Only Murders In The Building: Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez

Only Murders In The Building: why we have all fallen for this unexpected autumn TV hit

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There’s still time to catch up with Only Murders In The Building before the next must-watch episode drops…

Confession time: I am a TV glutton. It comes with the territory of being an entertainment writer, I suppose, as I spend the majority of my days watching, reviewing, and getting hooked on new shows.

Every now and then, though, I stumble across the sort of series that makes me sit up a little straighter in my chair, gives me a huge dopamine hit, and prompts me to fire off a frenzied series of WhatsApp messages to everyone I love most.

“You absolutely have to watch this show,” I’ll type excitedly, fingers slipping on the keys. “It’s PERFECT.”

And reader, you better believe that I stumbled across one such show at the weekend. 

Only Murders In The Building - Selena Gomez as Mabel
Selena Gomez shines as Mabel in Only Murders In The Building.

Everything – and I mean everything – about Only Murders In The Building makes me incredibly happy. The oh-so-autumnal soundtrack, for example, features pop music by Dua Lipa, Broadway tracks and original songs by Emmy-nominated composer Siddhartha Khosla (as in, yes, the Khosla who worked on This Is Us). And the fashion – bold knits, covetable coats, and the sort of cosy sweaters that even Knives Out’s Chris Evans would be jealous of – is 100% a mood, too.

Then there’s the starry cast to contend with, particularly the impossibly charming trio at the show’s centre (here’s looking at you, Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short). The show’s ultra-silly, yet incredibly insightful, approach to true crime obsessives. The gorgeous NYC-in-the-fall backdrop. The seemingly unsolvable murder mystery effortlessly spinning at the show’s centre.

Best of all, though, is the fact that Only Murders In The Building isn’t really about crime; not really, anyway. Instead, it delivers a series of beautiful messages about loneliness in the big city, as it reminds us in no uncertain terms that real-life connection – and real-life connection with people we can trust implicitly – is truly the essence of wellbeing. 

I’m getting ahead of myself, of course. Let’s talk plot quickly, shall we?

Mabel (Gomez), Charles (Martin), and Oliver (Short) begin this series as strangers, despite the fact that they all live in the same building. Why? Well, because the Arconia is the sort of luxury apartment building that allows residents to listen through walls, catch snippets of conversation in the lobby and elevator, ‘accidentally’ open one another’s mail, and form fierce opinions about their neighbours – despite the fact that they’ve never taken the time to get to know one another.

Only Murders in The Building: production still
Only Murders In The Building is definitely a comedic murder-mystery series for the ages.

Our trio is brought together, however, when a fire alarm drives them out of the building and into a nearby restaurant, where they bond over their mutual love for Everything Is Not OK In Oklahoma, a true crime podcast hosted by a brilliantly cast Tina Fey.

It’s only natural, then, that when they return to the building and learn that one of their neighbours has died in mysterious circumstances, the trio takes it upon themselves to team up and solve the case (and record their own podcast at the same time, obviously). Despite the fact that, y’know, the police are adamant it’s an open-and-shut suicide case.

It’s a lot of fun to muddle through the clues that Mabel, Charles and Oliver pick up along the way – and there’s no point denying that everyone watching at home wants to solve that strange murder first (hell, I’ve a friend watching the series in Australia who keeps firing messages at me demanding to know my thoughts on who the killer really is).

That being said, though, the show’s charm doesn’t lie in its Agatha Christie-esque whodunnit, but in the fact that it’s been custom-made for 2021 audiences. Because Mabel, Charles, and Oliver are… well, they’re oddly disconnected from the world around them.

One hides herself away by employing heavy doses of sarcasm, another with overthought and over-scripted responses to every human interaction, and the third with an almost fierce sense of cheer; he doesn’t want anyone to know what’s simmering beneath his smiling exterior, because it would leave him exposed and vulnerable.

Watch the trailer for Only Murders In The Building below:

None of these characters are prepared to admit that they’re lonely, and so they build steeper and steeper walls around themselves. They overdose on terrifying true crime stories in place of human interaction. They spend 90% of their days convincing themselves that they’re absolutely fine. And we, all of us watching at home, know to some extent how this feels.

In this strange age of social distancing and lockdowns, we have all craved, yearned, and dreamed about spending time with people IRL. And, as the world continues to open back up, many of us will know how scary it feels to finally sit next to someone, feel their warmth against ours, and talk without a screen or mask between us.

Essentially, Only Murders In The Building might have been billed as a dark comedy, but it’s utterly relatable content. No wonder the first few episodes have already racked up a cool 100% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, eh?

The first three episodes of Only Murders In The Building are currently available to stream on Disney. 

New episodes will air weekly on Tuesdays.

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Images: Hulu

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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