Since its launch in 2019, Apple TV+ has come out with an onslaught of some of the best shows on TV. The streamer is full of Full Circle Cinema favorites like Ted Lasso, Servant, and The Shrink Next Door at the center of discussion. Apple TV+’s latest endeavor seeks to mix an all-star comedic cast with a wildly witty whodunnit in The Afterparty. However, what sets this series apart from other comedy-mystery hybrids is the way the story plays out. With Apple’s The Afterparty, each episode is a retelling of how a high school reunion led to someone’s murder through the eyes of each attendee. This unique take on the genre offers thrilling perspectives and allows the viewer to follow common threads throughout each episode.
As expected, Apple TV+ begins the era of The Afterparty by releasing its first three episodes all at once. The first three stories follow the events of the evening through the eyes of Aniq (Sam Richardson), Brett (Ike Barinholtz), and Yasper (Ben Schwartz). Each perspective is recounted to told to Tiffany Haddish’s Detective Danner. Thanks to the creative mind of the show’s creator and director Christopher Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), the series borrows elements from popular genres of film. The Afterparty allows each character to find their own unique identity.
For Aniq, its a rom-com. Desperate to rekindle a high school flame with Zoe (Zoë Chao), Aniq retells his evening by filling it with meet-cutes and deluge. The murder victim, famous actor and singer Xavier (Dave Franco), spends the night trying to woo Zoe as well. Naturally, Aniq becomes suspect #1. Throughout his version, Xavier is consistently exhibiting typical pompous behavior. But, is that a motive for murder?
Knowing he is in serious trouble, Aniq ends his conversation with Danner by vowing to find the true killer himself. Sam Richardson shines in his episode as he bounces between a lovesick Aniq and a determined Aniq trying to clear his name. Written by Oscar Winner Christopher Miller himself, the episode succeeds in setting the stakes as well as introducing the characters.
Episode two somewhat poetically focuses on the night that Zoe’s ex-husband Brett had at the reunion. With the always enigmatic Ike Barinholtz as this episode’s protagonist, the installment borrows inspiration from the action genre of films. Notably, in the more hilariously serious moments, Barinholtz channels his inner Vin Diesel from the Fast & Furious franchise.
Throughout the 35-minute runtime, it’s clear that Brett has long-term beef with Xavier, as well as almost everyone else he comes into contact with. Barinholtz displays some exquisite chemistry with Dave Franco in a hysterical scene in which they have a literal pissing contest at the urinals. Xavier blatantly expresses his desire to sleep with Zoe, enraging Brett. This simultaneously gives him a motive for violence as well.
An additional wrinkle in Brett’s worsening night is the fact that he also had to watch over the daughter he shares with Zoe. Turns out Brett’s terrible taste in people extends to choosing a babysitter as well. His daughter soon joins him and her mom at the reunion. The chaotic nature of episode two brings big laughs and furthers the mystery surrounding who murdered Xavier. Additionally, as Detective Danner continues to interview potential suspects, viewers are beginning to put the pieces together as well.
Episode three is, quite possibly, the best offering of the premiere episodes. Following the delightfully disordered activities of Yasper (Ben Schwartz), the theme of this installment is movie musicals. Schwartz wows as Yasper; he performs not one, but THREE musical numbers. Additionally, Yasper’s motivation for his evening is to get his musical talents on Xavier’s radar.
Turns out, before the riches and the fame, Xavier was in a band with Yasper in high school. However, disagreements between Xavier and Yasper’s lifelong best friend Aniq led to the band breaking up. This is the root of the bad blood we see simmering between them. All night, in-between his absolutely masterful musical numbers, Yasper is desperate to find some time with Xavier to talk about a future collaboration.
Throughout the first two episodes, Yasper is presented as a quasi-sidekick to Aniq, assisting him in trying to solve the mystery and clear his name. Thanks to episode three, Ben Schwartz is once again able to pull off what he’s becoming famous for: stealing the show. Unlocking some hidden musical gifts as well as a becoming potential star on the rise, Schwartz is easily the MVP of the stacked cast.
With The Afterparty, Apple TV+ has another hit on its hands. With a looming mystery and no clear-cut answers as to who did it, the whodunnit aspect is thriving after three episodes. Between Haddish and Schwartz’s performances and director Christopher Miller’s stellar writing, the comedy is a breath of fresh air for this year’s television. The stage is set for a thrilling race against the clock to discover the killer through more uniquely told stories inspired by popular film genres.
New episodes of The Afterparty stream Fridays on Apple TV+.
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