The fifth and final season of Search Party is a vibe… and that vibe is wonderful, unhinged chaos. From the incisive storytelling to the who’s who of guest stars to the delicious batch of bizarre character names (Tunnel Quinn! Dr. Amanda Baby! Liquorice Montague!), both the season and the show in general was an A-to-Z delight. Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter’s trenchant mystery comedy was always one of the most ambitious series on television, but the final installment was a big swing even by the show’s lofty standards. And despite a razor-thin margin of error, Search Party exited with the trademark swagger and renegade bravado that defined the critically-acclaimed fan favorite throughout its five seasons on TBS and HBO Max.
Search Party delivered a surplus of memorable laugh-out-loud moments during its run, but the one constant that stood out was Meredith Hagner’s portrayal of Portia Davenport. The entire cast was exceptional — Alia Shawkat never earning an Emmy nomination is… what’s the word? Ah yes: rude — but Hagner’s inexhaustible comedy prowess deserves a standing ovation. The actress is a multifaceted performer, but the most prolific move in her arsenal is her ethereal mastery of the old television chestnut known as the reaction shot.
I mean… come on! It’s like a beautiful, expressive explosion of emoticons. As someone who’s spent countless hours watching Schitt’s Creek to capture the funniest jokes or “best Davids,” I feel confident saying that Meredith Hagner delivered the funniest reaction shots since first ballot facial expressions Hall of Famer Alexis Rose. A bold yet accurate statement.
Meredith Hagner is a maestro of emoting. The second episode of the final season featured a brunch reunion between Dory, Drew, Elliott, and Portia. On its own, it’s a wonderful example of what makes Search Party work. But if you rewatch the scene and focus on Portia’s overt skepticism over Dory’s newfound enlightenment, you’ll notice how Hagner’s performance elevates the hilarity while simultaneously heightening the tension.
Eatin’ pasta and shootin’ daggers: The Portia Davenport story.
Meredith Hagner’s versatility extends well beyond Search Party. Here she is politely telling the man who put the treasure in the film National Treasure, slick Nicky Cage, to “pipe down while she’s on the phone with AT&T.”
We also have a candid photo of the actress celebrating the fact that both Rizzoli and Isles graced the cover of the July 2011 edition of TV Guide.
And finally, if Hollywood’s looking to cast a lead actress for that buzzy new adult Home Alone reboot that’s been makin’ the rounds in Tinseltown, we have two words: Meredith Hagner.
Goodbye, Search Party. You’ll be missed, old friend.
Stream Search Party on HBO Max