Only Murders in the Building became a phenomenon after debuting on Hulu in 2021 thanks to its superb cast and smart, comedic take on the murder mystery genre. Season 3 of the show brings audiences another unpredictable, hilarious murder mystery, with some new additions to the cast that are absolutely delightful.
Picking up where the last season left off, season three follows Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short), and Mabel (Selena Gomez) as they find themselves wrapped up in another murder mystery when the star of Oliver’s play mysteriously dies on stage. Apart from the contrivance of our characters yet again getting involved in a murder — which may not be a contrivance, as season two explained its convenience away pretty well — what we have is another great murder mystery.
Season 3 of Only Murders in the Building is hilarious and twisty as ever
For those wondering if the show is still able to keep things fresh after two seasons, the answer is a resounding yes. This mystery has plenty of unique beats that set it apart from the other two our trio has solved. For better or worse, the creators are able to swing bigger this time around. Of course, the cast is even more massive, the stylistic flair is more exaggerated, and there are even more layers to unfold.
After a first episode that is filled with unexpected twists and turns, the next few episodes get the season off to a bit of a slow start. There are a few episodes that feel like they are headed nowhere as the trio investigates suspects that clearly aren’t the perpetrator of the murder. However, as the season begins to reveal its hand, it draws you in brilliantly.
In what is one of the most surprising developments of this season, the show is less focused on the dynamic between Martin, Short, and Gomez, with an increased focus on the supporting characters. But if you’re gonna have Meryl Streep in your cast, you damn well better use her, and that they do.
Streep is one of the most celebrated and accomplished actresses in history, so the fact that she took a role in a comedy series like Only Murders in the Building should really say something. And Streep is truly brilliant here, nailing the humorous aspects of the role while still managing to be wholly effective on an emotional level. The other major addition this season is Paul Rudd — teased in last season’s finale — and he is extraordinarily funny in the role.
That’s not to say that Martin, Short, and Gomez don’t do a great job — they absolutely do — but when you add even more master performers to the mix, they have to cede their spotlight a little bit. Gomez, in particular, feels underused, as her arc feels disappointingly like a rehash of what she went through last season.
From a technical level, no episode has ever lived up to the brilliance that was “The Boy From 6B,” but there are some stylistic choices here that really shine. For example, the season’s setting in the musical theater scene gives the show the opportunity to incorporate a few musical numbers, and they’re pretty great.
With its third season, Only Murders in the Building remains an undeniably fun entry in the murdery mystery genre. Even as the novelty of the concept is beginning to wear off, the show’s creators are still finding ways to mix up the formula and subvert viewers’ expectations, and really, that’s all we can ask for.
Only Murders in the Building streams on Hulu beginning August 8. Eight out of ten episodes reviewed.