The holy trinity of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez grace our screens in what is spectacularly fine season of TV. Only Murders in the Building sets up yet another murder mystery for us (and our crew of true crime podcasters) to solve, accompanied by brilliant comedic hijinks along the way.
The debut season’s mystery unfolded so nicely that it seemed like a tall order for the second season to hit that same level of quality. Thankfully, the minds behind the series have crafted yet another ten-episode bout that challenges audiences to find the killer as it heads towards a rewarding finale. Layered with little twists and turns, with supporting characters constantly popping in and out, this is a mystery designed to be hard to crack. Much like in the first season, the narrative offers little pockets of information at just the right moments – allowing you to guess and speculate, right before forcing you to second guess yourself. It makes for an exciting communal experience where everyone you know has a different name in mind who who they think did it.
In terms of pacing, that’s the only element where I’ll say this season ever so slightly fell short. There’s an episode or two in the middle of the season that didn’t really move things along in a particularly interesting way. As a whole, the episodes in question are fine, containing some good comedic beats and moments of character development, but they don’t do a lot to further the mystery at hand. We’re talking about two of the ten episodes, so it’s hardly a large concern – especially when the rest of the content is at such a high bar.
The brilliant writing extends to the focus placed on diving deep into our main trio of characters – giving us more insight into their past and personal lives. There are multiple episodes that seem to be hinged on one of our main characters, resolving some of their inner conflict and tying it in to the central narrative. It’s a great way to expand the scope of the storytelling beyond just the murder mystery, and without going off on multiple tangents. It does mean there’s a great deal of content that’s more on the emotional side in this season, but it’s balanced out well by that incredibly effective comedy.
The murder mystery angle is great, but it really acts as a conduit for the intelligently-written, witty and downright silly comedy that’s at the forefront of every episode. I might sound like a broken record, but the dynamic between Steve Martin and Martin Short is electric. This season proved that if you put this duo in a room together and have them go back and forth for an hour, it would be one of the most entertaining hours ever. Nearly every one of their interactions is hilarious, showing off their professionalism with some impeccable comedic timing. From laugh-out-loud moments to some subtle chuckles, there’s no shortage of joy being spread here. Then when you throw Selena Gomez’s more stern and direct style of comedy into the mix, it’s like a match made in heaven. If not for the existence of What We Do in the Shadows and the blend of personalities in that series, this trio would be the best comedic troupe on TV. I dare you to try watch this series without a dumb grin on your face 90% of the time – it’s impossible!
While we still have our main trio, the ‘residency’ of the Arconia expands greatly in this season, bringing in a flurry of new characters who all leave a mark on the series. If I went through them all we’d be here all day, but a few of the worthwhile series additions include Cara Delevingne’s Alice, Michael Rapaport’s Detective Krepps, Christine Ko’s Nina and Zoe Margaret Colletti’s Lucy. Each one adds something different to the narrative, expanding the variety of personalities we have floating around. One thing I love is how almost every single supporting character, including residents of the Arconia who only feature in a couple of scenes, contribute to the comedy in a unique way that makes them memorable. The minor interactions our trio has with characters who essentially ‘pass by’ for a minute add to the world building and idea that there’s a real, functioning community in the hotel.
In the end, Only Murders in the Building proves that the outstanding quality of its debut season was no fluke. The chemistry amongst Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez is incredibly strong, ensuring every episode is jam-packed with witty comedy, impactful emotional beats and great character development. Satisfying both comedy and murder mystery fans, this is a series you absolutely must jump on if you haven’t already. A joy to watch from beginning to end, it’s a stellar family watch and an all-round good time. Plus, with a third star-studded season on the way, now is the perfect time to watch!