Warning: this review contains spoilers for Only Murder in the Building based only on trailers and promotional materials, as well as major spoilers for OMITB season one.
Take a deep breath and get cozy because the most delicious murder mystery/comedy series of 2021, Only Murders in the Building, is back with a bang for its second season — although thankfully not literally this time, after the season one finale already left us with another bloody murder on our hands.
The fast pace of the most watched Hulu comedy throws viewers into the mystery before there is any time to settle in. Nothing less is expected of this comedic whodunit series that set the bar sky high with season one, getting a rare 100 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and receiving 17 Primetime Emmy nominations, including two nominations for two of the show’s lead actors, Martin Short and Steve Martin.
The idea for the series came to Martin shortly before the pandemic and was influenced by his own love for true crime. According to co-creator John Hoffman in a Rolling Stone interview, Martin is “always listening to true crime podcasts.” Hoffman himself became interested in true crime after the murder of a friend he had lost touch with. His own journey of finding answers and closure inspires Mabel Mora’s journey in the series as she tries to navigate the murder and tumultuous last years of her childhood friend Tim Kono, according to an article published in Rolling Stone.
The care and intention Martin and Hoffman put into “Only Murders” are obvious, especially throughout season two, where the series is just taken to the next level.
Season two picks up right where the first left off, with the quirky main trio of Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), Charles-Hayden Savage (Steve Martin), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) being interrogated by the police for allegedly being involved in the most recent murder at the swanky Arconia, the murder of the not-so-beloved board president, Bunny Folger. The rest of the series follows the aftermath of Bunny’s death and is narrated by various ensemble members. An episode entitled “Bunny’s last day,” reveals that Bunny may not have been the old grouch that everyone thought she was.
We also get to delve into some of the best murder mystery tropes, including a power outage that leaves New York in the dark, a missing painting, a fake disappearance, and a big Agatha Christie-style reveal at the end of the season bringing suspects and our beloved main characters in the same room for a “killer reveal party.”
There are two things this time around that really take Only Murders to the next level, the first being that the perfect balance between genuine scares and suspense, emotional moments, and riotous humour is struck. One perfect example is in episode eight when the trio is literally running for their lives, being chased by the killer. While running for his life, Oliver is tormented at the thought of ditching his beloved dips that were only just gifted to him, which are slowing him down. The dips do end up saving the day, to which Oliver declares, “Is there nothing that dips can’t do?” It’s so damn funny but with that edge of danger still lingering in the background.
The second thing that the series does right this time around is the superb multi-generational humour. This humour is also prevalent in the first season but is top-notch in the second with the introduction of Lucy, Charles’ former stepdaughter, who is in the prime of her teenage years and the epitome of Gen Z.
Many of the truly laugh-out-loud moments are prompted by Charles’ lack of understanding when it comes to Gen Z lingo and texting style. As he says, “It’s like watching Squid Game without the subtitles.” This already happened a lot in season one in interactions with Mabel, but it’s fantastic how Lucy even bewilders the millennial Mabel.
As a bonus, I love how we keep the characters we know and love and the creators take their stories further, creating a more emotional experience for the viewer. This makes for some of the best scenes in the show, including flashbacks showing the relationship between Mabel and her father, and Teddy Dimas and Oliver in their younger years.
I cannot in good conscience write this review without mentioning the incredible cast of the series. Steve Martin and Martin Short are comedic legends and to see their chemistry and banter on screen is simply a privilege. Selena Gomez also shines as the broody Mabel, who is processing trauma from her childhood while also reeling from the two murders she has witnessed at the Arconia.
Some honourable supporting cast mentions this season include James Caverly as Theo Dimas, Cara Delevigne as Alice Banks, Tina Fey as Cinda Canning, and Adina Verson as Poppy White. These characters make for a lot of laughs and help keep us guessing on who the killer really is.
All in all, this season, just like the first, deserves nothing but praise. It has all the cozy feels of an old-fashioned murder mystery with contemporary energy brought in by the podcast-centred nature of their detective work and a twist ending that does not disappoint. I give this season a solid 5/5.
The Hulu original is available in Canada on Disney +. In July 2022, the series was renewed for a third season.