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‘Search Party’ darkest season finds millennial kidnapped by ‘the Twink’

Search Party started in 2016 as you’d expect a satire of hip, urban millennials to begin: at brunch.

There was Dory from Alia Shawkat, an underemployed graduate who meandered around in search of a goal. John Early’s Elliott, playing the “gay quippy” character in the group of friends, described his profession as “I just like projects”. John Reynolds’ Drew was the fainting blank slate familiar to anyone who spent time living on the L train in Brooklyn. And Meredith Hagner’s Portia was one of the most unique concoctions of all, a narcissist with a bleeding heart.

Over the mimosas, they chatter about the disappearance of a former classmate they barely knew, seeing the concern for performance as an opportunity for both purpose and attention. They tweet about the missing “sweet girl”.

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The show was a very observant portrayal of the wayward millennials who actually had respect for their travels, as unbearable as they might seem, instead of making fun of them. But mimosas and avocado toast speeches were just gateway drugs to the trippy way Research group would deteriorate over the next two seasons.

There was a murder, a cover-up and an investigation. Then another murder and trial, followed by a media frenzy – and a made-for-TV movie about it all. Season four picks up with the final jaw-dropping twist: Dory has been kidnapped by The Twink.

That alone is enough proof that the series hasn’t lost its absurd humor or sense of evil, even as it rushed to become, improbably, one of television’s darkest shows.

Even series creators Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers find themselves in shock when they take a moment to look at where the series began and where it is now, a shift from point A to point B that couldn’t be more. radical.

“When we first blocked it, we realized it wasn’t funny at first,” Bliss laughs, talking about the storyboard for the new season. With so many callbacks to previous mysteries, past characters, and unresolved threads, the process sometimes threatened to turn the Writers’ Room into Carrie Mathison’s apartment on Country.

She is amazed at how early the arc of the new season has appeared. “It’s like it never gets funny. But then you go, oh yeah, now we add the humor.

“We knew it was going to get so dark and we wanted the comedy to be as loud as the horror,” Rogers adds. “So we set up with the ambition to let things go further and further with comedy.”

Enter the twink.

It would be nearly impossible to completely catch up with anyone on the tangle of storylines leading up to Thursday’s season four premiere – let alone explain without the story from previous seasons why shortening the season’s Big Bad villain. “The Twink” is a well-deserved comedy genius, and not offensive – but here is the quickest attempt.

In search of their missing classmate, Dory and Drew accidentally kill someone. It takes a while, but they are arrested and brought to justice, which becomes an Amanda Knox-like tabloid sensation. They become media stars, attracting fans and stalkers. Chip, played by Cole Escola (who goes by pronouns), becomes obsessed with Dory, fashioning a doll of her and convincing herself that she is their best friend.

Chip disguises himself as a catering server for the Twinkies Company, which hires attractive, skinny gay men to serve at events, and infiltrates Elliott’s wedding, which Dory attended. After a series of assaults against the group of friends, they are branded “The Twink”.

When Dory breaks free at the end of her murder trial in the season three finale, Chip, “The Twink,” kidnaps her. When we catch up in the season four premiere, they hold her hostage in solitary confinement, brainwashing her into thinking they’re besties.

Oh, also Chip in a crossover dress as a woman named Lila in public.

The idea of ​​Escola playing “The Twink” evolved from a fortuitous cast of the actor in season three without a firm plan for the character in season four other than wanting Escola to be a part of it. . Because Chip was introduced to the series through the Twinkies Restoration, the Writers’ Room started calling them “The Twink” in shorthand, and that stuck.

Each season of Research group takes on a new tone, transforming the series into something that feels like an entirely different show each season and pays homage to the classics of the genre it faces.

The first season turned its passionate observational comedy about Millennials into an action thriller about hipsters exploiting their anxieties in the search for a missing person. Season two became a murder mystery that was on equal parts Hitchcockian and Scooby-Doo, while season three took on the identity of a procedural – or dramatic – drama with My cousin Vinny, Die for, and Bling ring serving as key inspirations.

