REVIEW: ‘Only Murders in the Building’ is a Fall Television Tonic

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Only Murderers In the Building - But Why Tho

Murder. It brings people together. At least, that’s the case for three strangers in Only Murders in the Building. When a grisly homicide takes place in their Upper West Side apartment building, three tenants bond over their shared true-crime obsession and become consumed with the crime unfolding close to home. The odd trio – a former TV star, a disgraced Broadway director, and a mysterious young woman – become the unlikely investigative dream team, as they record their own true-crime podcast. Their path to the truth is obscured by twists, turns, and deceptions… including the lies they tell each other. The closer they come to unveiling the truth, the more dangerous the investigation becomes. Can the inexperienced trio depend on one another when the chips are down?

Only Murders in the Building is the creation of Steve Martin, John Hoffman (Grace & Frankie), and Dan Fogelman (This is Us). The charming murder-mystery stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez.

There’s no doubt that podcasts, especially true crime podcasts, are a pop culture phenomenon. While many shows and films have cracked jokes at the audio medium, Only Murders in the Building is instantly distinguishable for how it takes on the popular culture staple. This show is a fascinating means of approaching the world of podcasting and shows real appreciation for podcasting as a whole. While we may be watching the making of a podcast, the structure of the narrative, the twists and turns, follow the same beats as popular true-crime pods. If you are a fan of podcasts you will catch references and jokes sprinkled across the show and instantly recognize loving caricatures of the personalities of podcasting – from powerhouse hosts to super fans.

Only Murders in the Building is the television equivalent of snuggling up with a cozy cup of tea. There is something so classic about the show’s autumnal, New York setting. Despite the gruesome murder at the center, Only Murders in the Building is saturated in a jovial, sweet demeanor with just a slight quirky undercurrent. Like dark chocolate – bittersweet, but an indulgent treat. Our three main characters feel timeless in their good-natured wit. Always funny and light, but with the slightest touch of darkness. It’s a real joy to watch Martin, Short, and Gomez play together. The product is an infectiously warm comedy, with the intrigue to coax you into one episode after another.

While the series could easily get by on the merit of being a pleasant, easy-going watch, Only Murders in the Building is no slouch in delivering excitement and intrigue. While it gets no points for chilling, horror elements – the layers of this mystery lead to exciting, even gasp-worthy moments. The mystery is incredibly well done and the balance of humor and suspense is just delightful. Those that are true crime squeamish will have plenty of light-hearted reprieves, and bloodthirsty genre devotees will have plenty of close calls and shady figures to chew on.

Only Murders in the Building is a slow build that takes several episodes to find its stride, but once it gets going it’s well worth the wait. This first season does a lot of leg work, gathering up the secrets of these characters, and establishing a foundation of conspiracy with the hope of more murders and more seasons. Some viewers may find this tedious but I can’t emphasize enough that these characters – and the fantastic performances that bring them to life – are the lifeblood of the show. It’s reward enough to see these characters at work.

This is essential fall television viewing. Only Murders in the Building is a cozy, quirky watch that will reach hardcore true crime fans and casual genre lookie-loos equally. A perfect blend of intrigue, humor, atmosphere, and performances.

Only Murders in the Building premieres its first three episodes Tuesday, August 31 on Hulu with new episodes to stream weekly.

 

Only Murderers in the Building
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

This is essential fall television viewing. Only Murders in the Building is a cozy, quirky watch that will reach hardcore true crime fans and casual genre lookie-loos equally. A perfect blend of intrigue, humor, atmosphere, and performances.