Remember when it used to be a rarity to find someone with their own podcast? Nowadays, it seems like just about everyone from your uncle to your hairstylist has one. That’s the sentiment Hulu’s tapping into with their newest show, Only Murders in the Building, which centers on three New York neighbors that start a true-crime podcast together — and eventually find themselves wrapped up in one.
Mabel (Selena Gomez) is the millennial whose humor and tone come with a drier than the desert delivery. Charles Hayden-Savage (Steve Martin) is a has-been actor from a popular ’90s procedural crime drama called Brazzos. His one-liners are delivered with nacho cheesy goodness. And rounding out this trio is Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), who is the down-on-his-luck Broadway director so far in debt he can’t afford dinner. Together, the three discover a mutual obsession with a fictional crime podcast called All is Not OK in Oklahoma (hosted by Tina Fey) when they are forced to evacuate their apartments after a dead body was discovered in their building, the Arconia.
Even though the cops conclude that fellow neighbor, Tim Kono (Julian Cihi), died by suicide, the three decide in a New York minute that isn’t the case. In fact, it was a murder (gasp!). Seizing on the opportunity to create a podcast from the beginning, as it is being investigated, the three set off in search of answers.
Other notable stars on the Hulu series include Aaron Dominguez (Two Sides & Shaft). Dominguez plays Oscar, the son of the building’s superintendent. Amy Ryan is Jan, a love interest to Steve Martin’s character. And musician Sting is himself a fellow resident of the Arconia, as is Nathan Lane who plays benefactor to Oliver’s Broadway plays.
The show hits all the right notes. It’s witty, comedic, smart, and executed marvelously by the two Martins. Add to that the sardonic tone that melts over the show from Gomez and you may have to remind yourself that this is a parody. Also, at first look at the star-powered duo of the two Martin’s (Steve and Short), it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to think Gomez is outmatched. Film and television fans have been used to her as the sweet Disney star of Wizards of Waverly Place or as the voice of Mavis in the Hotel Transylvania franchise. And music fans have long been supportive of her album releases.
That is to say that while Gomez has had a following for years, it’s not a following you would think would be shared with the likes of Steve Martin and Martin Short. After Only Murders in the Building, you should, though. In addition, the generational gap in the show is fully intended, but it is also fully taken advantage of in the best possible ways in this show. And nowhere in the first few episodes does Gomez come across as anything other than an equal scene partner to two of the most legendary comedians ever.
Only Murders in the Building premieres on August 31st with three episodes. A new episode will drop weekly afterward.