After starring as Alex Russo in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Palace from 2007 to 2012, Selena Gomez has made her comeback into the world of fictional tv series with the recently released Hulu show, Only Murders in the Building. While the combined talent of Steve Martin and Martin Short, who have already proven their comedic chops for years now, was expected to drip excellence through their respective characters in the show, it is Selena Gomez’s charmingly eccentric Mabel that surprises the most.
As the name of the Hulu series itself suggests, Only Murders In The Building has begun with its focus on only homicides (and other “crimes”) that take place in the elite residential building known as the Arconia. But despite sharing common walls that are so thin that one can literally hear their neighbors on the phone and going about their daily routine, people in Arconia prefer to keep to themselves, something which becomes painfully obvious when Short’s Oliver Putnam, Martin’s Charles Haden Savage, and Gomez’s Mabel end up on the elevator one day. While Oliver, being his usual chatty self, is itching to strike a conversation, both Charles and Mabel are less than keen to engage him.
Oh, of course, let’s introduce our three main characters here who are the delicious icing on the perfect dessert Only Murders In The Building is. Oliver Putnam is a failed theater producer who has had way too many flops to even have the smidge of hope of reviving his career anytime soon. He is drowning in late bills and building maintenance charges that have been due for months. But despite it all, he is unwilling to relinquish his hold over his lavish lifestyle and has not given up on his dreams of making it big one day. On the other hand, we have Charles Haden Savage, who enjoyed some temporary fame years ago when he played a detective known as Brazzos in a crime-thriller series. But that’s a topic of the past as both his short-lived fame and his desire to face the camera again are pretty much gone and he is almost content living off the royalty checks from the series. We said “almost” because just like Oliver’s, Charles’ life is missing that necessary spark that makes living more than merely surviving from one day to another.
Selena Gomez’s Mabel in Only Murders in the Building is a mystery in herself- she prefers to keep to herself, has no time for niceties, but seems to be super aware of whatever is going on. The apartment she lives in is not hers- she is renovating it for an aunt but at no point do we see her doing any kind of repair or interior designing work. What makes it even harder to believe her is the prickly nest of her own secrets and lies that Mabel is hiding and given her chequered past, you will find it hard to digest anything that comes out of her mouth.
The only thing that trumps the mysterious aura around Mabel is the gory suicide (murder?) in The Arconia. A rude neighbor the trio bumped into earlier in the day, presumably commits suicide, and as a result of which the building is evacuated to conduct a thorough search. Wondering how a single murder would bring together three unlikely characters? Well, despite their differences, they share a common love- a popular true-crime podcast. And when the murder occurs, their shared love for solving crimes pushes the trio together as they butt heads trying to solve what they think is murder even as the mystery gets more and more complicated while the plot thickens.
As mentioned above, Selena Gomez manages to match, compliment, and even outgun the matched finesses of Martin Short and Steve Martin on several occasions, displaying her unique brand of acting skills we barely got to glimpse in Selena + Chef. Another plus point of Only Murders In The Building is that it’s just a dramatical investigation of a crime, it’s not just a bare case, not just details about a mystery. We get to know our characters, their pasts, their quirks, their secrets, and how alone they are no matter how put together they portray themselves to be, in big juicy servings that only add to the uniqueness of the series.