By: Jaclyn Kotora, Editorial Staff (‘23)
Warning, spoilers ahead!
On August 21st, Steve Martin and John Hoffman’s series, Only Murders In The Building, aired a new episode every Tuesday on Hulu, with the 10th and final episode of the season being released on October 19th. The show follows true crime enthusiasts Mabel (Selena Gomez), Oliver (Martin Short), and Charles (Steve Martin) as they investigate and document the murder of resident Tim Kono (Julian Cihi) in their podcast, “Only Murders in the Building,” while also unraveling their struggles and pasts.
The show has gained a broad audience, capturing viewers of varied ages as the show features famous actors across multiple generations. Along with Martin, Short, and Gomez, the show also features Tina Fey, Sting, Nathan Lane, Jimmy Fallon, Jane Lynch, and other popular celebrities. Right away, “Only Murders” skips the slow introductions that come in some premiere episodes – instead, it opens to a scene with Martin and Charles running to get Mabel, only to find her hovering over a dead body, to which she responds, “It’s not what it looks like!” The episode then jumps to two months prior, chronologically showing the viewers what occurred leading up to the event throughout the ten episodes. The finale ends with the same opening scene of Mabel and the dead body.
Throughout the season, the show incorporates what true crime enthusiasts and audiences love – surprise. The show doesn’t shy away from plot twists, keeping viewers on their toes, and leaves the audience ready for more. Most of the season built up to the reveal that Teddy and Theo Dimas killed Tim Kono, only for it to be revealed in the last episode that Jan (Amy Ryan), Charles’ girlfriend, is the actual killer. While the plot twist was a pleasant surprise, part of it seemed out of place. Throughout the season, the show had a considerable build-up to the accusation of Dimas as the killer. While the father and son still played a significant part in Tim’s and other characters’ downfalls, Jan killed Tim because he broke up with her. The relationship wasn’t even brought up often during the show, only being revealed in the last episode. The whole thing seemed a bit out of place and rushed, as her motives for killing Tim were not nearly as complex as the story posed about the Dimas family. While I thought that the plot twist was a clever move by the creators, I wish Jan’s story and motives were better thought out and portrayed.
Nevertheless, the show maintained a lighter, spunky, and eccentric atmosphere while capturing the essence of 21st century NYC and the chemistry between the three main characters. While not as outright funny as one might expect, the show was comedic enough to not drive viewers away with the darker or serious themes but suspenseful and empathetic enough to pull the audience in. Both the actors and their corresponding roles complement each other well, as they play off each other’s strengths. While all actors contribute comedic relief throughout the series, Martin Short seems to carry the show with his witty humor and self-absorbed attitude. I also was pleasantly surprised by Selena Gomez’s performance; previously, I had only seen her act in her famous Disney channel roles, and this type of character she portrayed was far from that. Not only does Mabel’s character help carry the show, being the root of the drama and suspense (she is the only one who personally knew Tim Kono), Gomez’s sophisticated acting and contribution to Martin’s and Short’s acting makes her an essential part of the series.
While sentimental aspects of the show detract from its comedic quality, it does offer insight into generational norms. Charles is an older, lonely, out-of-work actor who doesn’t know how to use technology. Oliver is an older, eccentric, failed Broadway director. And Mabel is a modern, creative, and mysterious young woman. Despite these generational gaps, the three form a tight friendship and solve a lot of their personal problems from learning from each other. Similarly, the show combines popular actors from multiple generations to blur the generational divide and create a show all ages can enjoy.
Only Murders In The Building is a genuinely fun watch, each episode leaving no dull moments and plenty of laughs. While nothing exceptionally jaw-dropping about the mystery, comedy, or cinematography, it’s a light yet meaningful take on a mystery, offering both suspense and a smile.