Starring: Alia Shawkat, John Early, John Reynolds
Networks: HBO Max, TBS
A black comedy about four self-centered twentysomethings who gather in the aftermath of a college acquaintance’s disappearance. The fourth season of Search Party premiered on HBO Max on January 14, 2021. Following its switch from TBS, it was the first season created entirely by the streaming service
The disappearance of a young woman named Chantal Winterbottom prompted the development of the Search Party (Clare McNulty). However, as the show progresses, it transforms into something much more intelligent: a biting drama about millennial ennui and self-exploration, with cynical hipster culture references thrown in for good measure.
Identity questions, as well as what our life goals are, are often posed, often in a lighthearted manner, and other times in a serious and affecting manner. Season 4 (which premiered this Thursday on HBO Max) continues the show’s legacy of excellence by delving ever deeper into the show’s darkest territory, despite a shaky start.
The chemistry between the core four characters is one of the most enjoyable aspects of watching Search Party, but the show struggles to recapture the magic in the first few episodes of season 4.
Indeed, so much of what happens in the season occurs in isolation; it appears that the show wants to see what happens if these four spoiled millennials are free of the toxicity that has bound them for so long.
Although this appears to be a fascinating subject to discuss, the film, sadly, fails to draw any deeper meaning from it. After the trial, we really don’t know what Drew, Elliott, and Portia think of Dory. After the trial, we really don’t know what Drew, Elliott, and Portia think of Dory.
We’re also baffled as to why Drew remains so devoted to Dory despite having been wronged by her several times. And the first half of the season is uneven due to both of these narrative weaknesses.
The season, luckily, begins to improve in the fifth episode, when Drew discovers that Dory’s absence may be due to something more sinister, and he decides to reunite with Elliott and Portia to find out the truth.
In that sense, the season returns to where it all began, but with the script flipped. The searcher has gone missing, and her three similarly narcissistic mates have been tasked with finding her.
It’s a nice way to track the characters’ development and compare where they are now to where they were when the show first aired. The mechanics of the quest, as well as the paranoia that comes with it, are secondary to the characters’ relationship, just as they were in season one.
The season received mostly favorable reviews and has a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.