Since its premiere in 2016, the sitcom Search Party has developed a cult following. The dark comedy tells the tale of the disappearance of Chantal Witherbottom and a group of friends who suddenly find themselves involved with the mystery.
In the most recent season, characters Dory Sief (Alia Shawkat) and Drew Gardner (John Reynolds) are on trial for the murder of Keith Powell, a private investigator who Dory mistakenly believed to be a threat to Chantal. While it's made clear to the audience that the pair did in fact commit the murder, (spoiler alert!) season 3 ends with their acquittal. Despite the fact that the episodes were shot long before nationwide protests erupted in response to police brutality, many fans have found the finale timely, as it questions the criminal justice system's capacity for fairness.
“When we were thinking of the idea for the third season, we wanted it to be starkly satirical in the way that the show has always been about inept, privileged people being in too deep,” says Search Party co-creator Charles Rogers. “We wanted this season to keep reflecting that commentary. Even though we wrote and shot it two years ago, it only seems like that theme has become more and more prevalent.”
Born in Dallas, Rogers has fond memories growing up in Texas. While he spent most of his childhood in Brownsville, he frequently returned to the city to visit extended family, spend time with his cousins outdoors and shop at Northpark Center.
Rogers earned his bachelor’s degree in film at St. Edward’s University in Austin and later attended grad school at New York University. The summer before his NYU graduation, Rogers teamed up with Sarah-Violet Bliss to create their thesis film, Fort Tilden.
“We took out a ton of loans to make it,” Rogers says of production, “and really forced ourselves through the grind of the whole experience.”
What started off as a school project became an entry at the 2014 SXSW film festival, where Fort Tilden won the Grand Jury Award. Rogers and Bliss took this as a sign that they should move to Los Angeles, and created a project that would eventually become Search Party.
Search Party premiered on TBS in 2016, and immediately became a hit. When it came time to roll out third season, however, Rogers and Bliss learned that TBS had been bought by TurnerMedia Entertainment, which derailed production.
“We had already written and shot the third season, but we were told it would move to HBO Max,” Rogers says. “It was bittersweet news because we knew that more people were going to be able to see the show on HBO Max, but it also meant having to hold off for a bit. But overall, it meant that we got a season four.”
After a nearly two-year hiatus, Search Party’s third season premiered on HBO Max last month.
Rogers is quarantining with family in the Texas Hill Country. During this time, he says he's come to enjoy different media of art.
“I’ve been more creative than I have been in years, weirdly, because of COVID,” Rogers says. “I think I get stir crazy really easily, and luckily that results in me making stuff. I made a cartoon for my Instagram page that was just really silly, and has a bunch of voices from friends in comedy. And it's just made me really fall in love with animation and I’m cooking up an idea in that department.”
Although the pandemic has halted production of several television programs, fans of Search Party need not fret. The show's fourth season has already been filmed and is in post-production. Rogers promises that this season will bring more of the relevant commentary that fans love. He also assures us that the wait won’t be as long.
“Season 4 gets crazier,” Rogers says. “It gets a lot darker, but it also gets a lot sillier to counteract the darkness. There’s also some really exciting casting that I can’t wait to talk about one day.”
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