Many of the jokes in The Afterparty have presumably signed up for Jobseeker’s Allowance, because they don’t work. Of course, it’s certainly possible to tell which occurrences and dialogue are intended to be funny, since they are timed and delivered as such. The effectiveness of this relies more on the comedic chops of the excellent cast, instead of any implicit humour in the script (and even then, the maximum result is mild amusement, instead of any belly laughs). Apple TV+’s new show is pitched as a comedy murder mystery, and while the comedy is largely MIA, the show does its best to lean into the intrigue of the murder mystery. Its best may not be good enough.
The class of 2006 have reunited for their high school reunion, which was followed by (as may have already been guessed) an afterparty, taking place at an elegantly bland clifftop mansion overlooking the ocean. One of the group takes a tumble off the cliff, and Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) is on the case. This wasn’t a suicide, and everyone at the party has a motive, amplified by years of misunderstandings and resentment stemming from right back in high school.
Each episode focuses on a different character being interviewed by Haddish’s Detective Danner, as they recall their own version of the night in question, with each account captured in a unique visual style to differentiate each potential suspect. Though this approach may not be as novel as intended, it does give the show a solid structure, even if the whodunnit elements of the narrative occasionally risk becoming who cares whodunnit. Haddish is aided by a fantastic cast, featuring Jamie Demetriou, Dave Franco, Ilana Glazer and Sam Richardson. None of the performers seem to be challenged by their stock characters, but they conduct themselves extremely well, especially given the indistinctive nature of the material.
There’s nothing all that wrong with The Afterparty, it’s simply that its miscalculated tone means there’s not all that much right with it either. The show has nicely painted fingernails when it should have claws, and it should have used those claws for a firmer grasp on its own identity.
The Afterparty is released on Apple TV+ on 28th January 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Afterparty here: