As one of The Dispatch’s podcast producers, I felt a moral obligation to review Only Murders in the Building, Hulu’s new, original, murder-mystery series starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez. You’ll find out why me being a podcast producer matters in a minute.
But first, I need to level with you. I am a huge Steve Martin and Martin Short fan. I love everything Martin and Short do, respectively, and whenever they team up I can’t get enough of it. How can you not love a two-man show titled An Evening You’ll Forget for the Rest of Your Life, their Netflix special? And, frankly, the Three Amigos is consistently underrated as one of the best comedies ever made. Plus, I may or may not have had a small celebrity crush on Selena Gomez when I was a kid. So when I saw these three were joining together to make a comedic murder mystery I could not wait to see it.
Now, Martin and Short being in a show together makes sense, but throwing Gomez into the mix? My first thought was, “What is going to link all of these characters together?” That question is answered quickly. Within the first 10 minutes, we find out that not only do they all live in the Arconia, a beautiful (and fictional) old-school New York apartment building—but they are all listening to the same true-crime podcast about a murder in Oklahoma.
Then, disaster, or as the characters soon realize, opportunity, strikes when a possible murder happens in their own building. The trio decides there’s only one thing to do: produce a podcast about it.
The show successfully pokes fun at the never-ending true-crime podcast craze, with a jaded cop complaining about their annoying questions and late night scrummaging through a dumpster to find evidence.
The light-hearted comedy and juxtaposition of different personalities is what grabbed me right away with this show. Short’s character, Oliver, is a washed-up Broadway director with a knack for one-liners, and his friendly banter stands in contrast to Gomez’s standoffish demeanor. But what seems like a relatively heart-warming comedy takes a turn, and once the show gets going viewers become aware that the murder in the building is far from the only mystery in this show. In fact, it may be the least interesting mystery of them all.
The mystery is fun, and it’s enjoyable to try to guess who did what, when, and all the details in between. But the real personal problems the characters are dealing with and working through by trying to solve this crime are what make the show worth watching struggles of loneliness, financial hardship, and trying to find a sense of belonging upstage the mystery.
But it is, after all, a comedy. One starring Steve Martin and Martin Short. So expect to laugh when you’re supposed to laugh, enjoy the beautiful, old New York apartment building shots and the random (very New York) cameos, but don’t get so lost in all of that that you lose focus from the main point of the show: human connection.