10 Essential Things to Know About 'Only Murders in the Building … – Collider

Maybe there’s a little more than murder going on the this building!
Only Murders In The Building is a true crime murder mystery comedy that debuted on Hulu last year and is releasing its second season on June 28. An improbable trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez make up a team of amateur sleuths who bond over their shared love of true-crime podcasts.
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The series has compelling characters, great writing, and a fun ensemble cast propping up the charming leads. With the second season fast approaching, fans want to bone up while new fans want to catch up. The first season is highly rewatchable, especially as viewers hunt for clues they missed the first time, but either way the show has some essential facts that will prove useful to all detectives in its audience.
The first season stars off with all three lead characters meeting for the first time in a bar across the street from their New York City apartment building, which has just been evacuated. Charles (Martin) nabs the last available table, but Oliver (Short) and Mabel (Gomez) soon join him since all three were interrupted while listening to their favorite true-crime podcast, All Is Not OK in Oklahoma.
The evacuation turns out to be due to a murder in their building and the victim, Tim Kono, had shared an elevator with these three just minutes before his death. Seizing on the opportunity to investigate a murder from the very beginning, Charles, Mabel, and Oliver decide to start their own podcast. The cops quickly rule Kono’s death a suicide, but soon the podcast is revealing all kinds of missed clues and bungled police work.
Charles is a former TV actor, having starred in a cop show called Brazzos in the 90s. He is occasionally recognized on the street as “Hey aren’t you that guy?” to which he is quick to answer yes. Charles identifies heavily with the character, sometimes lapsing into monologues from the show that he passes off as his own. During the series, Charles begins dating Jan (Amy Ryan), a bassoonist who quickly becomes the podcast’s Yoko.
Steve Martin is the show’s co-creator even though this is his first starring role in television in his decades-long career. Adding Selena Gomez to six-time collaborators Steve Martin and Martin Short creates a striking chemistry, particularly due to a generational gap often mined for laughs.
Oliver is a former, failed, disgraced Broadway producer who aimed high and fell hard. He’s barely hanging on to his apartment at the Arconia, having failed to pay his fees in many months. He’s been borrowing money from his grown son with whom his relationship is rocky at best, having not been present in his childhood. Oliver’s other baby, Winnie, is a pampered dog who gets carted around in a stroller. He maintains a diet of only dips.
Oliver, dramatic through and through, often causes the scene to shift towards theatrical, which is always a delight. He’s a bit flighty, as evidenced by his unlocked front door, despite the murderer in the building, to which Mabel quips “I guess old guys are only afraid of colon cancer and societal change.”
Mabel grew up in the Arconia while visiting her aunt. She had a tight group of friends, one of whom, Oscar (Aaron Dominguez), is about to get out of prison having served his sentence for the death another friend, Zoe. Tim Kono was the fourth member of their group, but Mabel’s kept that fact secret from Charles and Oliver. Instead, she dreams about stabbing intruders to death with her knitting needles.
Selena Gomez’s acidity helps cut through the sticky sweetness of her two clownish co-leads. The pairing is surprising but inspired. The series finds generational comedy’s sweet spot, and goes back to that fountain often, giving Oliver and Charles the opportunity to ponder whether a call or a text is more appropriate, with Oliver surmising “Calls bother them, for some reason.”
With years and the death of a friend, plus the imprisonment of another, Tim (Julian Cihi) and Mabel have drifted apart. In fact, when the Arconia holds a building-wide memorial for him, it becomes clear that he hasn’t got a single friend in the city, and his neighbors are mostly interested in learning whether they can use their fireplaces again (his asthma prevented it) and who will buy his coveted square footage.
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Not only was Tim Kono unlikable, he was also broke and obsessed with finding missing jewelry from the night Zoe was murdered. Something about it haunted him, and he’d lived with a secret for years – either of his own involvement, or Oscar’s culpability – but he hadn’t lived well. A young man cut down in his prime should have elicited some sympathy, but the building’s occupants are much too self-involved.
