Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

7 Best And 7 Worst Episodes Of Search Party According To IMDB

When we discuss the great morally ambiguous protagonists of modern television, we hear a lot about Tony Soprano and Walter White. But do we hear enough about Dory Sief? No, we do not. Created by Charles Rogers, Sarah-Violet Bliss, and Michael Showalter, Search Party premiered on TBS in 2016. Back when we first meet her in season one, Dory (Alia Shawkat) lacks any sense of direction or purpose in her life. She's an aimless millennial whose friend group of twenty-something NYC denizens all exist in a purposeless hazes of disingenuous narcissism. Multiple seasons later, Dory's developed a well-defined sense of identity. But whether that's for better or worse is a matter of perspective. As in, it seems basically fine from Dory's perspective, and terrifying for everyone else.

Speaking of disingenuousness, we should make a confession: There's no such thing as a bad episode of Search Party. The worst Search Party episode, according to IMDb, is still pretty highly rated and well-regarded by fans and critics alike. So to say we're talking about the "worst" episodes of Search Party here is technically true, but a little misleading. Maybe saying they're "lesser-liked" would be closer to accurate? 

Regardless, here are the seven best and seven worst Search Party half-hours so far, according to IMDb users. We should stress that massive, devastating spoilers lie ahead.

Worst #7: "Suspicion"

Search Party has been described as one of the darkest comedies on television, but that's probably not quite true until the second season. Season one has plenty of snark in its humor and outlook, granted. But since it's essentially about a group of adorable upper-class pals on a wacky adventure in the big city, it's not completely removed from the realm of comparatively toothless network shows like Friends or New Girl. As the series goes on, however, things change. Let's just say there isn't a Friends episode with a title anything like "The One Where Ross and Rachel Do A Homicide And Cover It Up."

In "Suspicion," we see the search partiers adjusting to their new normal as secret murderers. Dory freaks out pretty hard and makes a poorly-conceived attempt to cover some of her tracks. Drew (John Reynolds) hides evidence and begins planning his escape to Japan. In a hilarious coincidence, Portia (Meredith Hagner) accidentally auditions for a play about the Manson Family. "Suspicion" only barely qualifies as "worst," alongside similarly-scored episodes like "Denial," "Hysteria," and "The Riddle Within The Trash." But hey: We drew a line, and we're sticking to it.

Best #7: "A Dangerous Union"

This is a wedding episode directed by Carrie Brownstein that also includes a homicidal stalker. On paper, it looks like a can't-miss! And in execution ... it totally fulfills its promise.

Season three is predicated on the question of whether or not Dory will finally face any consequences. But it's actually Elliott whose proverbial chickens come home to roost: In "A Dangerous Union," Mark finally leaves Elliott. While Elliott's been caught lying before, this feels like the first time his dishonestly costs him something of substance. Portia, Dory, and Drew all know Elliott's been feeding them a complete load of bunk about his past and accomplishments, but they don't care, because lying doesn't bother them. Elliott losing perhaps the only remotely honest person in his life is tragic, although the episode is wise to avoiding lingering on the failed engagement. 

Instead, the big emotional payoff comes when the crew hears Portia screaming for help from the church's attic and immediately swings into action to rescue her. Dory and the gang might be deceitful, image-obsessed hipster ghouls, but they're still not going to let their pal get eaten by rats — even if she has testified against them very recently.   

Worst #6: "The Captive Dinner Guest"

Season one presents us with a whole bunch of red herrings, which is ultimately part of its genius. In Search Party, basically no one is who they tell you they are, much in the way the show itself is not quite what it tells you it is. The downside of that approach is it requires a handful of story threads and characters that, by design, go absolutely nowhere. The ostensibly missing Chantal Witherbottom's (Clare McNulty) off-putting boyfriend Gavin (Griffin Newman) is a glaring example, which might account for "The Captive Dinner Guest's" so-so standings. He essentially arrives, makes everyone uncomfortable, gets his phone hacked, attempts a sloppy, misguided pass at Portia, throws up, establishes that he won't be of any use to Dory's mission, and vanishes from the show. 

The lack of any meaningful connection to the grander design of Search Party is completely deliberate, and is itself meaningful by the end of the season. But the disconnect is what it is, and it's why this episode doesn't get higher IMDb marks.

Best #6: "The House of Uncanny Truths"

Every Office Space fan's least favorite Search Party episode is pretty highly ranked. Watching "The House of Uncanny Truths" within the context of the rest of the series gives the episode new meaning. If Dory and Drew had simply called the police, told the truth, and pled self-defense, wouldn't that have been sufficient to keep them out of trouble? 

In Drew's case, absolutely. DNA and fingerprints the once belonged to Keith Powell (Ron Livingston) should prove he was strangling Dory when Drew struck him with the interior design award. In Dory's case, probably. Even if she lashed out at Keith with the taser, she was being aggressively approached by a larger, unstable, obviously violent man. So who could blame her? In case you're wondering, yes, we are saying Dory and Drew are actually innocent, and season three ends precisely how good law demands it should. 

