Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, John Cho and more talk to ET about everything you need to know about the Apple TV+ murder mystery.
After a fascinatingly addictive first season, The Afterparty is back with another, equally captivating season 2 that comes complete with a new star-studded cast of characters, even more cryptic clues to spot and genres to explore as audiences try to solve a whole new murder.
With season 2 premiering with two episodes on July 12 before mystery unfolds with the remaining eight episodes on Apple TV+, executive producers Anthony King, Chris Miller and Phil Lord as well as returning stars Sam Richardson, Tiffany Haddish and Zoë Chao, and other members of the new ensemble, break down what's to come in a deeper, even more complex installment of the anthology series.
"Season 2 is definitely an extension of season 1," Chao tells ET, teasing that "there's a lot at stake" as the series goes "further into the genres." Not only that, "we now have two families and with that comes rich histories. And we get to really go into origin stories that span decades," she adds.
Central Murder in Season 2
Season 2 picks up a year after the events of season 1, which saw Detective Danner (Haddish) solving the murder of performer Xavier (Dave Franco) and clearing the names of his former high school classmates, Aniq (Richardson) and Zoë (Chao).
Now, the two are officially dating, with Aniq preparing to meet Zoë's family for the first time during the wedding between her sister, Grace (Poppy Liu), and her fiancé, Edgar (Zach Woods).
Among the many guests -- and list of suspects -- are Edgar's family, including mother Isabel (Elizabeth Perkins) and sister Hannah (Anna Konkle), as well as former business partner Sebastian (Jack Whitehall) and the groom's adored pet lizard, Roxana (played by eight different lizards named Bob). On Grace's side, there are her parents, Feng (Ken Jeong) and Vivian (Vivian Wu), as well as her uncle, Ulysses (John Cho), and former suitor Travis (Paul Walter Hauser).
But the weekend celebration at Edgar's vineyard estate quickly becomes complicated when Grace awakes to find her new husband dead in their bed, leading to Aniq and Zoë -- along with the assistance of Danner -- attempting to figure out whodunnit before the local police arrive.
Characters and Their "Mind Movies"
In season 2, Aniq, Danner and Zoë are tasked with interviewing everyone at the wedding about their whereabouts during the murder as well as what their version of events were leading up to Edgar's death. And like season 1, each of the potential suspects share their take through what the executive producers dub "mind movies," which sees each perspective taking on a different genre of storytelling.
Here, that includes everything from a Jane Austen-inspired period piece to a sweeping romantic epic akin to Legends of the Fall as well as a found footage episode and an homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. There are even episodes dedicated to Wes Anderson, film noir, 1980s soaps and camp-filled horror.
Episode: 1, "Aniq 2: The Sequel"
Debut: July 12
"Rom-com is one of my favorite genres, period," Richardson says of his episode, which kicks off season 2 with the most straightforward version of events. "The first episode kinda sets the pace," he continues, before noting that while it's "still heightened, it's the closest to reality."
The episode's style also allows Richardson to take advantage of his physical comedy chops. "It's a fun thing to get to play," he says of those moments where "everything goes wrong and everything is heightened and you just can't stop making the wrong moves," which includes "having a giant box on my head, or spitting up some sort of drink on somebody's face."
Genre: Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice
Episode: 2, "Grace"
Debut: July 12
"I've fantasized about being in a Jane Austen anything, so it was very exciting. I think it was so appropriate for the character 'cause she is such a romantic. She does kind of live in this very heightened, like driven-by-love narrative. She does kind of live in her own head. I think she's very much whimsical, like a dreamer who probably zones out a lot," Liu says of how the genre fits Grace, before adding that Austen's world is a great framework to show the differences between the bride and groom's families. "Jane Austen has such stark and clear class distinctions… Like, there's this snobbery rooted in class."
Genre: Raymond Chandler-esque Film Noir
Episode: 3, "Travis"
Debut: July 19
"It's perfect for the character as it pertains to comedy, because he sees himself as being this sort of suave, hyper intelligent entity in this story. But, of course, he's kind of the off-brand detective. He fancies himself as Coca-Cola but he's really RC Cola," Hauser says of Travis, who has his own theories about everything.
For the actor, getting to channel this genre meant playing with different perceptions of reality and also "getting to do the monologue stuff where he is like giving the mind movie narration and then he is kind of living out those things... I thought it was super cool."
