How ‘The Resort’ Uses An Old Motorola Razr To Craft Its Perfectly Bonkers Mystery
'The Resort' is here to give you an existential crisis about 2007.
If you need to fill Search Party, The Good Place, or Mr Robot shaped hole in your life; or you just have a nostalgic yearning to see 2007 vacation culture portrayed on screen; The Resort is for you.
Created by Palm Springs writer Andy Siara, and produced by Mr Robot creator Sam Esmail — The Resort is a time-bending mystery dramedy. The show follows a married couple, Noah and Emma as they vacation in the Yucatán, Mexico in an attempt to ignore their festering marital issues.
But when Emma falls off a quadbike into a clearing, she and Noah find an old Motorola Razr belonging to a long lost missing tourist. As the series weaves between Emma and Noah’s amateur detective work in 2022, and what really happened at the now abandoned Oceana Vista resort in 2007, a 15-year-old mystery finally begins to unravel.
The series stars The Good Place and Midsommar‘s William Jackson Harper alongside Palm Springs and How I Met Your Mother‘s Cristin Milioti. The duo have got a lot of unspoken angst simmering just under the surface of their married sitcom couple routine. But as the pair delve deeper into the addictive mystery of the Oceana Vista — and their relationship — the sit-comedic chops Harper and Milioti are beloved for give way to erratic dramedy perfection.
What truly makes the show, however, is the use of the muddy Motorola Razr to connect the events of the past to the mystery of the present. As we creep ever forward into the 2020s, ’90s nostalgia is slowly giving way to ’00s nostalgia and, with it, comes the inevitable portrayal of the ’00s as a distant yet desirable past.
It’s already begun in the fast fashion world. Low-rise jeans, tiny bags, cargo pants and many other 00s fashion staples have been worming their way back into fashion trends for a while now, for better and worse.
But this isn’t TikTok stars donning glammed-up versions of Y2K fashions; its protagonist Noah and Emma squinting at the tiny screen of the beaten-up silver Razr to decipher old texts. Meanwhile, we the audience are treated to split-screen flashbacks where the same phone is clipped to the waistline of a teen girl’s juicy velvet tracksuit pants.
Noah and Emma pore over the missing person’s tiny blurred selfies and grainy pixelated holiday pics, but the viewer is treated to cinematic flashbacks of the photo’s real context. It’s a disconcerting visceral reminder of how technology distances us from the past, even as it simultaneously connects us.
As the chyron at the beginning of The Resort‘s first episode (from Illán Iberra’s book El Espejo) so aptly reads: “the pursuit to recapture your past is a waste of time. The past lives in the past and is therefore non-existent in the present. Time travel has not been invented.”
Even the pockets of time we think we’re so accurately capturing with our phones will not be enough for those looking back. With its ever-expanding mystery, The Resort reminds us that the same technology that once made us feel so future-facing will barely show us a decent picture of the past.
Apart from offering up a bounty of existential dread, it’s also a fantastic way to frame a mystery show. As the phone itself famously split and flipped, so too are the past and present. Using a Motorola Razr flip phone as the jumping-off point for a possible missing person murder mystery? A mystery that also somehow involves a fashion designer crime family, a hurricane, a rocky marriage, and an abandoned resort? Three episodes in and I’m already obsessed.
The Resort is streaming on Stan.