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We need to talk about Lucy.
The almost stepdaughter of Charles, Lucy has injected delight and energy into the already energetic and delightful “Only Murders in the Building.” As the Hulu show prepares to end its blockbuster sophomore season, and to finally reveal its second killer, Lucy dazzles and surprises with her speeches, discoveries — and dress. More than just a fashion icon (although she certainly is that too): she’s the third generation in the already loving intergenerational friendship of Steve Martin’s Charles, Oliver (Martin Short) and Mabel (Selena Gomez).
Teenager Lucy is Gen Z and she lets you know. Her phone is ever-present and she primarily communicates that way with Charles, the man who dated her mom for many years and basically became a father to her before her mom severed the relationship. Hyper-connected, Lucy uses text abbreviations and slang that confuses him — but both Charles and Oliver are new to texting; it took Charles quite some time to learn not to sign his texts. Lucy uploads to something called “The Dazed 100” and has TikTok. She references watching mental health TikToks to Mabel, and it’s not clear yet that Lucy has her own channel, but given that she’s talking into her phone’s camera in her entrance in the show, it’s very possible.
Possibly Lucy can do all that rebounding because she’s often wearing comfy pants.
As played by Zoe Margaret Colletti from “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and 2014’s “Annie,” Lucy is earnest and open. Colletti’s likability buoys her character’s great resilience. Lucy missed Charles during all these years of silence, not understanding her mother did not want the two to communicate. But Lucy is quick to bounce back and jump right back into his life.
Possibly Lucy can do all that rebounding because she’s often wearing comfy pants. It’s not just that the character looks cool, she seems relaxed in loose, soft fabrics. She hops onto counters and crosses her legs. In trendy but sensible shoes, she can move quickly when being pursued by potential murderers. Her wide-legged trousers are striped or checkered with a print of yin and yang symbols. I’m envious of Lucy’s pants (So is Mabel, telling her upon first meeting: “I love those pants. I had a pair.”). Even when Lucy’s wearing a formal gown —or specifically, a frilly tulle bridesmaid dress for her mother’s wedding — the character stays causal with sneakers on the bottom.
Lucy (Zoe Margaret Colletti) in “Only Murders In The Building” (Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)Lucy also has a flair for the unexpected. It shows up in how she drops by Charles’ apartment unannounced. And how she sneaks into secret passageways if she finds no one at home . . . or the wrong people breaking into the home. Fashion-wise, it manifests in her creative pairing of colors and prints. She matches rainbow stripes with checks or chevrons. She matches things that don’t classically, actually match. But on Lucy, they work.
She wears bright shades, even in the cool, black-heavy Upper East Side. During my time living in Manhattan, I would carry a bright red umbrella just so I would stand out. Lucy mixes things up. You never know where you can find her, what she’ll say or discover next (Lucy is the one who finds the murder weapon after all), or what she’ll show up wearing.
Marv (Daniel Oreskes), Lucy (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short) and Mabel (Selena Gomez) in “Only Murders In The Building” (Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)In her clothes and personality, Lucy is unselfconscious. “I don’t care. I’m just gonna leave it,” she says in some of her first lines on the show, examining the large, fuzzy flowered hat on her head. “Nope,” she declares, then rips it off. She’s filming at the time. Within moments of first meeting Mabel, she’s talking about anti-anxiety meds and bemoaning her own lack of a “real diagnosis.”
She’s also non-judgmental. Some teenagers might never forgive Charles for seemingly abandoning them, but Lucy understands once he explains and is right back to being close with him, trying to make up for lost time. She’s supportive, calling him: “my super cool TV star ex-dad sort of person.” When she pulls a gory blood-stained knife out of a butcher block — what turns out to be the murder weapon — her first response is the relatively tame: “Do you not wash these?”
Lucy (Zoe Margaret Colletti) in “Only Murders In The Building” (Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)
Mabel is the character with whom Lucy is closest in age, yet a generational gulf separates even them.
Lucy is open-minded. When she jokes to Mabel that Charles and Oliver going off to have a private “adult conversation” sounds “queer-coded,” there’s nothing accusatory in her statement, simply curious and friendly. She also talks with Mabel about changing her pronouns.
Mabel is the character with whom Lucy is closest in age, yet a generational gulf separates even them. Mabel is a Millennial, and as such, still distinct from Lucy, who talks circles around her and talks in a different way (the teenager also listens to their podcast at double speed). Though Charles tries to link the two of them – “She used the word ‘Manhatty.’ And you just used ‘hot goss.’ It’s like I’m watching ‘Squid Games’ [sic] without subtitles.”— Lucy is her own person, something Mabel makes clear.
We see Mabel differently next to Lucy. We notice a new, nurturing side of her, as Mabel feels protective of the teen. The two elder men have always referred to Mabel as young and hip with “cool boots,” but Lucy is younger still. And though Charles and Oliver may have thought of Mabel as a child, the arrival of Lucy makes clear that Mabel is an adult person, capable of taking care of herself, making decisions and her own way. Lucy helps Mabel grow up.
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Each character of “Only Murders” has had a distinct style from the very beginning. Oliver has his long scarves and turtlenecks, Charles his sweaters and button-down shirts. Mabel has been the strongest style icon to emerge from the show, striding onscreen with her bright orange faux fur coat, canary yellow sweater, checked pants, red headphones and those cool boots. And yes, she makes an excellent Halloween costume that, speaking from personal experience, not all of your friends will understand.
But Lucy is the newest style icon on the show. Unexpected, bold and curious, she makes us look at outfits differently. She helps us look at everything on “Only Murders” differently, including helping us to know Charles, Oliver and even Mabel better. Now we’ve seen them through her flower print, fuzzy hat-shielded eyes.
The “Only Murders in the Building” Season 2 finale streams Tuesday, Aug. 23 on Hulu.
about “Only Murders in the Building”
Alison Stine is a staff writer at Salon. She is the author of the novels “Trashlands” and “Road Out of Winter,” winner of the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and others.
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More than a fashion icon, Lucy brings Gen Z to "Only Murders in the Building" – Salon
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