15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Search Party’

The show that can be described as ‘Gone Girl’ meets ‘Girls’ meets...Hitchcock?
15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Search Party’

Search Party might be billed as a dark comedy, but it’s so much more than that, with every season having its own defining tone and genre. It was, first and foremost, a show that satirized millennial stereotypes and leaned heavily into the world’s general disdain for their generation — specifically from that time. It was also a show that would flip from being a Scooby-Doo mystery to a court case dramedy to a full-blown sci-fi cult extravaganza — again, all through the lens of millennial culture and a group of twentysomethings searching for their identities. 

And make no mistake, they’re all terrible. Seriously. These creative urbanites are among the worst of the worst in TV history, and that’s precisely what makes them so funny.

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Filled with a truckload of savage jokes and featuring an absolutely killer cast, here are some trivia tidbits about Search Party...

The Final Day of Filming Was a (Natural) Disaster

Alia Shawkat (Dory) and John Early (Elliott) told NPR that there were flash floods in New York courtesy of Hurricane Ida on the final day of shooting. “And so they, like, walked into our last scene, and they’re like, and that is a series wrap on Search Party,” Early said. “We have to go right now… And, like, John Reynolds’ trailer was flooding. Like, it was just like we’ve never had a proper hug and cry.”

“The last shot was an insert on a computer,” Reynolds (Dory’s boyfriend, Drew) remembered. “We were all getting these flash flood warnings. We were all standing around the computer being like ‘Is this really going to be the last shot? I guess this is fitting.’ And then, yeah, I had to put on wellies and wade through water and go pick up all my shit.”

The Crew Members Are All in the Final Episode’s Missing Persons Posters


The cast and crew may not have had one final group circle on the last day of filming, but the day itself was pretty emotional. “All the photos of the missing people are crew members,” Shawkat told Vanity Fair. “So there is this real moment where we’re looking at everyone who was involved in making the show over the last five years. And it just really hit us. Everything slowed down. We all held each other and cried and laughed.”

The Nancy Drew Inspiration

As mentioned earlier, every one of the five seasons has its own vibe, flipping from psychological thriller to sci-fi madness. The first season, in which the group of friends searches for their missing not-really-friend Chantal, leans toward the mysteries of Nancy Drew, with the promotional posters clearly alluding to its inspiration.

Art by Sam Hadley for TBS

It All Started with a True-Crime Podcast

As Showalter explained for an oral history of the show: “What was happening in the culture at that time was Serial. We were working on Wet Hot, and we were all listening to Serial and talking about it. And the hook was, what if there’s a mystery to solve, where you had these kind of Brooklyn intellectuals driving around in the middle of the night in a dangerous part of town? And then we kind of ran with it from there.”

It Was No Flashy Hollywood Production

Search Party was production company Jax Media’s first independent show, which means the budget was tight and shooting was scrappy. “There was no hair and makeup trailer,” John Early has explained. “There was just whatever room we were shooting in, there was just a chair and a shitty mirror in the corner. I didn’t know anything about what it meant to have a job in TV, and so I remember the hair person just taking some clippers and like (makes razor noises). I just assumed like, ‘They know what’s best.’ I didn’t know you could collaborate and say something. It never crossed my mind that I would be stuck, for at least a season, with that haircut, for continuity. I just was horrified. In a split-second, I was stuck with an alt-right haircut. I was walking around Brooklyn like, ‘No, no, no. No, this isn’t me.’”

Christine Taylor (who plays Dory’s boss, Gail) has remembered once filming in the production designer’s Brooklyn apartment: “Wardrobe was in there, hair and makeup. We changed in his bathroom. And I just remember there were two cats in the bathroom (and a sign) saying, ‘Don’t leave the door open. Don’t let the cats out.’”

Early Helped Brandon Micheal Hall Calm His Nerves on Set

Search Party was Juilliard graduate Hall’s first regular role, and he later revealed that he was pretty nervous acting opposite some of his cast members. “There’s a scene that John (Early) and I have when I revealed to him that I know his cancer story is a whole lie, and I remember I couldn’t get the line out,” Hall told Entertainment Weekly. “It just did not click. In that particular moment, I saw John Early; I saw him as a comedic genius (and thought), ‘I don’t want to mess up in front of John; he’s always improving and working.’ But I remember right before we had taken our lunch break because we could not get the take before the lunch break; I remember John reaching over to me and was like, ‘Yo, you went to school for this. Just breathe. Just relax.’ And in that moment, he helped me ground into who Julian was, the good and the bads of Julian, and it’s nice.”

The Concept of the Show Came from a Personal Place

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Rogers said that both he and Bliss have “this history” in their families. “We’re both very interested in personalities on the fringe of narcissism and sociopathy and entitlement,” the co-creator explained. “So, there are personalities and characters that we really like to represent. It was just a new adventure for us to be able to put people like the ones we like to satirize in a place of danger, and genre, and mystery, and that was like a totally new thing for us.”

The Amanda Knox Case Influenced Season Three

In the show’s third season, Dory and Drew stand trial for what went down back in Season One. Rogers told Queerty that the season was inspired by the Amanda Knox saga that captured the world’s attention. “I don’t know if that’s a legal problem,” he joked when asked about it. “There’s an episode in this season that is supposed to be a 60 Minutes-style show that Dory goes on. It’s very inspired by Amanda Knox’s 60 Minutes interview.”

The Original Idea Was for Dory to Die in the End

The creators said that due to believing that Season Four would be the last, they were fine with Dory dying and for that to be the end of it. However, while filming the season, the idea didn’t click. “There was something really interesting about using Dory’s death as a turning point rather than the show’s ending — it could say something about her being on the other side of the huge journey she’d had leading up to it,” Rogers told The Spool. “So while we were shooting Season Four, we started coming up with different ideas for Season Five. We wanted to go out with a huge bang, a really explosive ‘hard to believe that we did it’ kind of ending.”

The Inspirations Behind the Final Season

The fifth and final season saw Dory, after having a near-death experience at the hands of a disturbed fan, find enlightenment and, with it, cult status — as in actual cult status. She partners up with tech billionaire Tunnel Quinn (played by Jeff Goldblum) and acquires a cult of followers who believe that enlightenment can be bottled into a pill. Rogers said there were quite a few real-life people they looked at for this turn of events: “Marianne Williamson, Elon (laughs) — wait no, I mean Elizabeth Holmes. (The Indian philosopher) Swami Rapmda and a lot of big spiritual thinkers were really influential in developing Dory’s new way of being this season.”

Goldblum’s Character Was More of an Elon Type

Said the actor: “They’ve described my character as an Elon Musk or Richard Branson. I like it because his character is full of surprises — I dress very over-the-top, but he’s also a very effective salesperson. What I love about the whole show is it’s spectacularly, psychologically pyrotechnic.”

Shalita Grant Had a Unique Approach to Acting in the Series

More specifically, Grant (who played Cassidy) didn’t learn her lines. “I never know my lines,” she told GoldDerby during an interview about her work on the show. “I don’t learn them. I don’t learn them the night before; I don’t learn them the morning of. I learn them probably about 10 minutes before we go up.” She elaborated by saying that it gives her room to “go with the flow,” especially when rewrites ended up happening (as they often do). Instead, she’d “listen in a very specific way” to her fellow actors in any given scene and respond appropriately. “It’s a tightrope that I walk, I know!”

The Actors Informed the Evolution of the Show

Rogers specifically mentioned Early as leading the show into a heightened state of insanity. “Elliott’s starting point was a bit more ‘in the real world’ in the pilot,” Rogers revealed. “As the show found its tone, everyone heightened, but in a good way. A big part of it was (casting) John Early and sinking into what people would love to see John do. Specifically, in the second season, when Elliott goes paranoid-insane and is manic, that was an excuse to take John all the way. All of the actors are the reason the characters are as colorful as they are. They each have a dynamism we want to bring out.” 

Rogers, a gay man himself, added: “Also, I’m surrounded by a lot of narcissistic gay men, and it’s an endless conveyor belt to make fun of them.”

The Show Is Really About Dory’s Psychology

The creators explained that the show is all about what’s going on in Dory’s mind and how that manifests in her life. “If you want meaning so badly in life, if you want to find meaning, you’ll find it because you’ll create it,” Rogers elaborated. “So, ultimately, none of the mystery is true, but everything Dory wanted to be true is, in a way, true, because she was making it true. By the end of the (first season), she actually has manifested a mystery, or danger, or whatever, because they’ve killed someone. They were living in the normal world, and Dory wanted them to live in the mystery world, and by the end of the show, they actually are in mystery world, because she has summoned it.”

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