Afterthoughts on “The Afterparty”

A review of The Afterparty, a new show on Apple TV+


From the Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of Apple TV+

Yasper (played by Ben Schwartz, pictured at right) and Aniq (played by Sam Richardson, pictured at left) sing about second chances in the musical-themed episode of “The Afterparty.”

Murder. Intrigue. Suspense. Comedy. That was what The Afterparty, a new show on Apple TV+, promised, and that was what it delivered. But it didn’t just meet expectations: it exceeded them. With an all-star cast, incredibly hilarious writing, and a brilliant and engaging plot, there’s no reason why someone would dislike this show; but if you’re not quite convinced yet, just take a look at these reasons to drop everything and watch this series right now. 

It’s not just any television show that can pull off a balance of information and suspense, giving you just enough information to clue you in, but not enough to give anything away; and yet, The Afterparty manages this beautifully. The story centers around the murder of Xavier, a celebrity singer and actor played by Dave Franco, at the afterparty of a high school reunion, which Tiffany Haddish’s character, Detective Danner, tries to solve. She does so by interviewing all of the suspects, who each tell the story of the night a little differently. 

Have you ever watched a show and been so invested in it that you can’t look away? Every subplot, every character arc, every twist makes you more curious and more excited to reach the resolution, more impatient to find out what happened? When the 30 or so minutes are up, you hold out the remote, eager to click the button on the television that reads “next episode…” but it doesn’t appear. You have to wait another week to see what happens next. 

This type of show would usually not interest me, as I’m not a big fan of murder mysteries in general, but I love comedies as a rule, so I decided to try it out. I was immediately hooked. Telling the story of the aftermath of a murder comedically is not a new concept (Only Murders In The BuildingMurder Mysery…all of Netflix…), but it’s still a good one, and a tried-and-true method is sometimes the way to go. That being said, what sets this show apart might very well be what makes it extremely original: the way it’s told. 

Each episode is in a different character’s perspective of the night of the murder, and it is catered towards their particular personalities. Aniq, for example, went to the reunion in hopes of finding love, so his story is told in the form of a rom-com. Chelsea, on the other hand, wanted revenge; thus, her episode is a psychological thriller. This gives us more insight into the facts of the case, but also the characters, another vital component to the storytelling, world-building, and show as a whole. 

The Afterparty laces the otherwise dark subject of murder with the light humor and occasional laugh-out-loud moments to be expected of the cast, which includes Tiffany Haddish, Ben Schwartz, Sam Richardson, and Ilana Glazer, among other well-known comedians and actors. These are the people that really bring the show together, giving their characters such distinct voices that it feels like you know them well. 

Although the actors make the characters really pop, we can’t forget the genius writing on the part of the writers and the creator, who gave each of them a way to express themselves: their own episode told in their perspective, and in the genre they relate to the most. 

With each new episode, you learn something about the characters: Yasper is that obnoxious friend who wants to be famous, Chelsea has been spiraling since the mysterious events at a Saint Patrick’s Day party, Brett would do anything to get his ex-wife back. Their backstories weave together into the bigger picture that will eventually help solve the murder, but also make us care for the characters much more than if it were told from the perspective of one person. You really get a sense of who these individuals are when you get a peek into how they see themselves and the world, and there’s no better way to do that than to have them star in their own film.

With each episode a different genre, you might think that the show would be messily stitched together, the only common thread being the characters and the overarching plot. But The Afterparty makes the transition seamless, as well as utterly exciting and refreshing. Having a new perspective, both about the murder and about life, makes every 45 minutes seem like a new show, while also linking them together with the intermittent interruptions that show us what is happening in the present. 

There’s something for everybody in this show: even if you don’t like musicals, there’s an episode dedicated to action and adventure. If a film noir isn’t up your alley, there’s always the rom-com episode. Whatever your preference is, you’re sure to like at least one of the episodes… although, in my humble opinion, the overarching plot makes all of them enjoyable to watch. 

Details may only seem like a small part of a TV show, but they can also be the difference between an intricate world infused with life and a dreary, hastily-assembled piece of television, and of the two, The Afterparty is the former. 

Several different people trying to remember the same night, especially when their focus wasn’t on decor or fashion, can prove to be difficult; particularly if they have very different personalities and tend to see the world a little differently. 

What makes this show so special is that it acknowledges this fact, and instead of ignoring it, it embraces the changes: the centerpieces on the tables in the high school auditorium, for example, become fake candles, geometric shapes filled with fairy lights, or fake leaves depending on whose perspective the episode is in. And as for food? There seems to be some confusion about whether salads, desserts, or main courses were being served at the time of a conversation between Aniq and Zoë. 

It’s not all details that you have to look especially hard for, as some are less about exploring a character and more about making an observation of the little things we all experience in daily life. That moment autocorrect mistakes your correctly spelled word for another word? Chelsea is familiar with it, since an unknown texter had to correct one of their threatening messages when they typed “your gonna wish you never came” instead of “you’re.” Relatable, yet also an incredibly funny scene. 

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed my possibly overly-detailed review of this wonderful new show, and I hope you take this advice to go watch it!