Early in Season 2 of Only Murders In The Building, a character describes the in-show podcast of the Hulu series as “cozy,” an adjective that clearly works well for the hit comedy.
The mellow energy of Selena Gomez’s Mabel paired with Martin Short’s hyper theater director Oliver, and Steve Martin’s passé “Brazzos” actor Charles, completes the unexpected true-crime trio, earning fans across generations—including Meryl Streep—that continued to deliver those cozy vibes in Season 2.
If you recall, Season 1 actually opened and ended with Season 2’s mystery: Charles and Oliver race downstairs to find Mabel, kneeling over a figure in a tie-dye sweater. The end of the first season reveals this person to be Bunny Folger (Tony Award-winning Jayne Houdyshell). This full-circle level of planning in the writing signals another finely tuned mystery, one that draws new and old players from across the board. From the opening credits accompanied by the first ‘plink’ of the whimsical theme, the snug aura of Only Murders flourishes when it fully dives into its provincial slice of New York occupied by dubious gallery managers and exasperated detectives.
The second season of the fictitious podcast within the show also served as an entry point for meta-commentary to seep into the dialogue, hinting that the writers may have caught the prior season’s social media takes. Replacing Sting, Amy Schumer plays a similar version of overconfident and zany as her stand-up persona.
In addition, Cara Delevingne, whose fledgling acting career has become a bit of a punchline at this point, deserves a fresh look at her performance. What can she do with more palatable material than Paper Towns and Valerian? Well, that being said, certain chops are required to stand out between the leads and a slew of talented guest stars. Her role rests on whether the individual viewer can separate her character Alice from her Cara Delevinge-ness. Regardless, Only Murders is a show that allows the actors to have a lot of fun while the plot smoothly moves behind the performances.
Building off the unlikely friendship between three leads provides more intergenerational humor as well as excitable gags and resumed Broadway jokes that allow Short, in particular, to shine. Mabel’s trauma from Season 1 and a deeper look at her childhood backstory creates welcoming turning points while the building of the series’ title, The Arconia, remains a valuable character with its own backstory unexpectedly and pleasantly expanded.
Besides Schumer and Delevingne, the ensemble includes Michael Rapaport, Mark Consuelos, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Season 1 players such as the hardcore fan group and the Dimases also make significant appearances that tease out the whodunit.
Only Murders offers something more heartfelt than your regular slate of true crime-inspired streamers (and podcasts!), dipping into family drama back to crime mystery with that warm touch of magical realism. While Gomez, Short, and Martin are huge stars in their own right with packed resumes, the trio has not done scripted television as often as it may seem. And the second season of Only Murders in the Building should be duly appreciated for bringing back the all-stars to the small screen. Thankfully, Gomez offers an easy avatar for every young person that wants two new best friends in the form of Steve Martin and Martin Short.
The series returns on June 28th with two episodes. New episodes stream Tuesdays.