Worst #5: "The Night of One Hundred Candles"

This vigil-based episode probably suffers from the same issues as "The Captive Dinner Guest," an episode of similarly low (well, for Search Party) IMDb rating. Nobody's favorite Search Party character is any of the Witherbottoms, unless their name is Chantal. And the fact that Chantal's disappearance ceases to be a crux of the series early in season two probably hasn't helped the legacy of season one. Basically, a really great show replaced a really good show, which makes the really good show look mediocre by comparison.  

In "The Night of One Hundred Candles," Dory reveals to Chantal's mother that she saw Chantal alive. Chantal's mother neither believes her, nor expresses any sense of humor about her daughter's circumstances. Also, a conversation between Elliott and a pair of vigil/party guests provides the first indication that he is not as knowledgeable about conditions in poor African countries as his ostensible charity work indicates. 

Best #5: "Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig"

It's a little surprising to see one of Search Party's top-rated episodes plunked in the middle of season four. "Home Again ... " sends Drew, Elliott, and Portia on the hunt for Dory, who's locked in a basement all the way in Babyfoot, Massachusetts by this point. That's not really an emphatic starting point, and this episode certainly doesn't include a devastating resolution or reveal. But it still has quite a bit going for it. 

Portia sets to work starring as Dory in a film adaptation of the hunt for Chantal — basically, the events of season one — and does far-and-away her best acting. But she garners complete apathy and contempt from her unimpressed director (Tami Sagher). Paula Jo joins Dory in Chip the Twink's basement, providing Alia Shawkat and Ann Dowd with the opportunity to act in the same room, creating a space of heavily concentrated talent. But if we absolutely have to pick out a single reason why "Home Again ... " has been getting reviewed more highly than the average Search Party episode, it's got to be Dory's "I'm a psycho" monologue. In the annals of Epic Moments In TV Anti-Hero History, it belongs a notch or two below Walter White's "I'm the one who knocks" tirade. 

Worst #4: "Paralysis"

"Suspicion" picks up where "Paralysis" leaves off, so thematically, they're very similar episodes. The major difference is that "Suspicion" lacks an opening scene that makes fun of the photo blog Humans of New York.

Some might argue that way, way too many television shows gush over twenty-somethings trying to make it in En Why Cee. If you're the sort of person who's inclined to agree, maybe you can appreciate Search Party taking a swipe at the Big Apple's penchant for self-mythologizing absurdity. "I'm using my day to take pictures of people who look truly happy," an overly-social photographer tells Dory after snapping her picture without permission. Dory's teetering on the brink of madness and isn't remotely happy, but that's beside the point. Asking for a second picture, the photog asks Dory to pose: "Just think...'New York!'" Dory, in a rare moment of sensibility, declines.

Upon hearing of an overseas job opening within his company, Drew asks his co-workers, "Does China have an extradition treaty?" He then begins his brief, embarrassing affair with Chantal. Meanwhile, Elliott's hair starts to fall out, which should teach us all a lesson about being a pathological, compulsive liar. It can cause quite a bit of internal tension, as well as epidermal irregularities.

Best #4: "Irrefutable Evidence"

The penultimate episode of season three is a bit of an oddball, relative to the series as a whole. But the elements that break it apart from the lot are also probably to credit for its high rating. 

Cassidy delivers a barrage of Elle Woods-esque court room histrionics that make us wonder why Shalita Grant isn't more famous. Meanwhile, Chantal becomes obliviously complicit in a money-laundering scheme perpetrated by a crooked businessman played by Wallace Shawn, triumphantly shouting, "I'm finally a princess!" An old secret confession tape either says "We murdered Keith!," or, "We pancaked Keith!" The jury can't decide. 

But the important part of "Irrefutable Evidence" boils down to an exchange that takes place as Elliott hitchhikes back to Huggett, West Virginia. "Why the hell is a city boy like you looking to get to Huggett?" asks a passing driver. "I am indeed a Huggett boy, ma'am," responds Elliott (or should we say Eldad?), with a hitherto unimaginable Southern drawl. 

Riiiight before Elliott's mother can reveal the dark secret that explains why he can't stop BSing, he gets a call for his big break in political showbiz: Co-hosting a show on the Search Party universe's version of Fox News.

Worst #3: "The Mystery of the Golden Charm"

At the beginning of this episode, everyone is either stalking or getting stalked. Before the end, Drew endures horrific emotional abuse from his boss. It's a little jarring seeing Michael Showalter, the face of the lovable Coop from Wet Hot American Summer, as a merciless nightmare of a middle management supervisor. 

Meanwhile, Dory kicks off her friendship with private investigator Keith Powell. We're absolutely certain nothing awful will come from that particular state of affairs. If we must offer a guess as to why this episode has a middling score, we suppose Chantal's old psychotic roommate Penelope (Bridey Elliott) creeps out a fraction of the viewing public who incorrectly assume all sex workers are roughly like the dancers from the Bada Bing! club on The Sopranos. It is not so. Sometimes, sex work gets super weird — and this is the sort of show that embraces all things of that description.

