There are few things more addictive than a good mystery. Murder podcasts in particular seem to have a tremendous appeal, and the only way to make that concept even more enthralling is to create a TV show about podcasters embroiled in their own murder mystery. Season one of Only Murders in the Building showed how much fun it could be, and while some shows have trouble recapturing the excitement and energy of how they started when they come back for subsequent rounds, this one is just as terrific in its second outing.
While the central case from season one has now been solved, there’s still plenty going on within the walls of the Arconia luxury building in New York City. Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) are now persons of interest in the death of Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell), and despite being warned not to continue podcasting and to stay out of trouble, it doesn’t take long for them to begin recording again and broadcasting their theories about who else in the building might have been as motivated as they were to take out the cantankerous board president.
Part of what made Only Murders in the Building so fantastic and watchable in season one was that it presented both a compelling murder mystery and a hilarious parody of it at the same time. Its three protagonists are obsessed with true crime podcasts, and they were also living in one. The challenge of having them go through something that could be mocked at the same time was entirely met, with an appropriate infusion of humor tempered by the absolutely superb musical score by Siddhartha Khosla, which serves as a constant reminder that there could be danger lurking around every corner.
The start of season two brings with it a few new guest stars, with each character getting a new colleague or scene partner who could take them on an interesting journey. The celebrity-obsessed Oliver meets Amy Schumer, playing herself, who wants to buy the rights to the podcast and turn it into a streaming series that sounds a lot like this one, albeit with herself in the lead role and less of a focus on irrelevant supporting players like Oliver. Mabel meets a creative artist, Alice Banks (Cara Delevingne), who develops a close personal and professional connection with her. And, as Charles is recruited to play the uncle of his famed TV character, Detective Brazzos, in a reboot, he begins to question aspects of his childhood he may have previously not understood, which include meeting the late Bunny’s mother Leonora, portrayed by the legendary Shirley MacLaine, still stealing scenes at age 88.
Those who enjoyed the pacing and tongue-in-cheek nature of the first season should be fully satisfied with how season two only enhances that. In one scene where the three main characters share an elevator, Oliver makes a comment about Mabel’s headphones, pointing out that it’s a callback to an early scene, even though she’s not actually wearing headphones in that moment. He also still obsesses about recording spontaneous lines that will be perfect for use in the podcast, and both Mabel and Charles also do their best to contribute what they can to telling a compelling story in a dynamic and enticing way.
If this show ran for many more seasons, the title might have to change to expand to crimes that happen outside of just this one building. But, for the moment, there seems to be more than enough material that can be covered by the colorful characters who live in the Arconia. The half-hour format works very well since each episode presents exactly the right amount of intrigue to ensure viewers will tune in for the next installment. Dropping just one episode each week is a strategy that’s equally brilliant and maddening, since this is the kind of series that audiences will surely want to binge as quickly as possible.
Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.
New episodes of Only Murders in the Building premiere Tuesdays on Hulu.