The Unicorn Scale: Only Murders in the Building

By Talia Squires

September 07, 2022



Photo credit: Image/Hulu

Only Murders in the Building wrapped season two with yet another cliffhanger and I can’t wait for more. As much as I enjoyed season one, season two topped it for me. There was more Tina Fey as Cinda Canning, a more delightfully absurd story, and of course, we found out that a main character is bi!

Only Murders in the Building follows three hilariously mismatched aspiring podcasters. Has-been TV actor Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), failed Broadway producer Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and aspiring young artist Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez). They all live in the Arconia, a glamorous old apartment building in New York. When a fellow resident is murdered this odd couple (odd throuple?) get together to solve the crime and make a podcast about it.

From here on out there will be big SPOILERS for season one and some from season two, but don’t worry I won’t reveal the murderer. And if you're unfamiliar with how the Unicorn Scale works, be sure to check out the original article

Season one ended with the three podcasters celebrating their victorious solving of the case. Mabel has been reunited with her childhood friend Oscar and they are starting a romantic relationship. It seems like a perfectly happy ending, but not for long. Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell) stumbles into Mabel’s apartment stabbed by Mabel’s knitting needle. Mabel is found over Bunny’s dead body covered in blood and our intrepid trio is walked out of the building in handcuffs, setting us up for the fantastic second season.

Mabel, Charles, and Oliver with shocked expressions looking at someone out of frame.

Season two has our amateur sleuths working to solve Bunny’s murder and clear their names while big-time podcaster Cinda Canning has her own podcast, “Only Murderers in the Building”, trying to prove their guilt.

What I Liked:

Cara Delevigne!

Season two opens with Mabel telling Charles and Oliver that her relationship with Oscar had ended, she told them "The trauma bond is strong but I think Oscar and I are just both waiting for the ‘Let’s just be friends’ text."

Mabel and Alice confronting one another.

I was momentarily sad, but then I was thrilled to see this open up new opportunities for Mabel, like when Mabel meets artist and gallery owner Alice (played by bicon Cara Delevigne). Alice is a self-made woman who has traded in on her cool girl vibe and posh British accent to become a successful figure on the New York art scene. After displaying Mabel’s art, Alice makes a statue inspired by Mabel and invites Mabel to smash the statue. For Mabel, who is quickly crumbling under the stress of being an accused murderer, destroying the statue is a cathartic moment and it’s nice for the viewers to see her let go of her emotions for a moment. After allowing herself to be emotionally free, it seems like that energy carries over, and Mabel shares a passionate kiss with Alice.

A romance quickly begins to develop, and it seems like Mabel is going to be coupled up for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, in a surreal moment, Alice betrays Mabel’s trust when she restages the murder of Bunny for a photography project. Mabel sees the reenacted murder and is understandably horrified. She accuses Alice of only pursuing her because of her connection to the sensational murder and ends their budding relationship.

It seems like that’s the end of Alice, but she does eventually bring a peace offering, a clue that brings Mabel one step closer to solving the murder and she gets to help unmask the true killer.

Although the romantic relationship between the two quickly flounders, it clearly established Mabel’s bisexuality. Mabel seems pretty comfortable with dating women and so it seems likely that this is not her first time. She is happily bi and it just isn’t a big deal.

Charles and Oliver definitely give each other a look when they first learn about Alice, but quickly adapt to the new normal. In fact, barely anyone even bats an eye. Mabel was dating dudes, now she’s dating a lady, and it’s no big deal.

I enjoyed the entire approach to romance in this show, even when it went beyond the main characters. Romance isn’t just reserved for young, beautiful, straight people. Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton), the cat-lover, who mostly seems to exist to be the butt of everyone's jokes actually gets a really sweet romance with his Broadway performer neighbor, Jonathan (Jason Veasey), who is allergic to cats. Together they inspire the neighborhood by singing/yodeling “Sound of Silence” in the middle of a blackout. It’s as bizarre and wonderful as it sounds.

Only Murders in the Building also really emphasizes found family in a way that I imagine resonates with a lot of queer viewers. It certainly resonated with me. Whether it’s Charles restoring his relationship with his ex-stepdaughter, or Oliver reassuring his son that being a father goes far beyond genetics, or the deep friendship of the three main characters, it’s always made clear that family is what we make it and that it’s never too late to find your family.

What I Didn’t Like:

Honestly, I loved this season and I think for the most part they did a great job with Mabel and Alice’s relationship. My biggest complaint about Mabel’s love life is how Oscar just sort of disappeared. He was in nearly every episode of season one and then we never saw him again. It isn’t even completely clear that they had broken up at the beginning of season two.

I’m sure a person could complain about Alice being queer and shifty and untrustworthy. It’s unclear what her orientation is, but she does kind of feed into the bi trope of being a born liar. She lies about her upbringing, lies to Mabel about her art, and just generally feels too charming to be real. However, I feel like the show really ends up turning all those tropes on their head when she gets to use her dramatic flair and acting prowess to trap the real killer into confessing.

Mabel, Charles, and Oliver showing evidence through a phone with concerned and annoyed expressions.

The Rating:

Give me season three! I’d love to see a return of Alice, but am not holding my breath. Although Mabel is clearly bi, it’s wonderful to have so little to say about it in the context of the show. She casually dates a woman briefly and no one really cares, nor do they demand an explanation. It was just one more great beat in a great show.

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