HBO Max's acclaimed dark comedy Search Party has already been renewed for a fourth season.
The series, which stars Alia Shawkat, John Reynolds, John Early, and Meredith Hagner, transitioned from TBS to HBO Max in 2019, leading to a long lag between season 2 and season 3.
While no release date has been announced, season 4 is confirmed to have already been shot.
When it debuted in 2016, Search Party was praised for its acerbic wit and its picture perfect skewering of millennial Brooklynites. It never found a massive audience, but the show's blend of modern humor and nail-biting mystery won it fervent fans, and it has stayed on the air for three seasons.
A major change took place between season 2 and season 3, the latter of which was shot in 2018, but didn't debut until June 25, 2020. Search Party moved from its original home on TBS to HBO Max. With the network change, the show's tone has shifted too, now dipping its toes into the world of legal thrillers, while still keeping the jokes coming at a frenetic pace.
"Every step of Search Party has been unpredictable, from the way it got picked up, to the good reviews to kind of being considered a 'cult show,'" co-creator Sarah-Violet Bliss told The Playlist. "And now we’re on a bigger platform… It’s weird, It’s like the writing of this show, you kind of let it go where it needs to go.
With season 3 available to stream, let's look ahead to season 4, and the exciting future of Search Party.
When can we expect season 4 of Search Party to be released?
The good news is that we know HBO Max has renewed Search Party for a new season, the bad news is it's still unclear when exactly that'll air.
Season 4 was shot between December 2019 and February 2020, meaning the show could return to air quickly, especially in comparison to the two year delay between season 2 and season 3 (which was also due to the series switching networks).
Projections as of now have Search Party coming back in June 2021.
The third season resembles true crime and legal dramas.
Interviewing the cast, a writer for The A.V. Club likened the tone and courtroom drama of Search Party season 3 to The Pelican Brief and fellow HBO show The Jinx, and Shawkat said she drew inspiration from Netflix's Amanda Knox.
"For this show, I watched the documentary on Amanda Knox, which I thought was really well done. It’s kind of fascinating, watching her talk to the camera about something. You want to believe she’s innocent, and I do," Shawkat said. "But then you’re also like, well, why is she talking so strange? That was more of an inspiration for the entire season, but I love those kinds of shows."
Early had a similar sentiment, noting he had watched and been greatly affected by The Jinx. Later in that same interview, Shawkat talked about the show both mirroring and upending the typical true crime narrative, since in Search Party the victim is a man and the accused murderer is a woman.
"It’s something my mom and her friends and I had a phase where I was obsessed with true crime stories—and the more gruesome, the better, which is just so f*cked up. But I think there’s something about women like connecting… 'titillating' maybe isn’t the right word, but just like, you feel the fear of it more than a man, who’s like Ah, I’d get out of that,'" she said.
love them or hate them still an ~obsession~ pic.twitter.com/bNedTHqWH5
— Search Party (@searchpartymax) July 28, 2020
Dory will continue to evolve in unexpected ways im season 4.
Shawkat's Dory is at the center of Search Party's acclaimed ensemble, and as the show has grown darker and deeper, so too has she become more emotionally complex. At times, she verges on almost being a kind of antihero, something the writers acknowledge, but say they aren't afraid will cause viewers to not connect with her.
"I’m not necessarily concerned or worried if the audience is going to lose her. I’m just curious about staying with her, understanding her choices, not necessarily making sure that the audience, empathizes, with her, but at least understanding where she’s coming from," Violet-Bliss said. In a way, we’re creating a challenge."
As Season 4 ratchets up the stakes, expect to see Dory making more dire decisions and Shawkat showing her full dramatic range.
The show keeps rounding out its supporting cast.
While the core four characters remain the heart of Search Party, the show's creators have been willing to tweak around the edges and bring in fresh faces for varying roles.
Season 3 in particular includes SNL's Chloe Fineman, Michaela Watkins, and Shalita Grant. Playing Dory's lawyer, Grant won praise, and she spoke to Vulture about channeling her "aggressive commitment to the bright side" for laughs that felt tonally consistent with the show.
"I’ve gotten myself into a lot of very funny but also ridiculous situations in my actual life. So when I read the character description, I wanted to stay in the world of Search Party. I didn’t know the show until I got an audition, and I binged both seasons and was obsessed, so it was important to stay within that world and drew from as much of my own reality as possible," she said. "Search Party is super-specific, and I felt seen. It is ridiculous and totally my world, as far as comedy is concerned."
John Early also talked about how Watkins's character adds another layer to the show's satirization of millennials, this time poking fun at older people's obsession with the generation.
"People really do feed off of the kind of sick hatred of millennials. People want to see them suffer," he said. "I don’t think millennials necessarily feel represented by this show, but I think it’s cathartic to watch the kind of stereotype of a millennial get tested."
Season 3 ends with a colossal cliffhanger.
As it's wont to do, Search Party packed huge drama into its latest season finale. After Dory beats a murder trial dating back to Season 1, she's captured by an unknown stalker and chained in a basement. Though it seems Dory is at odds with her ex-boyfriend, Drew, with Portia and Elliot still in her corner, the most likely outcome for them is to band together and form a brand new search party of their own. As for Dory, it's unclear whether she'll be coerced into a confession for the crime she just narrowly avoided prison over.
Search Party has consistently found ways to reinvent itself, and the only thing we know for sure with season 4 is to expect laughter, anxiety, and plot twists that turn the whole thing on its head.
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