of the same” type of second season, rather than a “bigger and better” one, but fans will hardly complain about that.
The Afterparty streams on Apple TV+ beginning July 12. Nine out of ten episodes reviewed.