“Only Murders” a fun romp for mystery fans

Rishi Ramesh, Dougherty Valley High School

The first season of “Only Murders in the Building” revolves around a murder investigated by a rag-tag team of crime podcast aficionados. 

The first episode of the 10-episode season was released Aug. 31 on Hulu, setting a record for the most-watched comedy premiere in Hulu history. The show starts off slow, making sure to lay down the foundation for each character, but quickly picks up steam, delving deep into the secrets that the plethora of characters harbors.

The plot mainly focuses on three people: Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), the reclusive retired lead of a popular 1990s cop show called “Brazzos”; Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), an eccentric cash-strapped Broadway director; and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), a resilient, tenacious young woman renovating her aunt’s apartment. All three discover their shared love for a certain true-crime podcast, leading them to band together.

Screams, sirens and surprises greet viewers in the first episode as police storm the Arconia, a classic New York City apartment building where the show’s lead characters reside and where a terror-stricken Mabel clutches the bloody body of an unknown person. The following scenes give viewers time to regain their breath, slowly introducing each of the three main characters and their daily schedules separately – until the grisly murder occurs. 

The show picks up pace when Tim Kono, a fellow resident of the Arconia, is found dead in his apartment. While the police are quick to deem the death a suicide, the trio remain skeptical, investigating their suspicions through a podcast titled after the scope they decide upon after debate: “Only Murders in the Building.”

The chemistry between the lead trio is palpable, and their growing pains and feuds as an up-and-coming podcast are sure to evoke laughter. Seeing the older men, Charles and Oliver, try to converse with the much-younger Mabel, underlines the generation gap the trio needs to overcome while working on the case.

Camaraderie is spotlighted through the show, and just like any real-life scenario, the leads don’t mesh well with each other right off the bat. Instead, secrets are kept hidden, tempers flare and the investigation is hindered. The pasts of Oliver, Mabel and Charles are full of important details, and their choices to hide these facts from the other members of the team get in the way of the podcast.

The representation of the main characters as everyday humans with their own flaws and problems has to be appreciated, especially in a time where most other characters are shown as supreme heroes who do no wrong. This makes the show more relatable, as many viewers can emotionally connect with the obstacles. For example, Oliver faces regret every day for his past Broadway plays that were far from successes. Therefore, he tries to compensate for his actions through this podcast, which brings other characters into the fold as well.

In case the lead trio wasn’t enough, a variety of cameos and characters are also introduced, like Cinda Canning (Tina Fey), who looks to help the team with their podcast, and Sazz Pataki (Jane Lynch), Charles’ larger-than-life stunt double from his acting days. Each character, no matter how much screen time they have, has an impact on the plot of the story, and not until the final episode titled “Open and Shut” do all the loose ends get cleared up. 

With enough twists and turns to put a roller coaster to shame, “Only Murders” thrives on its aura of uncertainty. As more info about the case is released, viewers and characters alike realize there’s so much they don’t know. 

However, by the end of the season, the puzzle begins to fall into place and the issue is set to rest. Or is it? Just like all of the other episodes, the last episode of the first season brings along a new conundrum which the amateur sleuths have to uncover, setting up the course for Season 2. 

All in all, “Only Murders in the Building” makes for an exhilarating watch, perfect for both hardcore mystery fans and someone simply looking for a quick binge. The peculiar atmosphere and dashes of comedy sprinkled into the show only add to its overall appeal, truly making it a show to “die” for.