The Afterparty

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Tiffany Haddish in The Afterparty.
Tiffany Haddish in The Afterparty.
Photo: AppleTV+


The Afterparty




4/5 Stars


After an afterparty of a 15-year high school reunion, a body is found and the attendees are questioned to find out what they remember about the fateful night.


Like any good afterparty, Apple TV's The Afterparty is a lot of fun. The genre-bending comedy imagines a murder from eight different perspectives and tells an interesting tale about nostalgia, dealing with the loss of a dream and how each person's narrative might tell a different story to another, and how that sometimes harms the people around you.

The story begins at the 15-year reunion of the class of 2006 at a California high school; escape room-designer Aniq (Sam Richardson) is there to get another shot at love with his high school crush Zoë (Zoë Chao). This year is also glitzier than most because one of their classmates Xavier (Dave Franco), who became a pop star and actor, is attending. But at the afterparty for the reunion, a murder occurs, and Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) is brought in to solve the case. Danner's way of working is that she listens to everyone's narratives of what happened through the course of the evening, their own 'mind movie', and every episode follows a different character's telling of the event.

To add to the narrative journey that we are on, every story is told in a different film and TV genre. For example, Aniq's repeated attempts to get Zoë alone to tell her how he feels seems like it was taken straight out of a romantic comedy. School bully and Zoë's ex-husband Brett's (Ike Barinholtz)version of the night reads like an action film, car chases, fights and even an actual pissing contest. Aniq's best friend and aspiring musician, who used to be in a band with Xavier, Yasper (Ben Schwartz), sees his night more like a musical. Further than that, some episodes are told in the style of a psychological thriller, animation, high school/coming of age theme and a police crime procedural. Although this technique is creative, it does not feel as disjointed as it sounds or as tedious as hearing the same story being told repeatedly. The connecting threads of Detectives Donner and Culp (John Ealy) trying to decipher the mystery behind the murder and prime suspect Aniq and Yasper trying to investigate for themselves make the series constantly feel as if it is moving forward as more information is unveiled.

One of the most interesting aspects that the show utilises is the concept of personal narrative. As Detective Donner says, everyone is the star of their own movie, and one event might be interpreted in entirely different ways by different people. It is then important that they started with Aniq's story because seeing the same events from the perspective of Brett, Zoë, Yasper and Chelsea (Ilana Glazer) makes you look at the same situation differently. And it shows how often we too, tend to misinterpret things when we are hyperfocused on our own narratives.

The star-studded cast makes the show even more special. Led by Tiffany Haddish, playing a character that is not her usual over-the-top physical comedy but is still hilarious with excellent comic timing and delivery. The rest of the ensemble reads like who's who from all your favourite sitcoms and comedies – Sam Richardson from Veep, Ben Schwartz from Parks and Recreation, Ike Barinholtz from The Mindy Project, Ilana Glazer from Broad City, Zoë Chao from Love Life, John Ealy from Search Party. And with Dave Franco playing Xavier with comedic timing that borders on the ridiculous but just reads like a lot of fun, everyone feels almost perfectly cast.

The mystery at the core is done so well that by the end of seven of the eight episodes, I still was unsure who the murderer was, and I had not lost interest either. I wanted to piece together the mystery with Detective Donner. It feels almost like Clue with all the suspects being in one home and little clues left in every episode for you to decipher.

Even though the series seems to have pacing issues at times, it is still an extremely enjoyable comedy that will make you think and titillate your curiosity. The series creator Christopher Miller is known as part of the producing team with Phil Lord, and the pair created 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. One can see the threads between his earlier work and the polished comedy in The Afterparty. This series has something for everyone with an entertaining ensemble cast and exciting mystery.


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