Crime podcasts, YouTube channels, TV shows—you name it, and I’m there. So when the Hulu original true crime and comedy hybrid Only Murders in the Building dropped, I was intrigued. An avid Nancy Drew fan (and self-proclaimed lock picker) in my childhood, I knew this show would be right up my alley. And once I saw that Selena Gomez would grace me with her presence in every single episode of the series? Well, now I had to watch.
your one-way ticket to your cool, calm, and collected era
The murder mystery TV show stars Gomez along with renowned actors Steve Martin and Martin Short as an unlikely trio of friends in the exclusive Upper West Side Arconia Building as they solve the murder of fellow resident Tim Kono. As any true crime junkies would, the three realize the police are wrong in their ruling of Kono’s death as a suicide. With a passion for uncovering the truth and searching through a dead neighbor’s apartment, they take the mystery into their own hands. Documenting their progress, the three create a podcast called, you guessed it, Only Murders in the Building. While each member of the group possesses a deep love for true crime, their conflicting personalities and ability to turn any situation into a hilarious exchange create a thrilling yet quirky adventure. It’s heartfelt, it’s funny, and there’s a dash of danger—a perfect recipe for a true-crime show.
Though the anticipation of having to wait for new episodes every week week nearly killed me, I made it to the final episode and just need to talk about all of the best moments from the series (and the plot twists!). Here are the best moments and takeaways from Only Murders in the Building—and don’t worry, you won’t find major spoilers here!
1. Selena Gomez Can Do No Wrong, Ever
While this may have been a well-established fact if you ever paid any attention to anything Ms. Gomez has worked on, from her own makeup line to her most recent acting gigs, it’s clear that Selena can truly own any role she gets. In Only Murders in the Building, Gomez plays Mabel, a mysterious yet sassy and wicked-smart city girl whose affinity for solving mysteries makes her all the more drawn to the case of Tim Kono. Describing sneaking into a dead guy’s apartment and going through his stuff as “an afternoon,” Mabel doesn’t shy away from danger. I mean, our first introduction to Mabel is seeing her relish in a dream of stabbing a man to death with her knitting needle, so we know we’re in for a powerhouse of a woman.
While Gomez does an impeccable job of playing the witty, independent woman we all want to be, she also flawlessly shows a more vulnerable side to Mabel. Let’s take, for example, Mabel’s relationship with Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short), two “olds” who make up a caring yet, at times, awkward remainder of the mystery-solving trio. When Charles commits a 21st-century faux pas of signing his name at the end of a text to Mabel, we see our first instance of a smile from the tough-as-nails New Yorker Gomez portrays. I even found myself chuckling as she responded, “FYI, you don’t need to sign your name.”
2. We Need More Parodies of Crime Shows
Regarding the story itself, Only Murders in the Building is a show I never knew I needed in my true crime love life, but wow was I happy Hulu brought us together. Even in the first episode, the lively theme song is our first clue in seeing that this isn’t going to be the dark, serious murder mystery we’ve grown accustomed to. From our introduction to Charles, a Hollywood has-been, and Oliver, an absolute theater-geek looking to make a quick buck anywhere he can, we can see that though the show depicts a grisly murder, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. And as a viewer with a love for the kind of humor this comedy-meets-drama supplied on the regular, I was happy to sit back and laugh.
On the surface, Only Muders in the Building appears to be a crime drama. If you look past the clever dialogue and utterly absurd situations each character finds themselves in, it is about solving a murder. But, with a deeper look, we see that the show is genius in that it actually satirizes other murder mysteries. Completely self-aware of 2021’s influencer culture, our characters don’t want to simply solve a mystery, they want to create an entire podcast centered around the death of a neighbor—and, of course, get rich while doing it. With references to murder mystery tropes like following a cab around a city to a plethora of old-school Hardy Boys references, this gives us a refreshing take on the classic crime drama genre.
3. You Don’t Have to Have Everything Figured Out, No Matter Where You Are in Life
This show was more than I expected in its perfect blend of comedy and crime, but what I really didn’t expect was the show’s depiction of Charles and Oliver. While Charles is an ex-actor of a somewhat forgotten TV series, Brazzos, Oliver hasn’t had much luck in his theater career despite seemingly giving it his all. Both men clearly want more out of their lives, and, as unconventional as it seems, solving a murder together was just what they needed to finally find a larger purpose.
Only Murders in the Building makes a bold choice to focus on the personal growth and, as I have dubbed, a second coming of age story of two characters you would think would have everything figured out by now. Instead of giving us the worn-out narrative of the ambitious 20-something-year-old trying to make it big in their career, we see Charles and Oliver struggle with decision-making in their family life and financial situations. Charles grows from a socially anxious loner to the level-headed, sure-of-himself leader of a podcast. Who would have thought a retired actor and Oliver, a theater director who hasn’t had work in ages, were the perfect recipe to run such a successful podcast? If anything, Charles and Oliver show us that you don’t need to have everything figured out early in life; you just have to roll with the punches and follow your passion.
