REVIEW: ‘Only Murders in the Building’ A modern comedy in the age of true-crime

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By Vianney Morales 

The star-studded cast of  “Only Murders in the Building” returns in the highly anticipated second season of the Hulu Original Series.

The season begins as a direct continuation of former building manager Bunny’s shocking death as the gang attempts to solve the murder and understand why Mabel, portrayed by Selena Gomez, is being framed for it.

In true whodunnit fashion, the gang (better known by those around them as the hosts of a newly popular true crime podcast) suspects everyone they cross paths with as they unravel the intertwinings between their lives and Bunny’s life.

Now that the first season established the backstories of the main characters, the second season builds upon this into a complicated but intriguing plot.

What makes the series distinctive and this season so alluring is how well it taps into the relatively unmarked true-crime satire genre. It makes the audience reflect on their own consumption of true crime and its morality. The podcast host character Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) is an exaggerated personification of the true-crime viewer who views tragedy as entertainment, ignoring the pain and ramifications of treating victims as characters in a story. It acts as a social commentary while maintaining the essence of its intriguing plot that keeps the audience invested throughout the season.

Despite its positive qualities as a whole, there were minor details that weakened the focus of some episodes. One being the random and distracting guest stars that didn’t contribute much to the plot. Comedian Amy Schumer plays herself and is seemingly set up to play a role later in the series. However, she seems to disappear as quickly as she entered the show.

Then, there’s a family secret revealed about Oliver (Martin Short) that’s made to have a greater significance than it actually did. However, I think containing these irrelevant details can be positive because it forces the audience to make their own judgements and theorize with the small clues that they have, thereby increasing their interest and suspense.

Additionally, there were notable supporting characters this season. I particularly enjoyed Michael Rapaport’s performance as Detective Kreps. I thought his character was set up appropriately and meaningfully with an ultimately satisfying payoff. There are other interesting characters that all have their own distinctive, big personality. While having so many prominent characters can sometimes work against a series, the writers are very intentional with nearly every character and their relevance to the main cast and overall involvement in the story. It’s also a feature that truly qualifies the series as a whodunit. Despite the sometimes haunting nature of the series, there are strong friendships that give the show its humanity.

The unlikely friendship between Mabel, Oliver and Charles (Steve Martin) helps to ground the story. Despite their wide age gaps, their common interest in true crime and drive to bring justice helps bind them all together as a solid friend group that lays the season’s strong foundation. They act as some sort of moral compass for the series as they expose injustice.

Their collective chemistry is what makes the comedy aspect of the series work so well.

The end of the season only leaves the audience wanting more from the series. With a surprising actor making a cameo and another mysterious death in the season’s final minutes, I have a feeling that there are moments from the second season that will be further elaborated on in the third season.

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