When Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the guys behind “The Lego Movie,” teamed up again for a murder mystery miniseries, expectations were high. Paired with a star-studded cast, this show was going to be a hit. And it is. The Afterparty remains a popular show with fans all over the world that’s already been renewed for a second season. But despite its popularity, The Afterparty just isn’t that great.
The comedy series follows a group of former students who attend their high school reunion. One of the students, Xavier (Dave Franco), has gone on to become a successful pop star, and he hosts a reunion afterparty at his mansion. The party is cut short when Xavier ends up dead, and Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) arrives to investigate. Each episode follows a different character’s perspective of the night, and they tell their stories with unique genres.
The Afterparty is perfectly serviceable. It has strong performances, like Ike Barinholtz as tough guy Brett and Ilana Glazer as ex-class president Chelsea. The mystery is pretty compelling, and after seeing the same story over and over with different small details, you are gripped, and right until the killer is caught, you’ll be on the edge of your seat. The characterization is excellent, and you feel sympathy for everyone.
The problem with The Afterparty is that it’s not that funny. It has some clever jokes, but most of the punchlines fall flat. The different genres of each episode should be an easy way to get some laughs by poking fun at cliches, but the show can’t quite reach parody. The sendup of movie musicals feels less like a sendup, and more like a bad movie musical with some decent jokes.
Episode Two is a standout, with Ike Barinholtz’s Brett featuring in an action thriller. His performance deserves better writing, as he lights up every scene he appears in. Episode Three follows Yasper (Ben Schwartz) in the aforementioned musical episode, and every song seems to drag on a minute too long. Episode Seven is the epitome of why the show is bad. It follows Detective Danner as she thinks back to a case from her early police days. It’s too long, unengaging, and unfunny.
Another issue with the show is the typecasting. Every single actor on the show is typecast, and that’s not good. Sam Richardson is, as usual, ‘adorkable.’ Ilana Glazer is in her usual self-deprecating comedic role. Ben Schwartz is Ben Schwartz, for better or for worse (mostly worse). Jamie Demetriou isn’t typecast this time, however; he’s playing an American character, whereas he usually plays British ones. The writing is just disappointing, and it’s such a waste of potential for the talented actors.
From the start, you want to like The Afterparty, and there are good reasons to. Certain characters provide more laughs than others, such as Jamie Demetriou’s Walt and John Early’s Detective Culp. The mystery itself isn’t too shabby, and it feels like an Encyclopedia Brown book — if you pay attention to the clues, you may just be able to solve it yourself. The production team has done a solid job of emulating genre conventions in the cinematography, music, and color palette. An episode set in the characters’ high school days features comically horrendous early 2000s wigs. Plus, the theme song is a banger.
All that being said, The Afterparty just feels like another grossly over-budgeted comedy, and chances are it slipped through the cracks along with dozens of other shows on streaming being released with little fanfare. If you give it a chance, you might have a good time. I can’t stress this enough: The Afterparty is not a bad show, it just wasted its potential.