Few shows experience a first season that’s as polished as Search Party’s debut year. The series not only offers up one of the most realistic looks at millennials and their disaffected way of life, but it’s damn funny and some of the best work fromAlia Shawkat to date.
Search Party weaves a thrilling mystery, but this new season pushes the show into darker territory. Last season might have seemed like hell for Dory and company, but season two really tests these characters to their core. Search Party’s second season faces the difficult task of following and topping its impressive first year, yet this darker tone helps the show evolve and grow. With Search Party’s second season kicking off on November 19th with back-to-back episodes, we chatted with two of the show’s co-creators about the show’s endgame, Dory’s descent into darkness, and finding humor in such tragic situations.
DEN OF GEEK: I’ve heard a lot of discussion about how you guys have come up with a three-year plan for the show and have the larger strokes mapped out. Was that a big help when going through this season?
CHARLES ROGERS: I love this three-year plan thing that’s started going around!
SARAH-VIOLET BLISS: I know!
Well let’s start on that then! Is that not the case here?
CR: It is and it isn’t. I think we’ve always had just enough of an idea of what’s ahead to feel comfortable making big decisions, but we always want to keep it a little bit loose. We’re grateful to even have a second season to begin with, so it feels like it would be bold to talk about future seasons we don’t have. We still feel like we can make risky story choices that look towards the future. We have a feeling of the overall arc of the show more than anything.
This season has a much darker premise and backbone to it than the first season. Do you like the challenge in trying to find comedy in something as dark as murder?
SB: Yeah! To our surprise it’s been helpful. The fact that it’s been darker has also made it a lot funnier. It’s also really enjoyable to just put these characters into a really harrowing conversation that they didn’t sign up for and now they have to deal with shit that they never thought that they’d have to in their lives.
What were you guys most excited about getting to explore in this new chapter of the story?
CR: I think more than anything Dory is such a big figure of denial. They all are in different ways. They all are representative of the types of denial that you see in people nowadays. So in the first season Dory is projecting all of this baggage onto the mystery and trying to make it give meaning to her life. Now she’s killed someone—and we haven’t killed anyone—but we still have to be able to relate to it as much as possible. The way that we do that is through the way we get into denial about everyday things or how you ignore mistakes or bad actions you’ve done in the past as a means of justification. That’s where the irony rests this season and to us it was also the richest thing to explore.
Did you ever consider an angle to this season that started off differently? These guys covering up the murder seems like the only choice to go forward with here, but did you talk about them going to the police or anything else?
SB: I think we always wanted them to cover up the murder. We did discuss different ways to show that though, whether it was a jump in time to after the cover up or something else. But we definitely wanted this horrible thing to be hanging over their heads.
Were you guys excited to get to have Chantal as a character in the cast now and someone you can have in this mix of people, too?
CR: Totally. I mean Clare [McNulty] is an old friend of ours and she was in our movie [Fort Tilden]. But people are always like, “You guys must hate her.” We put her in the worst outfits and are always telling our costume designer to make her look way more basic and gross. It’s so fun. Chantal is such a fun character because she’s the price that they’ve paid for the first season. They were looking for her and now she won’t leave their lives. It’s a lot of fun to just make her so bratty and obnoxious.
It’s a little surprising to see Elliott stepping up to the plate and being the responsible and confident one here that rallies everyone together. Talk a little on him finding that leadership position in the first couple of episodes.
SB: We were talking about how he’s the most openly sociopathic of all of these characters. He kind of knows what to do in terms of “Okay, this is how we cover it up. Follow my lead…” And then we always wanted to show him be a mess. How his guilt manifests this season is really interesting.
CR: John Early gets to get crazy. He really shows how far he can go. It’s a lot of fun.
Talk a little on Portia choosing to involve herself in this. Did you consider a version of things where she was left out and they continued to keep this from her?
CR: We did, actually! But it just felt too tricky in the end. It was an interesting idea to play with how long they could keep this horrible thing from their friend, but the more we thought about it realistically, it would just break their friendship. It’d be too much.
SB: Yeah, she needs to be complicit in some way and they need to share all of this in common.
CR: Plus, it’s just nice to see them all bonded together in this horrible thing that they did.
One of my favorite performances from this show is John Reynolds as Drew and this season he certainly has a lot going on with both a break-up and murder cover up. What’s going on in Drew’s head this season?
CR: He’s definitely in over his head. The break-up and murder happen on the same day—it’s such a terrible day—so those two events are sort of one and the same for him. I think they all sort of feel like they’re leaving an old life behind and Drew feels responsible for killing someone. He directly associates that entire experience with Dory and so it just makes sense to cut her out of his life. I think we always want to play with a “will they, won’t they?” with Drew and Dory and just how perfectly mismatched they are. Now they have to deal with a murder on top of that and how complicated that must be.
At one point Dory says that all of them are good people that have gotten caught up in a bad situation. What’s your take on that?
SB: I think that’s a manifestation of her denial about who she is and everyone’s intent to believe that they’re a good person in spite of doing bad things. But also, it comments on what does it mean to be a good or bad person because I still like all of these characters. The fact that they did this doesn’t make me stop liking them, but they did do a terrible thing. So how do you reconcile that?
Is there a certain character whose journey this season has you guys really excited? All of these characters are going through a ton, but does anyone in particular stand out this season?
CR: Yeah, I think we had to find a way to deepen everyone’s storylines. I will say though that there is a particular storyline that is such a spoiler that I can’t even be specific about it. But there’s a storyline where someone gets close to knowing what they did and becoming a big threat to them and I love that a lot. That’s a fun side of the season, so stay with it!
To shift gears a little bit here, I loved the episode of Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later that you two wrote. What was it like to get to goof around in that playground for a little bit and do you see more of that universe happening at some point?
SB: I love working on Wet Hot because it’s just so silly and fun. It’s such a world unlike any other. It’s a pleasure to be able to work on stuff like that. It also plays with a genre in a similar way that Search Party does where it’s like, “Okay, these are the tropes. This is how people will feel because of the language they’ve learned through watching film…” The humor is so different between these shows though and it’s just so much fun to think up stupid jokes.
CR: We were there a little longer on the first season, but the amount of talent assembled is just staggering. The energy in the writers’ room alone is just a huge difference between shows. On Search Party, I feel like we have long days where we debate the philosophy of the show, but on Wet Hot it’s like everyone is so funny and it’s just constant jokes flying around.
After working through this season, how confident are you guys that you could successfully cover up a murder?
SB: Not at all!
CR: If anything this season should expose our inability to pull off such a thing. I think I could get away with it if I was born into a really desperate, destitute situation, like Robert Pattinson in Good Time. I don’t want to kill anyone, but I feel like if that psychotic tendency was already in me I’d maybe kill someone if I had to.
SB: I know. Immediately I would be like, “I’m turning myself in.” I would rather go to jail for the rest of my life than have to deal with that guilt.
Search Party’s second season premieres on November 19th at 10pm on TBS, where it will air two episodes each Sunday