Entertainment

Hulu's 'Only Murders in the Building' Is an Adorably Weird Upper West Side Caper

Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez make this mystery work surprisingly well.

Hulu
Hulu
Hulu

The awkwardness of the title of Hulu’s new comedy Only Murders in the Building is fitting. The show, which debuts its first two episodes today, is delightfully askew. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

Take the cast: There’s Steve Martin, one of the co-creators along with John Hoffman, and Martin Short, two comedy legends known for their collaboration which range from The Three Amigos to Father of the Bride. Then there’s Selena Gomez, the Disney star turned pop star, whose film career has been more interesting than most people would care to admit. (And who has a great cooking show on HBO Max, but that’s neither here nor there.) They are an intentionally odd threesome, but this is an intentionally odd story.

On one hand, it’s the type of zany fare one would expect from Martin and Short. On the other, it’s a murder mystery about class conflict in New York City’s Upper West Side. Outside of the three leads, it’s packed with well-known to theatergoers but not super famous character actors, along with some jaw-dropping celebrity cameos. It’s an oversized lumpy sweater of a series, cozy, occasionally itchy, but something you won’t want to give up anytime soon.

Martin is Charles, a grumpy actor who was once the star of a Columbo-type TV show known as “Brazos.” Short is Oliver, something of a Max Bialystock, a theater producer with a number of failed productions under his belt. And then there’s Gomez, the millennial who doesn’t quite fit in with the Upper West Side crowd. Her mystery-why she’s living in an un-renovated apartment that seems way beyond her income bracket-is just as key to the narrative as who died.

Hulu
Hulu
Hulu

Speaking of that: Charles, Oliver, and Mabel unite one evening when an alarm goes off in The Arconia, their shared building. They all file into a crowded nearby restaurant to take shelter, and realize they have something in common other than simply address. They are all fans of a certain true-crime podcast, hosted by a Sarah Koenig-type played by Tina Fey. This proves useful when it turns out that that very night a murder takes place right where they live. While the death of Tim Kono, a surly finance bro who no one likes, is immediately ruled a suicide, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel think something fishy is afoot.

The clunky syntax of the title is a joke in itself: The podcast this threesome forms is titled Only Murders in the Building, because they only cover murders that happen in their building. Oliver sees the podcast as his way back in the entertainment industry; for Charles, it satisfies his actor’s ego; Mabel, however, has entirely different motives, but also finds a strange kinship with these old guys.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to unpack the appeal of Gomez, who is not a traditionally “good” actress. Her line delivery is often flat and she can seem practically uncomfortable on screen. And yet she’s a fascinating person to watch, and all of her tics work well in the context of Mabel, who has a lot to hide, but is ultimately sweet. You understand why these two lonely men would be drawn to her companionship, and her sardonic tone complements the two veterans’ more exuberant take on the material. Martin and Short are, of course, great. Oliver is the ultimate Short role, a goofy, passionate man who is consistently in way over his head. Martin’s Charles is a sourpuss, but he relishes the chances to slip back into his old cheesy ways as Brazos.

What keeps you hooked on Only Murders in the Building is that it works as well as a mystery as it does a comedy. Maybe it won’t inspire the same theorizing as, say, a Mare of Easttown, but as each episode draws to a close, you’ll want to know more and you’ll want to spend more time with these curious weirdos. Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is why this is so darn enjoyable.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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