Lost in the Reel’s non-spoiler video review of The Afterparty.

As far as comedies go, we have experienced a dry spell as of late. It seems like there haven’t been any original mainstream comedies to come out in the theaters that have made a mark. Comedy on television hasn’t fared much better.  Last year there were a few surprises like Hacks, The Other Two, and Only Murders in the Building to tide over our insatiable appetites for laughs. Luckily, we don’t have to wait any longer… Because 2022 is already delivering a slam-dunk comedic farce, with Apple TV+’s The Afterparty.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have done it again! (It should be noted that Miller is the brainchild here, while Lord takes some writing credit). They have provided us a series with a concept that feels familiar but crafted in surprising, creative, and ingenious ways.  In that manner, The After Party reminds me of the hidden gem Game Night with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams… which is probably one of my favorite comedies of the last decade.  So, yes… this one’s a winner.  



The After Party is a Rashomon-style whodunnit that follows a group of friends attending a high school reunion.  Xavier, one of their old classmates who used to be an outcast but is now a celebrity, invites them all over to his seaside mansion for an afterparty.  However, the fun and games end when Xavier is found murdered on the beach… and all of the party guests (and high-school friends) are the suspects.  Enter Detective Danner, who sits them each down one by one to get the story from their perspectives… Which all vary in crazy and hilarious ways.  And the detective must piece together each story to figure out the deadly truth of who killed Xavier.



Like I said prior, this whole formula of “a high school reunion that ends in murder and it’s the friends who are the suspects” has been done too many times to count.  But, it has never been done like in The Afterparty.  Leave it to this creative duo to take a tired formula and turn it entirely on its head with such a wildly imaginative approach.  Detective Danner asks each of the suspects to tell their side of the story like they are explaining the plot of a film. 

So, each episode is set up to get the perspective of the said suspect but played out in a different movie genre or medium.  Whether it be Ike Barinholtz’ Brett, who is the bad-boy turned father in a failing marriage whose story plays out like it’s an action film ala The Fast and the Furious.  Or there is lovestruck Aniq who is vying for another chance with his high-school crush, whose account of what happened, is given the romantic comedy treatment.

This structure allows Christopher Miller and his writing team to get creative.  Not only does every episode feel unique and special, but they are able to not only celebrate these beloved genres but also satirize them in uproarious ways.  And while the first four episodes pretty much stick to the overall concept to a tee, this worried me a bit for the show’s potential longevity… In episode 5, Miller throws a wrench in the formula. He has created and proves that he has more left up his sleeve.  And while I never want to give away any spoilers, I must say that he continues to defy his audience’s expectations in each episode after that.



Now, let’s get to this cast… because this is probably one of my favorite ensembles for a television show I have seen in quite a while.  The Afterparty is full of up-and-coming comedic performers like Ilana Glazer from Broad City fame, Sam Richardson from Werewolves Within and HBO’s Veep, there’s Ben Schwartz from Parks and Recreation and who also is the voice of Sonic in the new movies, Zoe Chao from HBO Max’s highly underrated Love Life, John Early who shined in Search Party, as well as Jamie Demetriou who stars in the popular U.K. series Stath Lets Flats.  There’s also Tiffany Haddish, Dave Franco, and Ike Barinholtz who round out this whose-who of casts.  

And while I would love to spend the rest of this review name-dropping and fawning over how great these actors are, I will say this.  The Afterparty allows nearly all of these performers to get their time to shine. Their chemistry with one another is spot-on.  It certainly helps that a lot of the cast and crew have worked with each other on different projects before.  Unfortunately, a few supporting players don’t get much screen time, which is due to the very constrictive (And in my opinion, too short) eight-episode run of the season… something I will go over in a second. 

If I were to highlight any actor, it would have to be Jamie Demetriou, who I was completely unfamiliar with until watching this series.  His awkward, bumbling, but sincere performance immediately made me want to check out his prior work from the U.K.


However, there are some things about The Afterparty that do knock it down a few notches for me.  But, nothing in which a second season couldn’t wholly mend.  Also, keep in mind that critics were only screened seven out of the eight episodes… So we are also left in the dark about who the killer is until it premieres… but, I can tell from what I’ve seen that these eight episodes are not enough.  With only 30-35 minute runtimes for each episode, the season quickly comes and goes. But when it was done, I immediately wanted more. 

There are so many intriguing characters introduced that there is not enough time to get invested in most of them.  And with the set-up of a revolving door of genres and the story jumping from one perspective to another constantly…you’re left yearning for The Afterparty to take a second to breathe. So, you can further enjoy and soak in the festivities.  



Finally, I don’t think the murder mystery in this show is all that involving.  I was left more on the edge-of-my-seat, wondering what the next genre being satirized was going to be… Then the actual mystery of who the killer was.  Which I’m sure is not what the creators were intending.  I can’t see the final episode or the inevitable reveal making up for how little the case has gripped me so far. This is also an issue that the aforementioned Only Murders in the Building also struggled from.  But, just as in that show, although The Afterparty is centered around its core mystery, it’s more of a plot device. For its actors and writers to have a blast, creating characters and situations that are entertaining as hell for audiences.  And in that, this series succeeds in so many ways.

The first 3 episodes of The Afterparty premiere on Apple TV+ on January 28th, 2022.

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