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‘The Afterparty’ is Apple’s comedic mystery with a killer cast: NPR

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‘The Afterparty’ is Apple’s comedic mystery with a killer cast: NPR

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Sam Richardson and Ben Schwartz Play Best Friends in Comedy Murder Mystery the after party.

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‘The Afterparty’ is Apple’s comedic mystery with a killer cast: NPR

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Sam Richardson and Ben Schwartz Play Best Friends in Comedy Murder Mystery the after party.

AppleTV

The pitch of the Apple TV+ series the after party is persuasive. It’s a cast of MVP comedy stars pulling off a murder mystery under the direction of Christopher Miller, whose bona fide dates back to clone high. And while it doesn’t quite live up to the expectations the pitch might create, it’s still a lot of fun.

Here’s a partial cast list: Tiffany Haddish, Ben Schwartz, Sam Richardson, John Early, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, Tiya Sircar — and those are just the people with strong comedy resumes. There are also sharp performances by Zoe Chao (Love life) and Genevieve Angelson (Revolt of the good girls). (Dave Franco is in extremely …Dave Franco-ish, and you can feel it any way you want.)

The setup is that on his high school reunion night, a rich and successful sleazeball named Xavier (Franco) invites his classmates to his house, and he ends up dying. A cop named Danner (Haddish) – accompanied by his colleague Culp (Early) – descends on the house and keeps everyone there while she gets each participant’s version of what happened: Aniq (Richardson ), the affable nerd; Yasper (Schwartz), Aniq’s enthusiastic and somewhat insufferable best friend; Brett (Barinholtz), the cool guy from high school whose arrogance has degraded with age; Zoe (Chao), Brett’s ex-wife who somewhat regrets having chosen him when she was a teenager; and Chelsea (Glazer), the “quirky girl” who lingers in corners while people wonder about her.

‘The Afterparty’ is Apple’s comedic mystery with a killer cast: NPR

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Tiffany Haddish is a detective who might have her own secrets.

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‘The Afterparty’ is Apple’s comedic mystery with a killer cast: NPR

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Tiffany Haddish is a detective who might have her own secrets.

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The other conceptual hook is that, in addition to each episode representing a different person’s version of the evening, each is done according to the conventions of a different genre. Aniq’s story is a romantic comedy, Yasper’s is a musical, etc. In some cases, these genre takes are quite pronounced – an episode is animated, for example, and the musical numbers tend to stand out. But in other installments, like Brett’s action movie story, there’s a little less of that concept stuff, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it helps the show stay together.

What the show is not, in particular, is extremely funny. It is funand his clever, but it’s more gently funny than you might think. There’s a fair amount of warmth, actually, towards all of these weirdos and their blocks, even though, presumably, one of them killed someone. It feels a bit more like a tongue-in-cheek examination of how adults stay at the mercy of themselves in high school than a goofy party movie or something with that vibe.

‘The Afterparty’ is Apple’s comedic mystery with a killer cast: NPR

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Oh look, it’s Dave Franco, playing the world’s most heinous murder victim.

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‘The Afterparty’ is Apple’s comedic mystery with a killer cast: NPR

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Oh look, it’s Dave Franco, playing the world’s most heinous murder victim.

AppleTV

That said, here’s the caveat I would have: they didn’t offer the last episode to critics, only the first seven out of eight. The latter is where it looks like Danner is going to solve the case (which only makes sense). So I have no idea if the actual solution to this mystery is (1) satisfying; (2) consistent with this tone I’m talking about; (3) boring; (4) out of nowhere; or (5) whatever. It’s a show that could easily get better or worse at the last minute as it tries to pull those threads together, and there’s simply no way of knowing. I have a guess as to what the answer might be, but I have no idea if it’s correct (so I couldn’t mess it up if I wanted to, which, as always, I don’t).

I don’t think it’s a Great show, but I think it’s a solid show, and I started to like these people as they told their different stories. I’m kind of rooting for all of them as we approach the finale.

Except, presumably, for a murderer.

‘The Afterparty’ is Apple’s comedic mystery with a killer cast: NPR

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