When TBS’ new comedy “Search Party” debuted on Nov. 21, it seemed like another television show that was a poking fun at the supposed self-centeredness of Millennials. So goes the cycle of generational punching-bags; the youngest age demographic is always susceptible to becoming the laughingstock of their elders. And while Baby Boomers have long passed that stage of replacement where they passed down the reins on popular culture to Generation X-ers, Millennials have taken up the mantle of providing them with source material for the entertainment industry. There is a reason that youth culture is always so misrepresented in the media: the ones who depict it are well beyond the age they attempt to mimic. Mocking certain aspects of being young is all too simple, and many a movie and television show has resorted to this kind of humor. But “Search Party,” which is written by Michael Showalter of Netflix’s reincarnation show “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” takes Millennial entitlement and apprehension and repackages it in a missing-person, clueless-detective story.
There is a reason that youth culture is always so misrepresented in the media: the ones who depict it are well beyond the age they attempt to depict.
In the span of five hours (two half-hour episodes over five nights), Showalter and co-creators Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers play on Millennial stereotypes to stretch what seems like a challenging premise. “Typical” Brooklyn millennial Dory is played by Alia Shawkat of “Arrested Development” cult fame. When Dory gets news of the disappearance of a college classmate, she and her posse of friends become transfixed — she finds a direction in a misguided generation.
This set-up seems destined for mediocrity, at best. Shawkat’s role as a distanced outsider seems to parallel her path through Hollywood. Since her semi-breakout role in “Arrested Development,” she has drifted in and out of being cast as the millennial archetype that “Search Party” so needs to make its statement about youth in the 21st century. Her character is confronted with the same existential crisis that many of her peers try to deny, as if the writers are painting this generation in the same disaffected light as the Lost Generation. But instead of being disillusioned with the world and unable to settle into life after war, their generation is narcissistic and obnoxious, and embodies the insecurities that come with entitlement.
As for the plot, it becomes apparent that this mystery drags Dory out of her sheltered clique. However, “Search Party” is not a coming of age story. Like her boss says, she’s “good at doing all the things no one else wants to do.”
“Search Party” is a story for the anti-millennial, for the person who likes to cringe at the exaggerated self-centeredness of a generation growing up around instant gratification.