One of the most-talked-about TV shows on streaming this summer has to be the delightful Only Murders in the Building. This Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez vehicle is a wondrous and playful take on the genre. It perfectly encapsulates how you should be reinventing the ideas and capturing the zeitgeist.
The show is an American mystery-comedy series, created by Martin and John Hoffman. Martin, Short, and Gomez become friends after they figure out they share an obsession with a true-crime podcast.After there's a murder in their building, the three neighbors decide to start their own show that covers their investigation of the murder.
Today, I want to take a look at some of the elements I think make this such a strong television show, and a no-brainer for a streamer like Hulu to purchase and put to series.
Let's take a look at the trailer and talk after.
How 'Only Murders in the Building' Is Capitalizing on the Zeitgeist
Remember Serial? That viral podcast became a must-listen every week. After it, shows like My Favorite Murder and Parcast's Serial Killers show took up the mantle and became obsessions all over America (and the globe). Podcasts seemed to launch into the cultural collective from there. The one thing they had in common is that people young and old could find and fixate on any niche involved.
Murder podcasts were especially popular because people would spend all their time trying to figure out whodunit. Well, what about a TV show about someone putting together a murder podcast?
Choosing a topic that feels like it's ever-present in our society, and then lampooning it with a genre twist, is such a great recipe for success. It's a clever parody of the crime podcast and TV show that actually has a mystery that withstands scrutiny, and knows how to deliver cliffhangers at the end of each episode that leaves the audience wanting more.
Famed critic Alan Sepinwall said of the show, "The series soon turns out to be—like The Princess Bride, Galaxy Quest, or Jane the Virgin—that rare and wonderful thing: the parody that also offers a great example of the genuine article."
Another aspect of the show that goes relatively unnoticed, but should get more attention, is how cleverly they use cinematography. This is not noisily shot. Many shots are on sets and done in short, reverse shots. But the show never shies away from creative takes, edits, and angles when need be. There's also the repetitive use of red lights in danger and incredible set design. Each person's apartment feels very them and brings another layer to the character.
And speaking of the characters, this show is teeming with some of the best-developed characters on television. They're super unique and feel like they belong only to this show. Martin plays an aging TV star yearning to matter and find human connection. Short is a broadway director who hasn't had a hit, maybe ever, and is going bankrupt. Gomez is a rich kid lost in a world of tragedy.
They all live in the same apartment complex, and each has a particular set of hurdles that challenges them into arcing. These arcs inform the emotional things they have to deal with and also help the writers give them physical obstacles that can test them on it.
What are your thoughts on the series? Let us know in the comments.