One of the biggest problems with modern streaming services is how easy it is to miss stuff. There’s just so much that even the good shows can pass right by you. And it’s just as true for a platform like Apple TV Plus as it is for more stuffed services like Netflix. With all of the focus on big, splashy projects like Foundation or Severance or the latest movie from Martin Scorsese, it’s not hard for something like The Afterparty — a quirky murder mystery that plays around with film history — to fly under the radar.
Well, good news if you did miss it: season 2 kicks off today, making it a great time to jump in.
Season 1 took place in the aftermath of a party that followed a high school reunion, where the host — a pop star named Xavier (Dave Franco) — died under mysterious circumstances. What made it interesting, though, wasn’t necessarily the mystery itself but the show’s structure. As Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) interviewed each witness, viewers were able to see how events unfold from different perspectives.
The twist is that each episode is not only centered on a specific character’s take on the evening but also portrayed in a different style, suiting their personality. One episode is like a Fast & Furious movie, another a poppy musical with annoyingly catchy tunes. There’s even an animated one. It’s an extremely fun gimmick and lends the show — which is ostensibly about a tragic murder — some levity. What was surprising about season 1 was how it managed to balance having an intriguing mystery with also being a hilarious comedy.
Season 2 tells a new story but with some key returning characters. Bumbling escape room designer Aniq (Sam Richardson) and his girlfriend Zoë (Zoë Chao) are attending Zoë’s sister’s wedding, when — shock — the groom, a tech genius, is found dead. Eventually, they pull Danner in for some help. This setup mimics the best detective stories — think Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, or relative newcomer Benoit Blanc — so that we have the same heroes but are put in a brand-new situation.
The second season works for a few reasons. To start, the new cast is great. There’s Zach Woods as the eccentric genius who is never without his pet lizard, John Cho as the annoyingly worldly uncle who never misses a chance to tell you where he’s traveled, Elizabeth Perkins as the groom’s seemingly cold-hearted mother, Ken Jeong as a struggling entrepreneur just trying to keep his family above water, and Anna Konkle as the groom’s misfit adopted sister. That’s just a taste, and they fit in well with the original cast, particularly Haddish as she delves into each of their stories.
But the show has also expanded its scope to encompass a greater range of genres to parody. Things start out simple enough in the first episode, a rom-com sequel centered on Aniq, but from there, The Afterparty delves into film noir and Victorian-era romance while also paying homage to filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and Wes Anderson.
Now, don’t get me wrong: this isn’t some extremely complex murder mystery that will keep you up at night. But The Afterparty’s second season does just enough to be a compelling whodunit while also being goofy, silly, and playful. It’s 30 minutes every week where you can just have some fun while also keeping an eye out for clues. I’ve seen all of the new season (with the exception of the finale) and, while there are some obvious moments, there are also genuinely surprising twists that kept me guessing — and curious where this oddball crime-fighting team is headed next.
Season 2 of The Afterparty is on Apple TV Plus now, with new episodes on Wednesdays.