Issue 18

Only Murders In The Building : A Must Watch For Every Hardy Boys Fan Out There

Shree Bhattacharyya

Those are our proverbial onions, raw and peeled. And yours? Care to peel for us?

Only Murders in the Building, created by Steve Martin & John Hoffman, is for the Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie and true-crime enthusiasts among us. When a murder takes place in the building of the Arconia in New York, three neighbours find each other through their love for true-crime podcasts and vow to find the killer. Relying on their vast knowledge of true crime (derived from their hours of listening to podcasts), the three embark on a journey that is shrouded in intrigue, clues, red herrings and plot twists. Along with the classic case of ‘Whodunit?’, the series has perfectly placed and intimately nuanced comedic dialogue and witty quips — strengthened by the chemistry of the three main characters. 

The three neighbours, Charles Haden-Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), differ not only in terms of their personality but also age. Charles and Oliver are in their 70s, whereas Mabel is in her 20s. Though the generational gap jokes are plenty (Charles debates on whether to sign off on a text with Warm Regards — a wonderfully polite way of greeting that maybe we could all benefit from), what makes this show unique is its approach to age and the way they embrace it. The three find solace in each other, and realise that their past – regardless of how many years lived – bring them closer together. They are lonely and are all dealing with instances in their life that they have not confronted. The show also breaks the bounds of temporality. Our three crime fanatics are digging around the victim’s past so that they can solve the mystery, however, they are also trying to move forward in their own lives — and break their own monotony. Where there is death, perhaps there is also the birth of a new life for one who is frozen in time. 

The three characters evolve and change over the ten episodes, and each scene gives you an insight into their lives while making you desperately crave for more. The show may first seem like a parody of the age of bingeing, true crime stories, and podcasts – and it occasionally is- but it also serves as a celebration of fan culture and obsessive consumption of entertainment — and mysteries. 

As Oliver asks Mabel,Those are our proverbial onions, raw and peeled. And yours? Care to peel for us?” — Only Murders in the Building peels each layer of the mystery and the subtleties of human emotion and delivers it in a perfect blend of excitement and humour. 

Image credits: The Print

Shree Bhattacharyya is a student of English literature and Media Studies at Ashoka University.

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