Welcome to a very millennial murder mystery.
The Afterparty Season 1 Episode 1 is a light-hearted, breezy take on the murder mystery. Many of the tropes are present, but the stacked cast, as well as the execution (pun intended), keep it engaging and dynamic.
Playing the untimely death of a celebrity for laughs may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I'm here for it.
The concept is that each episode will contain a witness account told in a different style/genre of film. In Episode 1, we get two.
One comes from Indigo (played to pretentious perfection by Genevieve Angelson), who tells her version of events as a high-concept, black-and-white art film.
This is more than a prank. This is a metaphor for society’s illusion of stability.Ned
It's brief enough that we get the joke -- an entire episode in this style might be a bit much. The rest features the account of Aniq (effortlessly lovable Sam Richardson) in the style of a romantic comedy.
Given the cast's makeup, it's refreshing to have the romantic comedy genre assigned to Aniq -- something that might stereotypically cater to women and thus be assigned to a female character. It will be interesting to see what other genres manifest with the other party guests.
The script is genuinely funny, but it's enhanced by a killer ensemble (pun intended again) of actors who know how to deliver lines for maximum comedic effect.
This is especially true of John Early as Detective Culp. Every single line he had made me laugh. Culp's partner is Detective Danner, played by Tiffany Haddish, and they couldn't be more different, making them a great pair.
Haddish's Danner is headstrong, self-assured, bucking authority and investigating the crime scene how she sees fit. Sometimes she comes across as less-than-qualified to be a detective, going with feelings instead of facts.
So many of these characters have great chemistry -- Richardson in particular, with both his best friend Yasper (the always hilarious Ben Schwartz) and his high-school crush Zoe (charming and funny Zoe Chao).
We didn’t just have chemistry together — we had CHEMISTRY TOGETHER.
Rom-coms only work if your leads have sparks -- it's a delight to watch Zoe and Aniq banter and do the typical montage thing and enjoy the unresolved romantic tension.
You have to wonder how much of the dialogue between these characters was improvised -- it feels so silly and organic.
Aniq is first up to give his story because he's the most likely suspect -- he went upstairs to see Xavier right before he left. Unless this is meant to double-bluff us as an audience, it doesn't seem like Aniq is the murderer.
Aniq feels like our protagonist, our hero. He maintains his innocence and is intent on finding the real killer. This only serves to prove that most of the testimonies will be from unreliable narrators with their own personal biases.
Since they are all relaying information to Detective Danner, we can't be sure anyone is telling the complete truth -- the killer wouldn't confess, but they would still have a story.
There are many suspects with motives, which is a great way to start.
Xavier (Dave Franco) is a typical pop star -- he's smooth, charming, chill, and just wants everybody to have a good time.
He's dead before the opening credits roll, but since a huge chunk of the story is told in flashbacks, we still get to know him -- at least, from Aniq's point of view, and Aniq sees him as a smarmy bro.
I'm just here reune like all you normal people.Xavier
Brett seems the most obvious candidate, which leads me to believe it's not him. Brett appears to resent Xavier for talking to his ex-wife, Zoe, and he definitely has anger issues. Brett as a character is probably there to divert our attention from the real killer.
Brett’s the answer to the question “What would a human butt look like if it could wear a jacket?”
Chelsea is a mystery. Her behavior is very suspicious. Her drunkenness could just be an act to keep people off the scent. Also, Aniq drank from her flask marked with a big red 'X' and quickly began to feel dizzy.
Does Chelsea have two flasks? Was she planning to drug someone? Possibly Xavier? What was her conversation with Brett about?
Indigo, Ned, and the Jennifers seem like supporting players. However, Xavier did pee on Jennifer #1, which is humiliating enough that I wouldn't put it past her if she wanted revenge.
I love Santa but I'm Jewish.Jennifer #2
Walt is the biggest wild card. He's got that weird, pathetic energy (played with wonderful awkwardness by Jamie Demetriou) that makes him seem like he's about to snap at any second. How did he even get invited to Xavier's afterparty?
I'd say there has to be more to Walt. Either he knows something crucial, or he's the murderer himself. I'm dying (once again, pun intended) to hear his version of events.
Get the cornstarch. The plot thickens.Detective Danner
Overall, Episode 1 felt a bit long, but it had a lot of establishing to do, plus it was jam-packed with information and laughs.
The throwaway jokes deserve mention -- Xavier's songs ('X Marks The G-Spot') and movies ('Hungry Hungry Hippos' featuring Will Forte and the Hall and Oates biopic 'Private Eyes' with Channing Tatum) are funny because they walk the line between satire and the notion that they could easily exist.
We're off to a great start. Though not all of these characters are likable, they're definitely fun to watch.
There are many possibilities to consider and plenty of little nuggets of information that will undoubtedly come into play later.
What did you think of The Afterparty premiere?
Are you intrigued enough to keep watching? Who's your main suspect?
Share your theories in the comments, and check back here for more reviews all season long.
Mary Littlejohn Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She loves television, cinema, and theatre (especially musicals!), particularly when it champions inclusivity, diversity, and social justice. Follow her on Twitter.