“Search Party” Creators Look Back on the Show’s Campiest Moments

"I don’t think I’ve laughed harder on set," says co-creator Sarah-Violet Bliss.

The final season of Search Party, one of the queerest and campiest shows in recent memory, premieres this Friday, January 7 on HBO Max.

The dark comedy kicked off in 2016 as a murder mystery involving self-obsessed millennials. Over the years, Search Party has morphed into a satire of everything from over-the-top courtroom dramas to right-wing media and celebrity culture. One episode even features a Misery-inspired storyline starring Cole Escola as Chip, an obsessed fan who kidnaps the show’s main character, Dory (played by Alia Shawkat), and sometimes dons drag as his aunt (Susan Sarandon). Season 5 is more star-studded than ever, with Jeff Goldblum, Kathy Griffin, and the Pope of Trash himself, John Waters, joining the Search Party family.

Ahead of Search Party’s final season, Logo spoke with co-creators Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers about some of the series’s campiest, queerest, and most unforgettable moments.

John Sciulli/Getty Images for Vulture Festival
  1. Parker Posey’s cool cult

    Charles: It literally came about because… This is boring, a boring story, but because we really just wanted her so desperately to be anything in Season 1. And Tony Hernandez who runs Jax Media, the company that makes Search Party, was having lunch with her that same day. And we were texting, saying, “Tell her, tell her, tell her to be in the show.” And she said yes. So that was probably one of the most exciting things that… It still feels like a dream that she was ever in Search Party. Because it was so early in the show, too. It’s hard to wrap my head around to this day. She’s everything you want her to be too.

  2. Cole Escola’s Susan Sarandon drag

    Jon Pack

    Sarah-Violet: Yeah, I think Season 4 is the campiest of our seasons. We both have a deep appreciation of camp and I think so does Cole. A big influence for that season was Misery, which is a campy movie as well, which I don’t know if necessarily anyone would describe it that way. Not everyone would, but I do.

    Charles: It was turned into a play with Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Willis. It’s camp. It’s camp.

  3. The madcap roundabout

    Charles: I feel like the campiest/queerest moment of the show might be when Lyla (Susan Sarandon) crashes into the car that Drew’s (John Reynolds) driving with Portia (Meredith Hagner) dressed as Dory, Dory dressed as Stephanie, Chip dressed as Lyla. And everyone’s in a costume and chasing after each other very confused. It feels like there’s some kind of Noises Off energy to it. A mistaken identity in nine ways.

  4. Elliot and Marc’s big gay wedding

    Jon Pack

    Charles: [Filming] it was very fun. It was insane. It felt like a huge production for the show. And it was really weird to have to actually shoot a wedding procession. And I don’t know why but still the funniest joke to me is that we weren’t really sure what Marc’s (Jeffery Self) friend’s social life would be. So we were like, “I guess he’s a model and they’re just all models.” And I still think it’s just very funny that they had to walk arm and arm with random models that you never see again in the series.

    And also, Elliot getting wheeled in on a chariot is so gaudy. Trump was very the inspiration for it. Like gilded, ’80s, cherub-y extravagance.

  5. Planned by Drew Droege and Sam Pancake

    Charles: I think Sam Pancake and Drew Droege as the wedding planners is one of my favorite queer moments, they’re geniuses.

    Sarah-Violet: I don’t think I’ve laughed harder on set. They also improv stuff together, so the line where Sam Pancake says, “Let’s just be men.” And Drew says, “Yes, let’s please be men.” I was like, “I’m going to ruin the take [from laughing]. I’m going to ruin the take.” Because it was so funny to me. They were the best.

  6. The unscripted three-way kiss

    Sarah-Violet: That evolved on set because we were watching the scene and they were just being drunk and in their acting, they were just getting kind of close their heads were getting closer and closer and it was like getting sexier and sexier. And we were like, “Oh my God. They’re going to fuck.” And Charles was like, “They should kiss.” And we were like, “Ha, ha.” And then I was like, “Oh no, they should kiss.” The funny thing about it is that it’s a drunken kiss that leads nowhere. They just kiss and then move on from it. And then when we also approached them about doing the kiss, you could tell that they were all excited about it. Maybe they were even subconsciously making it happen. It was a really magical collaborative moment, I would say.

  7. Season 3’s courtoom camp

    Jon Pack

    Charles: All three of the lawyers [from Season 3], Louie Anderson, Michaela Watkins, and Shalita Grant. They all have a queer camp quality to them. Each one of them.

    Sarah-Violet: They were literally like putting on a play because we also had so many background actors. So after Shalita would do an incredible long take that they would all be, “Woo!” And that’s also reminding me of the “murder pancake” scene, which is also one of my favorite scenes in the whole show. And Louie being like, “My clients aren’t reading out the definition of pancaking. My clients aren’t being on trial for having sex with food!”

  8. John Waters makes Season 5 even filthier

    Jon Pack/ HBO Max

    Charles: He’s amazing. He’s exactly what you hope he is. He’s on his soapbox of amazing stories all day long. And he is very giving with anecdotes as you would hope he is. And when Sarah-Violet and I’s film, Fort Tilden, was at the Provincetown Film Festival, I tapped him on the shoulder and I asked him if he could come see it. But he couldn’t come because he had seen something else. He gave me a business card and I’d emailed that business card for seven years. I’d emailed him trying to get him to be in the show, trying to get him to do anything, to watch it. Just to know about it. And finally with the last season sent this email, “Just so you know, even if you aren’t in the show, you’ll always play a big role in my heart. But just know that last season saw Cole Escola dressed in drag as Susan Sarandon, as his Aunt Lyla. So if that doesn’t entice you, if you haven’t heard of this show, I hope that speaks to what the flavor of it is.” And he was extremely professional and really wanted to do a good job acting and he’s great in the season. And his character engineers the perfect child for affluent gay couples, and Marc and Elliot are in the market for that. But the child that he sells them is terrifying.

    He just told stories all day long and Jackie Hoffman was also filming that day and they’re friends. So there was this moment where there was a circle of people just talking. It was Jeffery and John, and John Waters and Jackie Hoffman and Clare McNulty, just sitting in a circle. And I couldn’t believe it. It seemed so surreal. And I was the worst version of myself I’ve ever been. I needed to make peace with the fact that the pinnacle of John Waters in my life is him being in the show. I don’t need to also then prove to him that I could be his friend. I had to just be grateful for what this was.

  9. Kathy Griffin: Conspiracy Queen

    Jon Pack/ HBO Max

    Charles: She’s had such a crazy journey in life and we’re really lucky because she’s such an iconic person. It almost seems impossible. It seems like she would be an impossible person to get. But her comeback, for lack of a better word, is coinciding with the show. And so it is really surreal to see her on Late Night talking about Search Party and how she’s back, and she’s an actor. It’s actually very special and surreal that our show is intersecting with her life’s journey and her career. And she was extremely kind, extremely smart, very sensitive, and a far more accessible Kathy Griffin than you would maybe imagine. And she and Clare McNulty really bonded while making the show. They are now close. And their scenes are really, really fun. She plays a psychotic conspiracy theorist who takes Chantal (Clare McNulty) under her wing and Chantal believes every insane thing out of her mouth and it’s, of course, of great consequence too.

Search Party Season 5 is available now on HBO Max.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."