We all have those lockdown habits which we never quite managed to shake off – like eating five meals a day and sitting through Zoom meetings, only clothed from the waist upwards. For many, a podcast and a walk became the primary mode of entertainment, and no type of podcast was more popular than true crime. After all, everybody loves a mystery, and no one more than the trio in this hit show.
Only Murders in the Building is a star-studded series, featuring Martin Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez – weird, we know, but somehow this strange intergenerational meshing works.
The premise is what The Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepingwall describes as “elegantly, addictively simple.” Three strangers, all living in the same Manhattan apartment block are inextricably bound together by a love for true crime podcasts and their proximity to a murder. It’s genius. They decide to try and solve their own case by making a podcast.
It sounds icky, but creators Steve Martin and John Hoffman, both seasoned with matters of the screen, manage to apply a smattering of self-awareness that allows for the premise to land. The show’s absurdity is validated by a fairly thick layer of meaning, with, as The New York Times’s Mike Hale suggests, each character representing “different shades of New York narcissism.”
The show’s main success comes from its ability to, as Sepingwall states, “take the mystery itself seriously, as well as the lonely inner lives of these unlikely sleuths”, balancing being “keenly self-aware” and “blessedly silly”. A good combination if you ask us.
However, be warned – The Guardian’s Adrian Horton is less of a fan, hailing it a “hit-and-miss whodunnit”, with jokes which “often boil down to “older person attempts to relate to millennial” …at best mildly amusing.” Ouch.
Still, we think it’s charming, creative, and even fit with cameos from Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Tina Fey and Sting. We reckon it’s one crime scene worth a visit.
First shown August 2021.