2021, TV

Only Murders in the Building (2021)

This is an inventive and consistently funny mystery comedy that pokes fun at our obsession with true crime podcasts. As Jenn said, it fees kind of miraculous, a show like this with a central relationship that is basically grandchild-grandparents, rather than a friendship, a romantic relationship or even a parent-child dynamic. It feels like a fresh dynamic which helps everything else work better.

The show is about three obsessive podcast fans who become convinced a suicide in their building was actually a murder. The podcast fandom is mined for all its worth, and podcast creation is to. Some of these podcast jokes are a little old but given that nobody else has made them in this medium, as far as I know, that isn’t really a big deal.

The episodes are consistently funny, even though they do get serious periodically. The show does a pretty good job of balancing those serious stretches with enough humour that you don’t mind that it isn’t just a laugh-a-minute. These more serious sections also add depth. And one thing you can say for this show is, despite the fact that this is a mystery, and despite the mania of the main characters, all the characters feel like real people.

The show also goes out of its way to portray a broader New York than is often included on TV. Though this could easily have felt like a gimmick it actually works really well. The different lives of the different characters are used as storytelling devices. It’s rather impressive that a show that features a prominent role for a deaf character, a prominent role for a lesbian cop (which is a bit of a cliche, sure), an interracial relationship that just sits there and is never once remarked upon, a wheelchair-bound character and other under-represented people from urban American life who I’ve missed, makes all of this just seem normal. You can’t help wonder why it took so long to make a genre series like this, where a whole bunch of disparate people are just in the story, as characters rather than not present at all, or as some kind of social comment, or mere window dressing. It adds to the success of the show and even gives it more life and variety.

Anyway, the whole thing is quite entertaining but also kind of impressive. It feels really considered and really thought-out while also being entertaining both as a comedy and as a mystery. Sure, the plot might break down a little bit, but that is sort of excused by the podcast jokes.

8/10

I don’t really know how much I want to watch next season, as this was pretty good and a lot of its freshness will no longer feel fresh. But I’ll probably be persuaded.

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