Genre: Wes Anderson
Episode: 4, "Hannah"
"I found it a little bit intimidating because I had that style and such a pedestal," Konkle says of the episode, which pulls heavily from The Royal Tenenbaums, explaining that "there's something sort of inherently, intentionally stilted with Wes Anderson and with that sort of genre. And so, there's an intentional awkwardness."
She adds, "I don't think Hannah's awkwardness is intentional. But she has that. And yet, there's also this propulsive, emotional gooey story that mixes in. So, I think that it sort of defines her really well, that genre."
Genre: Heists à la Ocean's 11
Episode: 5, "Sebastian"
"I'm a huge fan of those types of movies and being able to play in that world was really wonderful. As an actor, it was all very kind of slick with great choreographed camera moves and it all felt very cool. And, you know, befitting of Sebastian's kind of sense of himself," Whitehall says, explaining in his own career, "I'm used to playing characters that tend to be a little bit more kind of goofy or vulnerable, and so, it was nice to be able to play this kind of character who was a little bit more suave and bulletproof, you know, especially when he is living out his fantasy."
Genre: 1990s Erotic Thriller
Episode: 6, "Danner's Fire"
"I thought it was super exciting and I was like, 'Ooh, a chance to be sexy.' Like, I don't get a chance to do that often in my projects," Haddish says.
Genre: Epic Romances à la Legends of the Fall
Episode: 7, "Ulysses"
"It was such an external expression of how he saw himself, you know," Cho says, explaining that Ulysses -- who is dubbed the "funcle" (aka the fun uncle) of the family -- "sees himself as this swashbuckling adventurer. So, [his episode] was an internal expression of who he was."
Genre: Found Footage
Episode: 8, "Feng"
"I think there's a certain desperation and a certain vulnerability to Feng that really is vibrant in the found footage genre that my character was in. So, I find it was such the right choice," Jeong says.
Genre: 1950s Suspense à la Vertigo
Episode: 9, "Isabel"
"I was thrilled because I sort of grew up watching old Alfred Hitchcock movies late at night on my black-and-white television set in Vermont somewhere. So, that felt very close to my heart," Perkins says. "And when I put Isabel in my mind, in that context, she became very clear to me, you know, 'cause Hitchcock has a way of sort of taking these beautiful damsels in distress [who] were always sort of flawless and clutching a handkerchief and being in a situation where they couldn't figure out the details."
Genre: Camp Horror
Episode: 10, "Zoë and Vivian"
"Zoë is living a nightmare. You know, her entire family has become suspects and so, it makes sense that her genre is a horror story," Chao says.
Genre: 1980s Soap Opera
Episode: 10, "Zoë and Vivian"
"Growing up in the '80s, I always felt the '80s was the most fun, most balanced, and, you know, it's good. In the '80s, the music was also good. So, I had fun with it," Wu says. "I got, you know, carried [away]. I loved it. I really loved it. It was dramatic. So, for me and for my character, it was very matching."
The Puzzles and Clues to Solve
"Some of the fun of a murder mystery is -- and especially this kind of murder mystery, which is a fair play murder mystery -- we're giving you all of the clues if you watch closely enough," King says.
After Reddit quickly began solving all the clues in season 1 -- "Never underestimate the internet," Miller says -- the team upped their game with even more things to unpack and Easter eggs to find in season 2. "In addition to the murder mystery, which has all the clues, there's also these hidden puzzles and things in the set design that give you extra hints, if you're really paying attention," Miller shares.
"So, we added twice as many hidden messages and puzzles for the super nerds," he continues, teasing, "Some of them are even more difficult than the first season."
Working with experts -- David Kwong, who writes New York Times crossword puzzles, and Dave Shukan, a puzzle maker -- Miller and the team came up with two types of season-long puzzles to solve. The first is an "elimination puzzle," which helps determine the suspect or method of murder, while the second is a "flower puzzle," which leads to another puzzle once the correct flower is entered into a website on the show.
As for the casual observer, Miller says they can still enjoy solving the main mystery at hand, but he warns that season 2 "has more twists and turns and red herrings … and it'll keep you guessing a little bit longer. So, I think it's a little bit harder to solve."
The first two episodes of The Afterparty season 2 fired debuted on July 12, with the eight remaining episodes premiering every Wednesday through Sept. 6 only on Apple TV+.
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