A big splashy wedding takes a nosedive when the groom is murdered, and every guest becomes a suspect. Welcome to season two The Afterparty. Good news: The hit Apple TV+ crime comedy tops and delivers even more surprises in its second season, which finds Sam Richardson and Zoë Chao reprising their roles as Aniq and Zoë, respectively. It doesn’t take long before Aniq and Zoë lure Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) back for another head-scratching whodunit.
A slew of family members, star-crossed lovers, and business partners are prime for grilling as each suspect recounts their version of what went down over the wedding weekend. Each episode is told in a different genre, and this year’s ensemble cast is in top form.
There’s John Cho — a major standout — Paul Walter Hauser, Ken Jeong, Vivian Wu, Jack Whitehall in full smarmy mode, the ingenious Zach Woods, a delightful Anna Konkle (PEN15), and Elizabeth Perkins being, well, Elizabeth Perkins at her best. The delightful surprise: This season feels fresh, funny, inventive, and full of twists.
Who Killed the Party?
Created by Oscar-winner Christopher Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), season two of The Afterparty returns with 10 episodes and a story that not only looked good on paper but was executed with panache.
Destination wedding events can be hit or miss in TV and film. (Sorry, George and Julia, Ticket to Paradise delivered a shaky trip.) Here, Miller takes Sam and Zoë to the wedding of Grace (Poppy Liu), Zoë’s sister, and nothing goes as planned. Edgar (Zach Woods), the groom, is a successful businessman with plenty of quirks. For starters, he walks around with his pet lizard on his shoulder. Lots of separation anxiety going on there and the fella never makes it to the honeymoon — Edgar, and the lizard for that matter.
It doesn’t help that mommy, Isabel (played with biting wit by Elizabeth Perkins) is an acerbic booze-guzzler who never shies from speaking her mind. Edgar’s sister Hannah (Anna Konkle) seems sweet, but there’s something off there, too, and it’s fun to watch how the Hannah-themed episode plays out in the vein of Wes Anderson.
Zoë and Grace’s parents, Feng and Vivian (Ken Jeong and Vivian Wu), are holding their cards close to their chest. Meanwhile, the surprise appearance of “uncle” Ulysses (John Cho) at a sprawling dinner celebration reveals even more tension in the family. Look for Jack Whitehall’s Sebastian, Edgar’s longtime pal and business associate, to chew up the scenery at every turn, and Paul Walter Hauser’s Travis, who seems to have arrived from nowhere, to generate more speculation.
By episode two, once Haddish’s Detective Danner begins having her way with this crew, it’s revealed that more than one person didn’t want Grace to go through the wedding. But is that enough for them to put an end to the marriage? First murder, then mayhem.
Plots Twists and Other Surprises
This season, Miller brought in Anthony King as co-showrunner. King was a writer on season one and clearly understands the tone of the show. The drama in season ome unfolded in one night, but this time around, the canvas has expanded. Everything happens over the course of a weekend.
Fortunately, the writers — and the cast for that matter — rarely stumble here. There were many points during the season when things could have truly soured, but even in some genre-specific episodes that don’t necessarily entice all around, there’s plenty to enjoy. The genres/episodes that truly stand out: Konkle’s Wes Anderson-themed episode, which feature a major plot twist, and there’s a Bridgerton vibe in one episode that should delight.
Other things to know: One year has passed since Detective Danner solved the murder of pop star Xavier (Dave Franco), thereby clearing the names of former high school classmates Aniq and Zoë, who may be at a crossroads in their relationship here. Danner, we learn, has left the San Francisco Police Department and wants to leap off her newfound fame to become an author. Haddish’s Danner-centric episode is a hoot and bound to generate laughs. This is Tiffany Haddish, so this comedic force knows how to land a scene.
Red herrings and plot twists abound here. Zach Woods delivers a fine turn as the doomed Edgar, and Poppy Liu and Anna Konkle deliver plenty to nosh on in their individual and shared scenes. Sam Richardson, a fine comic actor, manages to keep things grounded even when the joke is on his character, Aniq. And the platonic chemistry between him and Haddish seems even more nuanced this time around.
Best of all, there’s Elizabeth Perkins. She does more than steal scenes; she enlivens them so much that her presence sends this already enjoyable romp to even greater heights. In an era when so many shows feel weighed down by their plots and being “woke” enough that everything tends to just feel watered down in the execution, The Afterparty is one of those rare shows that keep things light while still being interesting. No mystery here: This is the show to watch.
The Afterparty season two debuts on Apple TV+ on July 7.