Review: The Afterparty, making whodunnits fun

Tiffany Haddish in The Afterparty

The Afterparty, season 1, was a mystery about a murder. Set at a party after a high school reunion, the series was funny and surprisingly original. Each of the 8 episodes was from a different character’s point of view and in a different movie style. It has been renewed for a second season. Minor spoilers ahead.

The Afterparty had a terrific ensemble cast lead by Tiffany Haddish as the Holmes-like Detective Danner. She solves the case with aplomb. The clues she uses are there for those who like to figure out a whodunnit, but most viewers are taken by surprise when the killer is named.

Dave Franco in The Afterparty

Xavier (Dave Franco) is the only person from the high school class who became famous. He’s a musician. He’s the one who gets murdered after he invites everyone to his fancy home on a cliff following the class reunion. Somebody pushed him off a balcony, down the cliff face, to splat on a rocky beach.

Det. Danner and Det. Culp (John Early) are the first cops to arrive. Danner begins questioning the guests one by one.

Sam Richardson in The Afterparty

Aniq (Sam Richardson) is the first one questioned. He tells his version of the story like a romantic drama. It revolves around Zoë (Zoe Chao). Aniq has had a crush on Zoë since high school. Sam Richardson plays most of his scenes with felt marker designs on his face.

Ike Barinholtz, Zoe Chao, and Ilana Glazer in The Afterparty
Zoë, Brett and Chelsea

After high school, Zoë married Brett (Ike Barinholtz). They have a daughter and are getting a divorce. Since the divorce, Zoë is taking a second look at Aniq.

Brett is questioned next and makes his version of events into an action movie with him as the hero.

Yasper (Ben Schwartz) is questioned. In high school, Yasper and Xavier were in a band together. Yasper is the one who didn’t get famous. He wanted Xavier to endorse his next single in hopes it would be a hit. His version of events is a full out musical production.

When Chelsea (Ilana Glazer) is questioned, the episode style is psychological thriller. She talks about mysterious text messages and her one time affair with Brett.

Walt (Jamie Demetriou) is next under Det. Danner’s eye. He makes his story into a teen drama. A famous high school party was held at his house, but nobody remembers that it was at Walt’s house. In fact, most people don’t remember Walt or his name at all. He’s invisible to them – kind of like a gray haired lady at a party of young techies.

Zoe’s story is a bonkers animation. To be honest, I really like Zoe Chao and I was disappointed that her big episode was made into drawings. But it suited the split personality tale she wove.

Tiffany Haddish can be funny doing almost nothing.

Aniq and Yasper try to listen in on the interrogations. Det. Culp is running around stabbing Danner in the back by calling in other officers and doubting her methods. People get trapped in panic rooms and Brett and Zoe’s daughter (Everly Carganilla) is hanging around with all these adults. Even the 6 year old gets to tell her version of what happened.

There are two pregnant Jennifers (Tiya Sircar and Ayden Mayen) and a sleepy eyed Indigo (Genevieve Angelson) downstairs as part of the group.

Then Danner gets in on the storytelling. She makes her career growth into a police procedural as she explains to Culp how competent she actually is.

Finally Danner puts all the clues together and names the killer. She even gets a full confession. Everybody goes home, and Aniq and Zoë make his version of a romantic drama a little closer to reality.

All the crazy hopping around in points of view and movie styles was compelling and interesting. The mystery was hard to figure out (at least for me), but drew me in and kept me trying to track everyone. Most of all, the series was really funny. Tiffany Haddish can be funny doing almost nothing. She will be back leading a new cast of supporting characters in season 2.

You can see The Afterparty on Apple TV+. The series was created by Christopher Miller.

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