Throughout my summer, every Tuesday night has been blessed with a glass of wine and one deliciously suspenseful TV show featuring an unexpected sapphic relationship. No, it wasn’t First Kill (though RIP) but the critically- and myself-approved Only Murders in the Building. After a riveting first season filled with gripping plot points and a nail-biting twist, Mabel (Selena Gomez), Oliver (Martin Short), and Charles (Steve Martin) are back to solve the case: the murder of their Upper West Side building’s board president. However, the trio is being framed, and the only way to clear their reputations is to find the killer while maintaining their highly-rated true crime podcast.
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As a fan of season one, I could not have been more excited to see what new characters the writers would dream up next. When I heard the news that model-turned-actor Cara Delevigne would join the cast (without the American accent she’s seemingly adopted for every project she’s been a part of), I was excited. But as I tuned into the second season, fully suspecting a very tattooed, artsy version of Delevingne on my screen, for once, I was disappointed that I was right. As her screen time increased, my distaste for everything about this character grew. And seeing her with Mabel was the last straw.
As portrayed by Delevingne, Alice is one major ick, and I’m here to prove it.
Mabel Changed for Alice and It Makes Zero Sense
From the moment they met, Alice had an idealized image of Mabel in her mind. After seeing her stature as an artist and following her crime podcast, there’s no way Alice could view Mabel as another mundane person entering her life. Alice lies about her past until Oliver finally catches her. And what do you know? We have a plot twist: she’s not a starving artist but a privileged transplant using her network to pretend she has a strong background in art.
To my utter surprise (and disappointment), Mabel forgives Alice, equating the massive deceit—Alice’s untrue life story—to her own experience fibbing about knowing underground bands in low-stakes social situations. And to make matters worse, Mabel tries to forget the whole situation. Since when has Mabel blindly trusted someone she barely knows? OK, maybe Mabel is supposed to have grown after her fling with Oscar, but she doesn’t even tell Oliver and Charles everything about her past. This is incredibly frustrating since I need to know how many of her acquaintances met their demise via knitting needles.
Are we supposed to believe that Alice is so compelling of a character that Mabel would suddenly change into the forgive-and-forget kind of woman? Blasphemy. It’s clear that someone on the OMITB team thought Alice would be the woman Mabel could change for, but there isn’t a strong enough plotline for this to work. Alice has no more dimension than that matchbook that mysteriously appeared in her bag.
Alice Is Just Another Manic Pixie Dream Girl in Disguise
It’s 2022. I never thought I’d see the manic pixie dream girl trope picked up, dusted off, and repackaged into a WLW character, but here we are. Mabel fell for Alice because of her spontaneity and ability to “understand” Mabel like no one before. I didn’t fall for this charade for a minute. As soon as Alice told Mabel to let her frustrations out by destroying a statue, I knew she was written to be someone “different” from other girls. And was she trying to apologize with a quirky, carefully-crafted puzzle? Come on.
The problematic “she’s not like other girls” trope is rampant in early 2000s media. She’s unique, but she only stands out among other women because she’s also attractive. Often, these characters exist for a man to see what freedom and youth look like—when she probably wouldn’t survive in the real world. Her one-dimensional nature usually exists to appeal to the male gaze (think 500 Days of Summer). But, in OMITB, Alice isn’t trying to impress men. So does that make it better? I think not.
At first, Alice’s persona revolves around being a spontaneous outsider who knows what it’s like to let go. Though her character is explored later on, there’s nothing gripping about her until the dinner party episode. Even when we learn why she lied about her past, she still fits the description of the manic pixie girl: she couldn’t face who she was nor ruin Mabel with the truth. In short, the whole point of this character is to charm and exist for other people.
The Show Did Nothing With Her Costuming
OK, this last one may only bother me, but I can’t break down Alice without analyzing the lack of effort that went into her entire look.
From the moment Alice and her half-shaved head appeared on Mabel’s screen, I knew we would get nothing but a stereotypical masculine WLW look. Though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this—dress the way you want to dress, and if you can throw in a sign you like other women, more power to you—I was hoping that the costuming and hair department would have done a little more. You know, experiment with a hairstyle that Delevingne doesn’t usually wear, tell her she has the option to wear something other than a suit, and know that you don’t always have to highlight her arm muscles with tank tops. Well, on second thought, costuming probably knew what they were doing there.
Perhaps Delevingne’s wardrobe wouldn’t be bad in the C-rated films she’s been a part of before (I said what I said). But in this renowned Hulu TV show? Mabel’s serving us looks with chunky sweaters, orange fur, and styles we’ve literally never seen Gomez in—including the days of her layer-happy Disney stint. I’m no fashionista, but I wish it weren’t so obvious that someone behind-the-scenes Googled, “What makes an outfit gay?” We get it. She’s into other women and likes art. They could have done so much more with Alice, but instead, they made her look predictably edgy.
Between Mabel’s rejection of Alice and the fact that we’ve increasingly seen less of this unsavory character, I think the OMITB team has decided one of two things. Either Alice is gone for good (unlikely), or they’re gearing up for a big redemption arc. But does Alice deserve to be forgiven? Does her character contribute much to the franchise? Do she and Mabel have any real chemistry? Spoiler: the answer to each of these questions is, in my own humble opinion, a resounding no.
In the world of OMITB, Alice is a deceitful person trying to get into Mabel’s pants. She’s written into a problematic trope that perpetuates the idea that women must be “different” and spontaneous to receive attention. And, of course, nothing about Alice’s look as a WLW character broke any stereotypes of a sapphic woman’s appearance. I know we’re supposed to love to hate Alice. I certainly do. But relying on exhausted plotlines and problematic tropes isn’t the answer.