Only Murders in the Building knows that people don’t like real crime for blood or mystery – but for camaraderie
The protagonists of Only the murders in the building are dedicated New Yorkers. They are New Yorkers in a way that may seem fictional, until you move to New York and realize that such New Yorkers actually exist. This particular trio exists on the Upper West Side of Manhattan – the artistic and whimsical neighborhood inhabited by Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You’ve got mail.
True to their New York habits, Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) do not speak to their neighbors. That is, until one of them is murdered. From then on, they are chatting in the elevators, whispering in the hallways and, of course, launching a podcast on the real crime together. Because Only the murders in the building knows that people don’t get into real crime for the sake of gore and mystery. Not really. Only the murders in the building knows that the people who love real crime are there for the people they meet along the way. For the common language of an enigma to be solved. For the shared experience of a story, however macabre it may be.
Only the murders in the building begins with the death of Tim Kono (Julian Cihi), a young inhabitant of Arconia (an apocryphal and upscale building), where our trio also resides. They are as New Yorkers as they come: Charles is a failed actor; Oliver is a Broadway director plagued by an overwhelming lack of forethought. As for Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), well, her life is full of secrets, but she dresses nicely, walks the streets with her headphones stuck to her ears, and wields sarcasm like Gordon Ramsay wields kitchen knives. . So, yes: New Yorker.
Their neighbor Tim, it quickly turns out, was not exactly loved by his fellow Arconians. Rather the opposite. And although his death is considered a suicide by the authorities, Charles, Oliver and Mabel do not accept this theory. They think someone killed him and they are determined to find out who did it.
Without revealing too much, Mabel – whose past is offered in flashbacks throughout the series – is the only one with good reason to question the detective story. Charles and Oliver, on the other hand? We have the impression that they want to things are more complicated than that. They want an investigation. They want a real crime podcast. They want friends with whom to start a podcast on real crime.
Not that the only Charles would ever admit it. But one episode after another, it opens up, not only to Mabel and Oliver, but to others in the building as well. After living in isolation for years, healing the emotional wounds of his past, he makes himself vulnerable again. Watching Only the murders in the building, I wasn’t worried that the trio wouldn’t solve the mystery of Tim Kono’s (sorry, Tim Kono) death. I was afraid they would argue, because their friendship is the whole point of the show.
Only the murders in the building wouldn’t have stolen my heart without the absolutely brilliant work of the main cast. Martin and Short have been friends for over three decades (since working together on the 1986 Three Amigos!). Their bond brings radiant and warm energy to every scene they share. Gomez is their perfect third musketeer – the result of a conscientiously honed connection. “They don’t know what to expect from a 29-year-old woman, and they don’t know much about me,” she said. The New York Times. “We were getting to know each other. Short recently said The New Yorker that “my thing is to make everyone like me”; the adage will apply both to his career in general and to Only the murders in the building More precisely.
Tonally, the show has nuances of Knives Out, another recent mystery treasure (a cozy mystery typically involves “an amateur sleuth, an unsuspecting victim, an eccentric supporting cast, and a trail of clues and red herrings,” according to author Amanda Flower). It is the perfect vehicle for a fun and gentle dive in the genre.
The problem with real crime is that people usually come in because they’ve been through their own traumas and hardships. True crime fans – like Charles, Oliver, and Mabel – are onlookers, occasional makers, and sometimes misguided. But they are also almost always tender. When Only the murders in the building embraces this contradiction, beauty follows.