For the fourth season, “we were inspired Misery and ThesilenceofthelambsBliss said. Adding to the list of benchmarks you would never expect in a comedy series: Room, the traumatic Oscar-winning film in which Brie Larson plays a mom held captive in one room with her son. As the desperate Dory, MacGyvers has ways of escaping his Twink-held imprisonment, old slasher flicks, and survival thrillers that the protagonists can’t pause come to mind.

For it to work, let alone entertain, it had to be Escola in the role of kidnapper. The story of the comedian and the performer of playing with genre and absurdity has just the right insane streak to make the storyline as humorous as it is disturbing. “The Twink is psychotic in a specific creative way that only Cole can pull off,” Bliss says.

Take, for example, the song Chip sings as they walk to their hideout with Dory tied up in the trunk. (Dark.) They happily sing Deee-Lite’s’ 90s classic get-ya-ass-on-the-dance-floor, “Groove Is in the Heart.” (Funny!)

It is their happy song; they sing it when they think Dory is getting along with them. It’s their song of torture; they blow it up in Dory’s room when she’s playing. In any setting, the song that most of us reminds of drunken wedding dance floors is perfectly, deliciously absurd.

“When we went out [Deee-Lite] for this song, we realized that they’re very picky about how it’s used, ”says Bliss. “When we told them the story, they were ready to use it, which is certainly interesting considering the story we were telling.

Rogers laughed, “We were like, ‘This is going to be used as torture, but trust us it’s going to be funny and awesome. We promise it’s a compliment. ”

In some ways, this is a testament to just how compelling and bouncy the song is, that its best use in a TV series is juxtaposition to such a sinister storyline. “We also liked the idea that, on an implied level, Chip fell in love with this song from a place of pain early in life,” says Rogers. “Like it’s Chip’s happy song.”

As the desperate Dory, MacGyvers has ways of escaping his Twink-held imprisonment, old slasher flicks, and survival thrillers that the protagonists can’t take a break from come to mind.

All that to say that Research group is an unusual sight. (Other storylines this season involve Portia playing Dory in a made-for-TV movie about her murder trial, Elliott posing as a radical conservative in order to become a cable news star, and Drew attempting to disguise himself as working in costume at a theme park called Merry Merry Land.) His path to season four is no less unusual.

The series ran for two seasons on TBS, earning great reviews and garnering a cult fan base. But it was never an audience juggernaut. When WarnerMedia launched HBO Max, Research group switched to streaming service. The third season of the series had already been filmed for TBS when the transfer from HBO Max came with an order for season four. It meant writing the new season before anyone had seen season three, without comments from critics or fans.

“It was like we were rich kids making something,” says Rogers. “Like we got a check from our parents but there was no hearing.”

An echo chamber can be a blessing in disguise; this allowed the strangeness of the spectacle to remain intact. A series with this complicated mythology, this sprawling web of characters and storylines that viewers need to remember, and that level of obscurity is usually an antihero cable drama that you’ll find on HBO or AMC – not a comedy series that airs. premiered on TBS laughing at the fate of millennials.

“From our perspective, we keep writing what we like, and then our immediate social circle of friends are the people who give us feedback,” says Rogers. “But then there’s a whole other world. Every once in a while I look at reviews, Reddit threads, or Twitter feeds, and people will always be like, ‘When is the show getting funny? Like, oh, that’s so interesting – forgot some people just won’t get it.

Those who do are in a new season that, while charging full blast through the looking glass with its meta twists, still looks like the Research group Her cult fans love it: At the end of the day, it’s a season about a bunch of millennials looking for their missing friend. In this case, it’s Dory.

And, before I joke, yes, Bliss and Rogers know what they should have called the season.

Finding Dory, yes, ”Bliss laughs. Adds Rogers: “We’re actually really upset with the Pixar movie for having existed before our season four.”

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