Review: Only Murders in the Building (Season 1)
Navin R. Johnson, Jiminy Glick and Alex Russo, the trio we never knew we needed!!!
Hey all, it’s time for another review.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a show which tackles the ever-growing popularity of true crime podcasts. The recent Hulu series, Only Murders in the Building, created by Steve Martin and writer John Hoffman, which just completed its first season and ran for 10 episodes, from August 31, 2021 – October 19, 2021.
The show stars comedy legends and frequent co-stars, Steve Martin and Martin Short, and former Disney star, singer and actress, Selena Gomez.
The show is about three strangers who all live in the same building in New York City, called the Arconia. Charles Hayden-Savage (Martin), a former TV actor who starred on a hit detective series called Brozzos, Oliver Putnam (Short), a struggling Broadway director who is currently in debt and on the verge of being evicted, and Mable Mora (Gomez), a young woman living alone in her aunt's unfinished apartment, who is emotionally cut off from the world.
The first scene from the first episode is chaotic, with police storming the Arconia, and Charles & Oliver fleeing the building in a panic, only to find Mable kneeling over a dead body covered in blood. The three stare at each other, confused for a few seconds, until Mable says, “It’s not what you think!!!” (That beginning scene isn’t addressed again until the last few minutes of the last episode.)
Flashback to two months earlier, when the three of them meet for the first time on an elevator. Then later that night, they coincidentally bump into each other at a restaurant, after they’re forced to evacuate the Arconia due to the fire alarm. There, the three hang out and discuss a true-crime podcast they all mutually love, called, “All is Not OK in Oklahoma.”
When they return to their building, it’s revealed that a tenet has “committed suicide.” Intrigued, they all go and break back into their building to see the body, and realize that a young man named Tim Kono, who coincidentally also briefly rode the elevator with them earlier that day, is the victim.
While the police and other tenets are convinced that Kono’s death was a suicide, Charles, Oliver, and Mable believe that Kono was murdered and that the murderer lives in the building.
With this, they start up their investigation and true crime podcast to research the case, which they aptly title; Only Murders in the Building. Along the way, they discover things about each other, and mysteries surrounding their fellow tenets, including an unsolved crime that was committed in the building years ago.
In most cases, a show with this sort of premise wouldn’t be funny, instead, it would try to be suspenseful or maybe even a little melodramatic. However, nobody would expect any of that from a Steve Martin and Martin Short show. We knew it was going to be hilarious, but the question on my mind was, Was it also going to be a good mystery, or just a straightforward spoof?
Well, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only was it both, but it also did both well.
While funny, what caught my attention were the show's dramatic moments. All three characters are flawed people with sad pasts that they cover-up. However, with each episode, we learn about each character, and what motivates them.
The series does a great job of illustrating the masks we put on in society, pretending like our lives are perfect, when in reality we’re all living with our demons. That alone is something that everyone could relate to.
The show features an ensemble cast of well-known character actors, including Broadway legends like Nathan Lane and Jane Lynch, and Academy Award nominated actress, Amy Ryan, aka Holly from The Office.
Steve Martin and Martin Short didn’t disappoint either, being both hilariously over the top and yet subtly vulnerable. The performance that got my attention though was Selena Gomez’s.
It’s hard enough to be funny alongside these two, but to also hold your own as an actress is no easy task; and she does just that.
I’ve heard a few people complain that her performance was wooden and/or forced, which is completely ridiculous. If you haven’t yet seen the show but you’ve heard people say that about her, all I can say is, don’t listen. I may not be an acting expert, but I’ve seen enough performances, both good and bad, to know that this was a good one.
The other thing that stands out with this show is, of course, the writing.
Almost every episode is told through the perspective of a different character. Episode 7, titled The Boy from 6B, (which may just be one of the most original and intriguing episodes of television I’ve seen in a long time) is shown entirely through the eyes of a deaf character. The whole episode is silent, with no dialogue except for signed subtitles. As someone who has an interest in ASL, this was a particularly interesting episode for me. It also has a dark twist at the end that takes this show to a whole new level.
I know I say this often, but if you haven't yet seen it, do yourselves a favor and watch. If you have, then I know you’ll agree with me when I say, we’re ready for Season 2!