Season 1 of Hulu’s Only Murders In the Building was a 2021 hit following the journey of the aforementioned crew as the grew from strangers and neighbors in glamorous New York apartment The Arconia to something of a chaotic family. After setting out to solve the murder of fellow Arconia resident Tim Kono by way of true crime podcast — and somehow succeeding in the matter — Charles, Oliver, and Mabel think all that’s left to do is pop some champagne and celebrate.
When a mysterious text urges them to get out of the building while they can, things take a turn for the worse — Charles and Oliver stumble into yet another murder scene, this time with Mabel, covered in blood, standing over the body of building board president Bunny (a wonderfully believable Jayne Houdyshell). The screen cut to black, and we were all left on a cliffhanger finale.
Season 2 picks up almost immediately where audiences left off in the fall, this time with everyone’s favorite true crime podcasters trying to clear their name, and doing so by solving another murder along the way.
Persons of Interest: The second installment of the mystery-comedy offers a fairly even balance between returning characters and new figures to worry about. In addition to our core three, Season 2 digs into Bunny’s final moments through flashback, sees the return of OMITB super fans like the always welcome Jaboukie Young-White, and offers a slightly expanded role for Michael Cyril Creighton as Howard, an over-involved but sweet Arconia resident.
In the realm of newcomers, the appearance of Lucy, Charles’ estranged, former and never officially adopted daughter, is a treat — some sharp writing pokes both at the quirks of Gen-Z (intentionally clashing clothing, “mental health TikTok,” baby witches trying to hex the moon) and the fact that while Charles and and Oliver might not have any earthly clue what she’s talking about, neither does the millennial Mabel. Season 2 is solid, but even if it weren’t so enjoyable, it would’ve been worth it alone to hear Martin Short say the words “hoe phase.”
Cara Delevigne plays a new figure who pulls their own weight in Season 2, materializing seemingly out of nowhere into Mabel’s life as Alice, a striking and sophisticated artist who, of course, might be hiding some secrets of her own. Delevigne and Gomez’s chemistry is instantly believable, perhaps due to an existing friendship in the real world, or maybe just Delevigne’s incredibly expressive eyebrows.
Amy Schumer also appears as a heightened version of her own public persona. Sadly absent (at least in the eight episodes granted to critics) is Aaron Dominguez, a Season 1 gem as the wrongly convicted Oscar.
Arconia ‘Til We Die: With the majority of the show still taking place in the grand Arconia, there are plenty of chances for new and exciting set pieces that expand beyond the familiar apartments. Season 2 digs into some of the secrets the building has kept until now — without spoiling, it might be best to say that this new installment offers the residents some new perspective.
Episode 5, where Martin Short in particular gets to have a ton of fun, creates space for an incredibly enjoyable sequence set in the 1970s which is then re-interpreted as a modern fantasy later. The creative decisions in costuming and set design throughout the season ensure that the Arconia never gets boring.
Kudos are also necessary for the casting directors — Samuel Farnsworth appears as Oliver in flashback, and his performance is so spot-on that if this were a different streaming service, it might’ve been easy to believe that footage from Short’s SNL days was used to digitally reconstruct him. Also Caroline Valencia, the actress who plays a young Mabel, might as well have been plucked from Selena Gomez’s time on Barney.
Framing Devices: For anyone who fell in love with Martin, Short, and Gomez’s collective chemistry, the best moments in Season 2 are, as expected, when the three get to riff off each other. Selena Gomez is so charming and sympathetic as Mabel, particularly here in Season 2 as her character has now been branded Bloody Mabel by the ruthless social media world.
The pacing in Season 1 may have been a bit stronger — Season 2 kicks off with a bang, then ebbs and flows through the remainder — but Only Murders In the Building remains supremely watchable and addictive overall. While nothing here tops of the magic of Season 1’s “The Boy From 6B,” an episode-free of dialogue to take viewers into the perspective of Theo, who is deaf, Episode 7 of this second installment could be considered the standout — when a blackout hits the tri-state area suddenly, the tension increases ten-fold.
The Verdict: Thank goodness the doors to The Arconia have opened once more, welcoming back us friends of the pod with open arms. Many of the things that were so lovable about Season 1 are intact, while individual character arcs ensure that nothing feels too formulaic. The second season might not be quite as tightly wound as the first, but the twisty mystery is by no means an easy solve.
All in all, Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez are having such a good time — and so generously letting us join for the ride — that we should probably just let them keep making Only Murders In the Building for as long as they’d like.
Where to Watch: The first two episodes of Season 2 premiere Tuesday, June 28th. New episodes stream Tuesdays.