TBS’s modern, millennial-centric mystery series Search Party is full of uniquely memorable characters. One in particular really stands out for being unexpectedly nuanced. Portia Davenport, played wonderfully by Meredith Hager, seems horrible on the surface but it doesn’t take long to see that she is more than a narcissistic Brooklynite. She’s adorable, well-dressed (yes, she rocked a crop top to a vigil for a missing woman), and often says crazy things, but a trope blonde she is not! Together with Elliot (John Early), she rounds off the main character’s, Dory (Alia Shawkat), group of friends.
Portia is a struggling actress who plays, as she describes, “a frisky rookie cop named Courtney Garcia” on a crime television show. A recurring joke is that Portia, who is the whitest of white characters, plays a Latina. Unfortunately for our budding actress, she gets killed off the crime show. We get to see how Portia handles her last day on set with grace. She may be a rich kid with a fancy apartment that’s likely paid for by her family, but she is passionate about her career. She is working hard toward being a respected professional, unlike her best pal Elliot.
Throughout the series, we see Portia mature as she becomes less self-involved. In an audience favorite scene, assuming she will be thrilled to hear he got a book deal, Elliot races to Portia’s place to tell her the news. However, she is taken aback and expresses how hurt she still is for him lying to her about having had cancer. She goes on to tell him the story of how her dad died of cancer and how he was her biggest fan. Elliot feels terrible about this, but then Portia says, “Now, what if I told you that my dad is totally fine?” It’s a very well-acted scene that sneaks up on you and leaves you realizing a few things, the first being just how much you have grown invested in her character because it’s impossible not to feel sad for her in that moment. Another is that she actually cares about moral integrity and honesty. And lastly, Portia can act, all of which comes totally out of left field.
Another touching moment, which is acted beautifully by Meredith Hager, is when Portia opens up at a hippy cult dinner about her insecurities. Portia says she can be both girly and smart, but people don’t see the smart side of her. Portia is laughable and absurd, yes, but she’s got depth and relatable insecurities that make you feel like you wish you knew a Portia in real life, or as she would probably say, “IRL.”
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Characters We Love: Portia From Search Party. Photos courtesy of TBS