Search Party, the brilliant new show about a group of millennial sleuths, brings together a lot of talent in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Set in New York, Dory (Alia Shawkat) comes across a flier seeking the whereabouts of Chantal Witherbottom (Clare McNulty). She recognises Chantal from her past and decides to make it her mission to find her.
Dory drags her immediate circle into her investigation, including her boyfriend, Drew (John Reynolds), and friends Elliott (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner). They have a hard time understanding her interest, but gradually get deeper involved in the mystery.
These are the folks who make this show so great.
The Search Party
As Dory, Shawkat anchors Search Party, playing a lifelong social wallflower who's stuck as the personal assistant to a rich housewife (Christine Taylor) and deeply unfulfilled by her stale relationship with her boyfriend. A thrill of the show is watching Dory discover she has a knack for detective work while navigating her awkward life – Shawkat nails it. She’s best known for playing Maeby Funke on Arrested Development, and has appeared in the films Whip It, The Runaways, Ruby Sparks, The Final Girls and Green Room. She’s good for a cameo, too, making an unforgettable appearance in an episode of Broad City, and she regularly appears on Drunk History and Portlandia.
Elliott Goss, a narcissist and social schemer, is played to perfection by Early. He’s best known for his collaborations with fellow comedian Kate Berlant. The duo made a name for themselves with their YouTube videos and live shows, which made them rising stars in the American comedy scene. Early has appeared in small television roles in 30 Rock, Broad City, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and Love. He broke out when he was featured in the Netflix comedy special The Characters, which got him cast alongside Seth Rogen in Bad Neighbours 2. And he’ll hit the big screen again in The Disaster Artist, a dramatisation of the making of The Room (the Citizen Kane of bad movies), which got rave reviews when it played the SXSW festival this year.
Dory’s doofus boyfriend, Drew, who has spent his whole life a little too sheltered, becomes endearing thanks to Reynolds’ assured performance. Search Party is Reynolds’ first major role, but you may remember him from Stranger Things – he played nerdy police officer Callahan.
Hagner does the impossible and turns the flighty, bubbly, entitled Portia – sure to be despised on any other show – into a delightfully vacuous member of the team, who uses her charm to get information from suspects. Hagner’s background is in soap operas – she appeared in As the World Turns for two years – and she has made appearances in Veep and Louie.
Brandon Micheal Hall
With brief appearances in Broad City and the Netflix comedy special The Characters, Hall may not have the impressive credits of his co-stars, but he makes a big impression playing Dory’s journalist ex-boyfriend, who speaks the truth no matter what and acts as a voice of reason as things get absurd. Hall will next appear in TV series The Mayor, which is produced by the team behind The Mindy Project, Happy Endings and Black-ish.
What hasn’t Taylor been in? A mainstay of American comedy for two decades, she played Marica Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel (that recently became a meme), and her filmography also includes The Craft, The Wedding Singer, Zoolander, Dodgeball and Tropic Thunder. Her TV cred is even more impressive, having appeared in Ellen, Murphy Brown, Seinfeld, Friends, Spin City, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development.
From Swingers to Office Space and Brand of Brothers, you know Livingston’s face even if not his name, but it’s always a good sign when he shows up. He’s mostly remembered for being the boyfriend on Sex and the City who broke up with Carrie Bradshaw via a Post-It.
Bringing serious cred to the cast is Perez, an Oscar nominee (Fearless), who has appeared in iconic films such as Do The Right Thing and White Men Can’t Jump.
Since the '90s, Posey has built a career on showing up in things and automatically making everything better. She was once the “Queen of Indies” but has been able to flip to Hollywood and back as her reputation has grown over the years. Check out this resume: Dazed and Confused, Waiting for Guffman, You’ve Got Mail, Best in Show, Josie and the Pussycats, A Mighty Wind and Superman Returns. Recently, Posey has been doing a lot of TV guests spots, and has appeared in Parks and Recreation, The Good Wife, Louie, New Girl, Inside Amy Schumer, Portlandia and Drunk History. She’ll next be seen in Netflix's reboot of Lost in Space playing the villainous Dr Smith (the role made famous by Jonathan Harris in the '60s series).
A staple of film, television and theatre – she has two Tony awards – Ebersole is another recognisable face who you would have seen in films such as Tootsie, Amadeus and The Wolf of Wall Street. Oh, and she played the mum in the big budget adaption of Richie Rich with Macaulay Culkin. She also appeared as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in the '80s, and guest starred in Murphy Brown, Ally McBeal, Just Shoot Me!, Will and Grace, Boston Legal, American Horror Story: Coven and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
The brains behind the camera
A big deal in the modern American comedy scene, Showalter is an actor, producer, writer and director who is responsible for cult hit Wet Hot American Summer. He’s a founding member of comedy group Stella, who broke out big in the '90s with MTV sketch comedy series The State, which featured Michael Ian Black, Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Joe Lo Truglio and Ken Marino. Recently, Showalter has directed the film Hello, My Name is Doris (starring Sally Field). His next film, The Big Sick, is out this year and received high praise when it debuted at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. He’s no stranger to TV, either, having worked on Grace and Frankie, Love and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.
Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers
Bliss worked with James Franco, Mila Kunis and Jessica Chastain on a collaborative student film called The Colour of Time. She then teamed up with Charles Rogers to make Fort Tildon, which won the Grand Jury award at the SXSW Festival.
Rogers has written for the first and second seasons of Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer as well as for the second season of Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. He gained attention after his collaboration with Bliss, Fort Tilden, won the Grand Jury award at the SXSW Festival.
Do yourself a favour and binge Search Party at SBS On Demand.
Watch the first episode right here: