Technically, The Afterparty is one show, a murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie that tracks what happens when the celebration following a high school reunion becomes the site of tragedy for an obnoxious pop singer (Dave Franco).
But it also could be said to be many different shows, as every member of the all-star cast, including Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, and Jamie Demetriou, is a suspect, and as Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) interviews them, their version of events mimics a popular genre of entertainment.
Each episode thus focuses on one genre, from rom-com to action movie to musical and more, as meticulously recreated by creator Chris Miller, which he says evolved organically out of his original concept for the series.
“I grew up loving murder mysteries, I read all of the Agatha Christie books and watched Columbo religiously and movies like Clue and anything I could get my hands on,” he tells Consequence during a recent press day. “I always loved how it would make me feel when a good murder mystery happened, like it was all right there in front of me and I didn’t see it. It was both surprising and satisfying.”
From there, he says, “I got the idea to try one in Rashomon style, where each character would provide a different version of their view of what happened on the night and it would all add up to something, and that is where I got excited.”
While it had originally been a potential feature film idea, once it became a TV series, executive producer Phil Lord says, “that opened up the opportunity to treat each episode as its own genre, the way everyone is the hero of their own narrative. They star in their own movies so it seemed only natural to depict each person’s story in the way that they imagine it.”
Adds Miller, “Each one of these is like its own little movie, and each one has its own music and lighting and lenses and camera work and costumes. There’s slight variations in everyone’s costume from episode to episode to match the style… It’s complicated, it’s really ambitious. But that’s part of the fun, is that you’re doing something that hasn’t been done before. That’s what we like to do we never really have it any other way.”
While playing with genres in this way is on the surface a fun aspect of the series, it also has a deeper thematic purpose. As Miller says, it explores “the idea that everyone sees the world through a different lens, and people that you may think of one way are actually seeing the world another way, and it’s also an opportunity to get into their internal life and visualize what they’re feeling.”