Season 3 of 'Only Murders in the Building' Isn't Quite the Perfect Crime — but It's Still a Lot of Fun

Created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman

Starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez, Michael Cyril Creighton, Paul Rudd, Meryl Streep, Ashley Park, Jesse Williams

Photo: Patrick Harbron / Disney+

BY Kadija OsmanPublished Aug 8, 2023

With each new season, Only Murders in the Building lets us dive into the sleuthing trio's past. In Season 1, we learned all about Mabel's (Selena Gomez) rocky friendship with a murder victim. In Season 2, Charles (Steve Martin) made amends with his father with the help of his father's mistress. Now with Season 3, it's time for Oliver (Martin Short) to shine, as he finally gets back to his one true love: the theatre.

The final minutes of the second season left us with a sneak peek into this season's murder — big-shot actor Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd), who is the star in Oliver's new Broadway show, collapses in the middle of the stage on opening night, and that's exactly where the mystery unravels.

Oliver's play-turned-musical Death Rattle Dazzle takes centre stage, as someone in his cast is suspected to be Ben Glenroy's killer. Guest starring alongside Paul Rudd is Meryl Streep playing a mousy Loretta Durkin who finally gets her big break, Ashley Park as the TikTok star and theatrical ingénue Kimber, and Jesse Williams stepping in as Mabel's love interest.

Season 3 offers a few musical treats courtesy of Hairspray and Waitress composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, including a little show tune by Gomez, Martin and Ryan Brossard, and an aching song performed by Meryl Streep as she rehearses for her part as the nanny. It's delightful watching them having fun with and really leaning into the Broadway element of the season with the costumes and theatrics. It adds something to the show that viewers haven't seen before.

Mabel, Charles and Oliver's friendship through podcasting is the heart of the show, as it has been since the first season, but in Season 3, distractions big and small get in the way of that. Oliver's busy with a potential new lady and directing his big Broadway return, while Charles is anxious over his part in the play and his girlfriend Joy, who doesn't seem to be sparking any joy anymore. With Oliver and Charles otherwise occupied, Mabel is left collecting clues on her own.

The show has been alluding to this mini-separation for a while now, constantly poking fun at how little the trio have in common besides their passion for true crime; if that's no longer on the table, would their friendship still stand? It doesn't seem likely. Early in the season Mabel asks, "Who are we without a homicide?" Through the eight episodes made available to critics, it's clear that it's because of murder and their amateur detective work that they've been able to maintain such a tight bond.

Because they aren't unanimously on board with recording new podcast episodes and investigating Ben Glenroy's murder, the show feels scattered. Oliver doesn't want Mabel sniffing around and causing a problem that could potentially lead to the downfall of his show, and Charles seemingly has one foot out the door, which slightly takes away the enjoyable camaraderie of Only Murders.

Something the show never fails to do, though, is give space for its secondary characters to be seen, dedicating whole episodes to their stories — and with this season, it's no different. Snarky Arconia resident Uma (Jackie Hoffman) is finally given her own episode, and we learn all about her quirky habits.

While Only Murders doesn't stick to the formula it perfected over the previous seasons, its diversion is exactly what sets this season apart. For the majority of the season, we see what the trio are like outside of each other's company — but when they do pick up the podcast mics, it's as clever and funny as ever.

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