Sting is the very first suspect. Yes, tantric rock star formerly of The Police Sting, who just happens to live in the building. Tim’s next-door neighbor felt entitled to his apartment, and Howard the cat guy held a grudge. Oscar was released from prison just in time to commit the murder, and Charles saw him enter the building in a tie-dyed hoodie as everyone else was evacuating. Has he blamed Tim for him imprisonment this whole time?
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Tim’s own research seems to point a finger at Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane), who just happens to be the proud podcast sponsor. His son Theo (James Caverly) may be deaf but doesn’t miss much. He’s been on the periphery since Mabel and her friends were kids. An episode almost entirely without dialogue shows just how much Theo sees, and casts some suspicion on the Dimas men, sponsorship or not.
Tina Fey plays podcaster Cinda Canning, a tribute to podcasting hero Sarah Koenig. In the basement, building manager Ursula (Vanessa Aspillag) pleasantly extorts Charles and Oliver for cases of Gut Milk, her latest side hustle/pyramid scheme, in exchange for building secrets. Jane Lynch plays Charles’ former stunt double, Sazz Pataki, in what can only be described as a deliciously toxic relationship. And the wonderful Da’Vine Joy Randolph appears as Detective Williams, the detective who originally closed the case on Kono’s “suicide” but secretly reopens it when her wife becomes a fan of the podcast.
Of course, one of the series’ greatest characters is New York City itself. The Arconia is populated with all kinds of crazy characters, and though they all seem to be spying on and complaining about each other all the time, none seem close, or even friendly. In fact, they mourn Howard’s recently deceased cat but not the young man who’d grown up among them. Yet the city embraces them all.
This show may have started as a mystery/true crime parody, but it achieves a beauty and appreciation all its own with great writing and a terrific ensemble.
However, the mystery remains: who killed Tim Kono? Suicide is the official ruling, and a strong possibility since he was chronically lonely. But he was also actively pursuing a decade-old case, the death of his friend and the guilt of another. Did someone silence him? His apartment contains loads of pilfered jewelry, sex toys that Oliver can’t even begin to identify, and bloody paw prints.
A SWAT team infiltrates the Arconia while residents evacuate. Oliver and Charles receive a mysterious text telling them to leave immediately, but they run to Mabel, bursting in to find her drenched in blood and hunched over a dead body sporting bloodied tie-dye. “It’s not what you think,” she insists.
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The deceased is Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell), the building’s ruthless board president who recently tried to have all three evicted. Charles, Oliver, and Mabel are arrested, and led out of the Arconia in handcuffs as many of the building’s occupants watch.
Gomez, Short, and Martin are all back for season two, though their characters may be behind bars, if the season one finale is to be believed. Michael Rapaport joins the cast as a detective on Bunny’s murder, as does Cara Delevingne who plays Alice, an art gallery owner and possible love interest to Mabel. Shirley MacLaine as Bunny’s icy mother and Amy Schumer as an unbearable version of herself are also set to guest star.
Tina Fey’s Cinda Canning is also back and eager to turn this development into her own podcast: Only Murderers In The Building. Season two promises to tie up loose ends and plot holes from the first season, but if it does its job well, it’s also likely to ask a lot more questions than it answers. As Charles puts it in the trailer, “This is going to be fine. Or, it could be really bad.” Season two premieres June 28 on Hulu in the US and on Disney Plus’s Starz in many other markets.
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Jay Carter Taylor (she/her) loves movies almost as much as she loves hating movies. She’s haunted film festivals including SXSW, Berlin, Tribeca, TIFF, Fantasia, Venice, and Sundance. She’s never missed a single MCU movie premiere or series even though Pixar and Wes Anderson are more her style. Jay supports female directors and JEDI allyship. She has 1 spouse, 3 sisters, 4 dogs, 9 niblings, and more statement jewelry than sense. She has recently started playing Fortnite with her 8 year old nephew.


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