“Second seasons are tough, you know?” quips Oliver Putnam, played by Martin Short, during the season two premiere episode of Hulu’s whodunit comedy series Only Murders in the Building. In the sophomore season of the farcical series, also starring Steve Martin and Selena Gomez as a trio of amateur podcast sleuths in an Upper West Side apartment building, the self-aware, meta humor has clearly not gone anywhere.
Now a bona fide breakout hit, the show has no choice but to acknowledge the risk of a sophomore slump, as Martin explained on the red carpet for the season premiere event in Los Angeles on Monday night. “For season two, we brought in a lot of personal experiences and referenced our own challenges to what really was happening to us and what was happening to the show in real life,” the star said on the red carpet. “It was only natural to make jokes about it. There’s now a level of awareness from other people, and we made sure to parody it and how second seasons can often disappoint.”
For Gomez, the show has been a success but also a learning experience, working alongside veteran comedians Martin and Short. “What I’ve learned is to be more snarky with my jokes,” she said, flanked between her two co-stars on the red carpet. “I think I have a little more bite now. I will make a small dig, and Marty will look at me, and say, ‘I showed her that. I taught her well.’”
“She’s right,” Short responded. “I’m responsible. I’ve taught her everything.”
Martin, however, begged to differ: “Marty isn’t that funny.”
“I’m always hoping that I can keep up with them,” added Gomez. “The goal is to always just try to make a joke, and I do ask if they think something is funny, and if they don’t, they are honest with me. It’s actually really nice. I do feel like I get to learn a lot.”
“I must say she’s a quick learner,” Short chimed in. “And she’s such a great actress because she pretended to know who we were when we first started working, but really she had to Google me to find out.”
The latest installment of Only Murders in the Building, streaming June 28 on Hulu, immediately picks back up with the mystery established in the final moments of the first season, when Oliver, Charles, and Mabel framed for the murder of cranky co-op board president Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell). They are now the subjects of a competing podcast, and they have to deal with their New York neighbors who all think they committed murder.
“The stakes are higher in season two. There is more ratcheted-up tension and problems with twists and turns that will grab you along for a rollicking ride,” teased showrunner John Hoffman, who also co-created the series with Martin. “But, at the center of season two, is to remind people we are called upon to step up a little bit because the world is changing so much. People who would rather stay low key and away from things are coming out of their own isolated worlds working for justice or some redemption for a neighbor and that’s inspiring. We need this more than ever.”
As the mystery unfolds, a new crop of characters are introduced. Amy Schumer plays an unhinged version of herself. Shirley MacLaine pops up as Bunny Folger’s frank mother, Leonora, and Cara Delevingne portrays a local art gallery owner who becomes Mabel’s new love interest. So which one might be the real murderer? “Be suspicious of everyone,” warns Martin. “Every time a new character is introduced, we’re very suspicious of that character.”
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