Best #3: "The Shadows"

Search Party's future has never exactly been certain. It seems like Charles Rogers and Sarah-Violet Bliss don't know the show's future either — or at least they didn't while they put together "The Shadows." Most of this episode makes it look like Dory perishes in the fire Lylah (Susan Sarandon) pays a bunch of teenagers to set in the previous episode, to the extent that we see Drew, Portia, and Elliott delivering heartfelt(ish) eulogies at her funeral. 

Normally, we'd say Search Party isn't the type of show where characters come back from the dead — at least, not outside the context of a flashback. So if this turns out to be Search Party's last hurrah, then at least the show exits with one of its best-reviewed episodes ever. Whether or not Dory Sief gets to go out on a high note ... well, that's an entirely different but equally ambiguous matter. 

Worst #2: "The Woman Who Knew Too Much"

We have nothing but our own guesswork to explain why some Search Party episodes get a comparatively bad rap on IMDb. With the series' second episode, we assume (based on a totally random hunch) that many users agree that Rosie Perez should've had a meatier part. The legendary character actor deserves a highly memorable one-off like Parker Posey's new age cult member Brick, or a recurring role like Louie Anderson's Bob Lunch, who gets to yell dialogue like, "Your Honor, my client is not on trial for having sex with food!" As Lorraine De Coss, Perez feels a little wasted as one of the first season's dead ends. Although, since we're less inclined to doubt the sanity of a character played by a famous person, maybe a thespian with Perez's resume was necessary to sustain the ruse. 

The second episode certainly has its appeal, however. Consider how Dory finds the line, "The pleasure lies not in discovering the truth, but in searching for it," highlighted in Chantal's copy of Anna Karenina. The show has to do something to explain why it's called Search Party, and it takes possibly the least contrived route possible.

Best #2: "Inferno"

IMDb ratings aren't set in stone: Some of the best-reviewed Search Party episodes might very well take an eventual dive. But that's not so for "Inferno." Frankly, we'd be surprised if this one ever drops out of the top three.

Dory spends a lot of season four struggling to confront the reality of what she's done and the person she's become. Sometimes, she takes shelter in the bubble of delusion provided by Chip, her homicidal stalker and kidnapper. But the stakes aren't that high for the rest of the searchers: Elliott continues to fail upwards, Portia's acting career flounders, and Drew escapes into nostalgia with a new job and a rebound romance at an ersatz Disneyland, only to find himself running away from the romance (and probably the job, too). 

Between their answers to Dory's inquiry about what gets them out of bed in the morning and their sobbing roadside group-meltdown at the episode's end, Drew, Portia, and Elliott finally get serious. So serious, in fact, that they feel 100 percent like characters on the same show as Dory's life-or-death kidnapping and brainwashing-oriented drama.

Worst: "The Mysterious Disappearance Of The Girl No One Knew"

According to IMDb, every episode following the series premiere of Search Party is a superior chunk of television. That should tell us something about the overall quality of the project: After its initial idea, it only gets better.  

But really, we tend to question the motives behind rating this premiere lower than later episodes. Shawkat gets extra unhinged when Dory chews out Drew after her interview for a teaching job goes south. Drew comes off as a little patronizing, Dory comes off as emotionally abusive — it's an uncomfortable scene all around. It makes us wonder if some members of the audience who gave this episode low ratings think TV that makes them feel bad feelings is bad, rather than a successful drama. By the end of the episode, April (Phoebe Tyers) also screams at Drew after he offers to help her out of a possible domestic violence situation. 

Maybe the bad reviews are just coming from huge John Reynolds fans who don't understand objective criticism? 

Best: "The Infinite Loop"

"The Infinite Loop" is the highest-rated Search Party episode on IMDb. Will it sustain that average over time? Who knows. But for the moment, it appears Susan Sarandon as Chip's nefarious Aunt Lylah is far-and-away the most popular guest star in Search Party's entire run. Without a doubt, the roundabout chase scene stands as one of season four's funniest moments. Before that, the manner in which these six characters in three groups all seem to barely avoid running into each other in the tiny, touristy destination of Babyfoot, Massachusetts, surely elicits a chuckle or 12. 

However, Aunt Lylah never appears in the same shot as any other main character, except for Chip. This makes it appear as though Sarandon's scenes were shot separately from the rest of the cast, aside from Cole Escola. On the other hand, as Search Party sets out to send up the plight of the millennial generation, Lylah's aura of apartness actually strengthens the show's main theme. Dory and the rest of the searchers can struggle, succeed, become murders or millionaires, progress, regress, or anything at all. But at the end of the day, a wealthy baby boomer can always deus ex machina themselves into the situation and arrange a new outcome in an instant. Actually, that's also pretty much what happens with Chantal and William Badpastor (Wallace Shawn) in season three, but that's a recap for another day.