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Review: The Afterparty

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From Ted Lasso to Mythic Quest, Apple’s quality of original shows offered through their Apple TV+ subscription service has been impressively high. By the end of its eight near 35-minute episodes, The Afterparty, a new whodunit comedy series brought to you by writing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the minds behind Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, The Lego Movie, and 21 and 22 Jump Street), shines just as brightly alongside Apple TV+’s best shows.

With Miller as showrunner and Lord as executive producer, The Afterparty follows Miller and Lord’s track record of consistently delivering high-quality productions that are excellent from start to finish. As such, The Afterparty is a well-thought-out and satisfying whodunit that balances its star-studded cast masterfully — easily representing one of the best and most overlooked shows of the year bar none.

The Afterparty revolves around a group of high school alumni as they attend their high school reunion. After they all congregate to an after-party hosted by fellow alum and mega-celebrity Xavier (Dave Franco) at his private mansion, detectives Danner (Tiffany Haddish) and Culp (John Early) are called to the scene to investigate Xavier’s timely murder.

From Veep’s Sam Richardson to Broad City’s Ilana Glazer, The Afterparty helms an impressive cast. Though star-studded casts sometimes provide a smokescreen for poor writing and character mismanagement (i.e. Netflix’s Space Force), The Afterparty avoids these issues by dedicating each episode
to a particular character and their potential role in the murder. Through this narrative design, each character is adequately fleshed out while the mystery unfolds piece by piece through each character’s eyes — keeping the show fresh, fun, and overall hilarious. For example, Richardson’s Aniq opens the pilot by providing a look into his character’s motivation and relationships with the other alumni while also building up the premise of the show.

Each actor brings an entirely different nuance and cadence to their character, making each party member feel unique, multifaceted, and grounded. Additionally, each character’s episode represents a type of “genre” that helms a unique visual style.

For example, Zoë Chao’s Zoë is an aspiring artist whose story and inner conflict are described entirely through animation, with her episode taking on a Disney-like charm. On the other side of the spectrum, Ben Schwartz’s Yasper, the arguable standout of the series, is an AV technician looking for his next big break. Yasper’s episode is entirely over the top as similar to an episode of Glee (complete with the show-stopping songs, “Two Shots” and “Three Dots to Stardom”). Furthermore, Haddish is also strong as Danner with her episode representing police procedurals akin to Law and Order and CSI. This story setup lends well to The Afterparty’s tone and pace. It keeps the comedy quick and well-written while not overshadowing the series’ heart and charm — though some characters’ episodes are better than others.

It’s important to note that the creators of the show want you to figure out who the murderer is. Murder show reveals often lack logical sense or purposefully withhold information to make guessing impossible, but luckily, The Afterparty avoids these frustrating and overused writing methods. All the clues are presented front and centre in each episode, allowing the reveal to make complete logical sense with all loose ends properly tied. You will likely be able to guess the identity of the murderer early on; however, its predictability doesn’t discredit an ending that is satisfying and ultimately well-earned.

Apple TV+’s The Afterparty is a near-perfect show that encompasses a satisfying murder mystery equally brought on by its excellent cast. With the show already greenlit for season two according to decider.com, The Afterparty stands among the streaming service’s best offerings and one of the best shows of the year.

★★★★★

Graphic: Nawaal Basha

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