It is almost impossible to take stock Research group fifth and final season, which lands on HBO Max this week, without revisiting its entire, wild, genre-changing network jump race. The show was launched as a question mark on millennial anxieties, set in the hipster culture nebula of the time (Brooklyn) and filled with devious, biting comments about empowerment and, simultaneously, the very real fear. inherited from a generation raised in the post 2000 Internet boom. They brunched, they stalked their enemies on social media platforms and they found a mistaken sense of purpose in stalking a familiar face that found its way on the poster of a missing person. They fed each other on narcissism and delusions of greatness, but they also filled gaps in each other’s lives – those left behind by absent and bossy parents, needy boyfriends, and unsatisfying career paths.
All of this still rings true for the show’s final hurray – a tour of trippy magical mysteries from cults, tech gods, influencer culture, and an apocalyptic event or two. For any other show, this amalgamation of competing story threads would likely prove too much to deal with. Corn Research group The final magic trick is to take a term we normally reserve for shows that completely lose plot in their final season and turn it into some kind of weirdly ambitious goal post for the next generation of black comedy à la. television.
In other words, Research group the final race “jump the shark” on purpose and honestly we couldn’t think of a better way to finish.
We won’t spoil this completely unexpected curtain closure, but we will provide a glimpse of the winding road to enlightenment the group travels to get there. Dory (Alia Shawkat) sort of survived the kidnapping of her twink stalker and the raging hell we saw her trapped in at the end of season four. She was clinically dead for 37 seconds – a medical phenomenon she eventually built a cult around – and subsequently placed in a mental asylum by Drew (John Paul Reynolds), Elliott (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner), when she came to talking about doomsday visions and her need to help others experience her spiritual awakening.
While in custody, the gang tries to find some semblance of normalcy, though even such a familiar concept as “settling in” conflicts with this trio’s megalomania. Portia and Drew start dating because they think no one else will understand what they went through as Elliott reunites with her boyfriend Mark to adopt a genetically modified baby because “these are topics of conversation “. When Dory eventually escapes from the mental hospital to find them, there is an apprehension of judgment but also a feeling that they are all secretly relieved to be brought back into their friend’s toxic orbit. Their lives were incredibly boring without her.
So it makes sense that a heartfelt apology and lunch at a fancy pop-up is all it takes to convince the group to join Dory on their quest to spread enlightenment, one that leads them to the tycoon’s door. smarmy Tunnel Quinn technology (Jeff Goldblum continuing the show’s tradition of booking larger-than-life guest stars who fit right into this world). Quinn is a billionaire businessman who surrounds himself with smarter inventors and scientists to sell products that promise to revolutionize but always seem to disappoint. In Dory, he sees another scam that can bolster his prophetic image as a tech messiah and earn him money. (We don’t have to spell out which Goldblum parody here, do we?)
It’s a ploy for Quinn, an Elliott is too happy to join and Drew is too weak to resist, but Dory and, oddly, Portia believe it. Or, at least, they believe in the image he can help them create. Shawkat is mesmerizing as Dory gently descends a path that many crime documentary subjects seem to lean towards. She’s quietly powerful, seriously convincing her friends and us that she, in fact, just wants to help people. His egocentric impulses are disguised by flowing white sheets and soothing mantras about “unconditional love” and the individual ability to change the world. She persuades her friends, detractors, and the group of influencers she hires to help get her message across to the masses that death is a logical stepping stone to enlightenment. And don’t we all want enlightenment? Or, at the very least, the constant euphoria it seems to give her?
What follows, as Dory assembles her tracksuit followers and begins to promise a scientifically engineered jelly candy that can both kill you and save your life, is completely unexpected and yet, too, totally predictable. When Dory began this journey, her intentions to find a missing woman named Chantal were good, if not extremely selfish, and they ultimately caused her to ruin not only her life, but the lives of everyone around her. Season five follows the same basic premise – Dory wants to do good and be recognized for it, Dory destroys everything and everyone she loves in the process – but speeds up the drama, fantasy, horror and comedy to unprecedented heights. He delves into the absurd and the impossible in a way that gives everyone, especially Early and Hagner, the chance to shine. These two have been the not-so-secret MVPs of the entire series and here they can stretch their legs with the kind of over-the-top weirdness that comedy people normally only dream of playing on TV. And Reynolds reliably plays everything – from Drew’s romantic epiphanies to his detective trips in Maine – in a heterosexual way that can be especially difficult to master in a show so bizarre, so magnified.
There are some pretty glaring tonal issues, especially since the series makes a big change in its final episodes, and while Clare McNulty’s Chantal Witherbottom is still funny, her subplot with Kathy Griffin (another lucky one) does. feels disjointed and disconnected from the main story in a way that is never completely rectified.
Yet for a series that billed itself as a show about millennials who brunch, Research group has found a way to tap into the singular selfishness, paranoia, and frustrating disillusion of an entire generation in a unique and refreshing way. There is no show like that on TV. We doubt there will be any more.