Can You Dig It?: Why We Need the Millennial Mystery of SEARCH PARTY
CAN YOU DIG IT! Is a recurring column where we will tell you what chilling films and spooky TV shows are currently on our wavelengths!
In the wake of the trash fires that have been the last two years, I find myself scrolling through Facebook mindlessly at times: wave upon wave of the endless news cycle, interwoven with cat pictures, new babies, and endless downpour of think pieces on everything from healthy living to how groups have been oppressed by a white patriarchal societal structure, all the way down to the ire of many a person who yells at clouds: Millennials.
It was late when I came across this specific article, or maybe it was just a meme, but it was outlining the differences between the Millennial Generation and the Z-Generation. The Z-Generation is a demographic that represents those born in the mid-90s, nestling millennials to those born between ‘80 and ‘97. What this meme was specifically trying to touch on is the general idea that millennials are children, or as dubbed by TIME Magazine as the “Me Me Me Generation”. Selfishness, narcissism, egoism, and arrogance are traits most generally attributed to millennials. And, as a millennial myself, there is truth in hyperbole! Everyday my Instagram feed is filled with selfies, travel portraits that cry #FOMO, Michelin-rated food plated gorgeously and if you scroll through my various social channels you could paint a picture of a generation that wants you to know how good they are doing.
But as the generation gets stereotyped and satirized, its true identity gets lost in the shuffle. Even Baby Boomers have forgotten that they were, too, once referred to as the “Me Generation” and the stereotypes of the Seattle grunge movement were labeled on Generation X when they were still just finding their voice. I’m a millennial, I’m continuing to understand my privilege in this world and how to use it for change, but I also understand that my generation, as well as X and Z, inherited a pretty rough hand when it comes to...well a lot. The rising cost of higher education coupled with ever increasing student loan debts, lack of growth in the private sector, and ever skyrocketing property value due to inflation that isn’t reflected in minimum wage is A LOT to have passed to you when entering adulthood. Look, millennials understand growing up is not easy, but the last few generations haven’t really helped, economically or socially. This quaking society, though, houses a wealth of stories that deserve to be told with honesty. This doesn’t mean that we can’t poke fun at ourselves, we are the generation that popularized the usage of memes and gifs in lieu of actual conversation after all, but maybe let millennials be in on the joke this time.
And Search Party is just that.
Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers (Authors Note: Full transparency, I went to college in Texas with Charles. Hi Charles!) came onto the film scene hot with Fort Tilden. At times a scatching review of our own “Generation Me”, while also being a hilarious comedy of errors as two best friends make their way across Brooklyn to Fort Tilden, a far flung beach at The Rockaways in New York. I absolutely loved the film and found that while it played with the stereotypes of the millennial generation, it does so without sacrificing the character. We could laugh while one of the girls casually watches her bike be stolen because we connect with the crippling anxiety confrontations stir, and yet the characters listlessness retains wistful honesty. After taking home the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, and stints as staff writers on the Michael Showalter produced Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp for Netflix, they’ve developed their own show: the half hour mystery/thriller comedy Search Party, with Showalter serving as co-creator and executive producer.
Search Party begins with a disappearance. The immaculately named Chantal Witherbottom (Clare McNulty from Fort Tilden) has gone missing on the eve of her sister's wedding, and college friend Dory (Alia Shawkat) is set on finding her - even though she barely knows her. And her friends don’t remember her from school. Basically, no one really cares, but it’s that which sets Dory off on her investigation. As she tracks down leads, tails suspects, and infiltrates a potential sex cult she sucks her friends, including boyfriend Drew, deeper into her web of conspiracies leading to a climax that is truly unexpected - and hilarious. And so millennial. But it’s perfect because of this. While we may laugh at the idiosyncrasies of Elliott (played by one of the funniest people working today: John Early), not to mention his straight FIRE wardrobe, he is not free of the judgement which he dishes out on the daily as his mask is ripped away from him. Even Drew, the doting boyfriend (played with perfect timidity by Stranger Things John Reynolds) - who you want to just shake assertion into - has pathos as he watches helplessly as his girlfriend spirals. And Dory herself, pondering aloud, “Would anyone even care if something bad happened to me?”, forgetting that her own investment is due to a lack of motivation for something in her own life (Dory is a personal assistant to Gail, the always delightful Christine Taylor). And that feeling is so incredibly relatable across generations. We have all stifled our feelings of inadequacy by focusing our attention away from ourselves and attached it to something or someone else. For some people that may be to refocus at the day job or taking up a hobby, but for Dory it just so happens to be finding a missing girl. You gotta just take what life throws at you!
The millennial antics of the two best friends in Fort Tilden caught the spleen of critics when it was released. Many couldn’t see past the heightened hipsterdom of the film and see the satirization beneath. Maybe they thought nothing else was there, or maybe they simply didn’t look hard enough. And while the skewing of habitual millennial culture and attitudes may turn some older viewers off from Search Party at first, hold tight and look close because beneath that is a hilarious Hitchcockian thriller that continues to get better and better. Season two, which premiered last Sunday, tonally shifts to a MUCH darker place, and due to this shift, the humor is funnier than ever while maintaining more tension that I’ve ever experienced in a half-hour comedy. If you want to feel like a hipster and get into something before anyone else, start watching Search Party now. It’s really that good.
Search Party airs on TBS every Sunday at 10PM EST/PST, or catch up on last season by going to TBS.com!