By hamming home the true-crime angle and bringing tinges of comedy, the concept is wholesome and well delivered.
This review of Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building season 1 contains minor spoilers — the review is based on the first 3 episodes.
The world of true crime keeps evolving — in some quarters, it is forming into some monster, desperate for answers that are not there. Still, in other quarters, it is a vibrant community of curiosity and knowledge sharing. Of course, I believe that we will never know better than the crime experts that scour the scenes, but this conspiracy-based approach remains fascinating. This makes Hulu’s weekly series Only Murders in the Building an interesting comedic case study — detailing three characters with a true-crime obsession.
With the watery byline, “what if a true-crime podcaster was present at the scene from the start,” Only Murders in the Building gives our leading characters the opportunity to get to the bottom of a “closed case” in their apartment building. Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short are bundled together as those characters — on one fated night, while the police arrive at a crime scene deemed as suicide, these three characters learn that they are equally obsessed with true crime. In “armchair investigator” fashion, they decide to investigate findings themselves, despite the lead detective laughing off their nonsense and antagonizing them.
The irony in the comedy, especially in the first three episodes, is that, like true crime enthusiasts, the trio is clutching at straws, but at the same time, those straws could add meaning or mean nothing at all. Only Murders in the Building half-mocks those documentary series with the sudden revelations that could merely be coincidences. The Hulu series understands the culture, and it is scripted lightly in the story.
This series is fantastic. The chemistry between the leading cast members is naturalistic, bringing differing characters that complement each other. There’s an understanding that while this series brings comedy value, there’s a slight dark angle that will bring circumstances that go beyond a few laughs. The lead characters are so oddly unmatched that it does not make sense that they are a team, yet that makes the story so curious. By hamming home the true-crime angle and bringing tinges of comedy, the concept is wholesome and well delivered.
Of course, this is a review after a few episodes — Only Murders in the Building could drastically change by the time we reach the end. But early signs look promising — Hulu has a wonderful series on its hands.
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