Dark Comedy Streaming On Max Parodies A New Genre Every Season

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

search party

At its core, Search Party is a comedy about a group of self-centered hipsters. That simple core, which could describe many modern sitcoms, is complicated by the radical tonal and genre shifts that define the show, becoming a comical version of a different genre every season. These genre shifts push the show into increasingly dark territory as it moves through a gamut of crime subgenres and then various styles of horror. 

The Cast

search party

Part of what allows Search Party to jump from genre to genre is the talent of its core cast, who manage to turn increasingly dark situations into comedy gold. Alia Shawkat, John Reynolds, John Early, and Meredith Hagner make up the main cast, playing the core friend group that serves as the heart of the show. Alia Shawkat’s performance, in particular, is phenomenal as she’s often tasked with jumping back and forth between drama and comedy and nails both. 

The First Three Seasons

search party

Initially, the show centers on the search for a missing girl named Chantal, whom the protagonist Dory becomes obsessed with finding. This makes the first season of Search Party a mystery, with the core group of friends trying to piece together what happened to Chantal. Their obsession leads them to commit a horrible crime, which they ultimately learn was all for nothing.

The second season of Search Party parodies the crime-gone-wrong drama, as the self-involved, incompetent group tries to hide the crime they committed. The group’s bumbling, inept, attempts to cover their track evokes Coen Brothers movies like Burn After Reading and Raising Arizona. The third season is a courtroom drama, following their trial after they inevitably get caught, with the high-profile proceedings turning them into celebrities.

The Final Two Seasons

Search Party season 4 becomes even darker as an obsessed fan kidnaps Dory splitting the show between Dory and the rest of the group. While the rest of the group is once again thrown into a mystery as they search for their missing friend, Dory’s plotline delves into straightforward psychological horror.

The final season of Search Party doubles down, beginning as religious horror before pivoting into a zombie apocalypse. The first half of the season follows a cult started by one of the main characters, but ends as a zombie comedy that feels like Zombieland meets Friends.

A Unique Parody

What makes Search Party great is that it takes all of the genres it explores seriously, letting the comedy come from how out of place its characters are in those genres. Characters like Portia Davenport and Elliott Goss deliver consistent laughs in dark moments, such as Portia wanting to treat burying a body like a proper funeral or Elliott accusing a hostile reporter of farting to avoid questioning. It’s a parody that doesn’t poke fun at genre conventions but inserts humor into serious situations. 

Stream It Now


Search Party slips between genres every season while keeping its signature humor and tight continuity. It’s a parody of the various genres it explores, but it also recreates those genres in surprisingly straightforward and enjoyable ways. Search Party is a fascinating, smart, dark comedy available to stream on Max.