Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Search Party

I just finished watching Search Party, a very impressive new spin on the slice of life millennial Girls style dramedy. This form has become so prevalent recently, and produced some fantastic shows, like You’re the Worst, but it definitely feels like we’ve seen enough of people dealing with ennui in Brooklyn or Silverlake.

The smart thing that this show does is fuse the story of a young woman struggling to make it as an adult with a compelling murder mystery conspiracy plot. At its best, genre elements can be used as a way to reflect and heighten our real experiences. In this case, the raw anger and discontent that Dory feels with her place in the world is channeled into her obsession with Chantal’s mystery and the web of intrigue surrounding it.

By the way that she behaves, we understand her emotional state and frustration, but the fact that it exists in the context of a larger narrative means that it doesn’t feel whiny or self indulgent, it’s compelling, and gives the show a cliffhanger propulsivity that is missing from other, similar shows.

It actually reminds me a bit of The Sopranos, a show that was at its heart about the baby boomer generation struggling to find meaning in the material success, but purposeless existence. If the dilemma for them was living up to the ‘greatest generation,’ the dilemma for their children is struggling to find a stable job, and wondering if the kind of life style they took for granted is even possible.

In the case of The Sopranos, the mob storylines keep the narrative propulsive and ensure that you’re always entertained, even though they weren’t really what the show was about. In Search Party, Chantal’s disappearance functions as a mirror for all the characters, forcing them to examine their own situation. For some of them, it’s meaningless, but for Dory, it holds special resonance.