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Over the course of Search Party’s four seasons, the show’s tone has shifted from mystery to thriller to legal drama to what might be referred to as “horror comedy.” In a THR Presents interview powered by Vision Media, the four principal cast members talk about navigating the twists and turns of a series in which truth is illusory and existential crisis is the through line.
“Ever since we did the pilot, the tone has always been something that we figured out blindly,” explains Alia Shawkat, whose Dory Sief character’s determination to track down a missing person she barely knew in college fuels the first season, and gives her life meaning. “And it just kind of ends up working and we just keep trusting our weird instincts.”
“I try to carry Dory’s emotional arc, and the style just ends up speaking for itself,” continues Shawkat. “It still has this connective tissue throughout, namely these four characters, and how they’re haplessly struggling to define themselves.”
Those four characters–twentysomething Brooklyn hipsters whose entitled privilege allows them the luxury of being adrift in the city that never sleeps—get caught up in Dory’s quest, which reflects the show’s greater theme of finding themselves.
“Their quest for identity is so one-dimensional identity,” says Meredith Hagner, who plays the not-so-ambitious actress Portia Davenport. “And eventually that’s totally fruitless.”
John Early, who plays would-be philanthropist Elliot Goss, acknowledges that instead of evolving, this tight-knit group seems to be experiencing the opposite. “They had the safety of the millennial archetype in the first couple of seasons in terms of ‘I’m lost, I don’t know who I am,’” the actor explains. “Time’s ticking on that excuse a little bit. The culture has no patience anymore for that excuse.”
“I think the show may actually be about how impossible it is to be really authentic today,” adds Early, whose flamboyant wardrobe as Goss could inspire the hashtag “whatwouldelliotwear?” “We’re obsessed with authenticity, we’re obsessed with identity. And yet the way you express your authenticity or identity is all on social media, so it’s inherently inauthentic. It’s always going to be a bit of a performance.”
This edition of THR Presents is brought to you by HBO Max.