4. Sting Really Should Have Done More Acting
The cast of Only Murders in the Building is star-studded, with the likes of Tina Fey and Jane Lynch accompanying the already impressive main roles. However, just four episodes in, in an episode appropriately titled, “The Sting,” we see former frontman of the Police, Sting, appear as one of the murder-fearing residents of the Arconia. The “Every Breath You Take” singer stars as himself—because seriously, who else could Sting play?—and for a brief minute, he even becomes a suspect of the murder.
Each scene with Sting made me laugh, from the moment our mystery-solving trio brought him a turkey dinner to Sting’s several diva-esque outbursts. We’re able to join Charles and Oliver in their starstruck excitement since, they too, make a big deal out of the fact that the music icon is in the show.
Though the show didn’t bless us with his presence in every single episode (sigh), we do learn that he can hold his own as an actor. I mean, seeing that he depicted a slightly more aggressive and cocky version of himself, I was considering if Sting could really be a cold-blooded killer. Bottom line: I fully expect Sting to do more acting in the future because it’s clear that he has the acting chops.
5. You Really Don’t Know Your Neighbors
With a title containing the word “murder,” you already know that the show is going to give twists and turns and a healthy dose of betrayal. And let me tell you, we get all that and more. Throughout the series, the show slowly introduces us to every Arconia resident—AKA a possible killer—and their backstories and alibis as Oliver, Charles, and Mabel come closer to revealing the murderer. At first, each character appears normal and even bland, but we come to find out what makes each person tick, what they may have noticed the night of the murder, and in the case of Howard, the father of a recently deceased cat, what’s in their freezer.
While I’m all for seeing the residents of the Arconia bicker, banter, or yell at each other—pure entertainment—I began to wonder how well I really know my own neighbors. Only Murders in the Building goes to show that not everyone appears as they seem. While I’m not a proponent of running around thinking my neighbors are murderers (my life is far too boring for that sort of thing), the true crime genre makes a point of saying you never know that much about a person from mundane elevator small talk or passing each other on the street.
Truly, we never know what someone else is going through, so shouldn’t we make it a point to get to know our neighbors a little better? Without a trio of strangers talking to each other, we never would have gotten our favorite podcasting group. So maybe take this as a sign to strike up a conversation with your neighbor—just hope that they don’t have a cat in their freezer.
6. Don’t Listen to the (Podcast) Haters
A little cliche in and of itself, if the characters of Only Murders in the Building can teach you anything, it’s to focus on what you know is best for you because you know yourself best. If Mabel would have listened to her mom and stayed away from the investigation, she wouldn’t have solved the murder. If Oliver would have listened to literally anyone around him, he wouldn’t have initiated a podcast that became one of New York’s favorites. Sure, facing danger like this may not be the best advice to listen to, but there’s some truth in that you can’t listen to what everyone else says you should do. Sometimes, you have to go off the beaten path.
Oliver, especially in his own eccentric way, can be a handful and sometimes completely cringey. I mean, trying to sell your murder podcast merch at a resident meeting about said murder? Not the move. But the way he marches to the beat of his own drum, fearlessly making a scene but getting stuff done everywhere he goes, basically made him my role model. It was his own idea to look into the case when the police ruled Tim Kono’s death to be a suicide, and it turns out, he, along with Charles and Mabel, were right in doing their own investigation.
Oliver, while unconventional, is a reminder that in all you do, going your own way—whether it’s to create your own podcast, start your own theater production, or maybe even cook a turkey for a dinner party with Sting—can be just what you need.
7. Bonus: Trust Your Gut Feeling
Without giving any *major* spoilers away, the last episode of the series comes with a huge plot twist. Though our favorite trio has taken down Tim Kono’s killer, we still see Mabel feel a little uneasy as everyone around her celebrates a closed case. Over a glass of champagne, she asks, “Doesn’t it feel like there’s still a few loose ends?” That’s when I knew in my gut that something wasn’t right. Of course, the finale of the episode reveals a bloody truth and we know Mabel was right in trusting her own intuition and keeping her guard up, even as Charles and Oliver relaxed.
And what can us mystery fanatics learn from this? Whether you’re searching for a killer or wondering if you kept your garage door open, trust your gut feeling. You’ll thank me—and Mabel—later.
Only Murders in the Building is what I would call a joyous yet dark misadventure of what has to be the most lovable trio of amateur sleuths. While at heart the show is a story of a murder and an unpredictable mission to find a killer, there’s so much more than that. Mabel is tough as nails and totally an inspiration to me (and my closet), Charles shows me that letting go and taking a breather are necessary, and Oliver is a reminder to not care about what other people think.
Whether you watched the series along with me or needed a reason to start it, you’ll definitely want to solve the mystery of what happens in season two. Hulu confirmed Only Murders in the Building for another season, and while it may be wrong, I can’t wait for more murders and misadventures at the Arconia. So, while we wait, pick up a Hardy Boys book, grab your knitting needle, and pay attention to your neighbors—you might even find your own mystery to solve.