5 movies and TV shows like Only Murders in the Building

Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building returns for season 2, featuring one of TV’s most unlikely detective team-ups. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez play Charles, Oliver, and Mabel, the residents of a ritzy Manhattan apartment house who attempt to solve a murder in the building while chronicling their adventures in a podcast.

One of the reasons why Only Murders became such an instant hit was because it was the perfect pandemic entertainment. Yes, society was technically opening up in June 2021 when the show debuted, but the pandemic mind set remained. Not only did people want comfort food served up by reliable entertainers (in addition to the three leads, the first season also features Sting, Nathan Lane, and Tina Fey), our fantasies leaned toward safe, open spaces like those of the show: palatial apartments, airy courtyards, roomy elevators and corridors, all sparsely populated and within a few minutes of reliable deli delivery — a dream compared to what most of us lived through. Below are five tales of amateur sleuthing that provide some of the same comforting escape.

Knives Out (2019)

lakeith stanfield, noah segan, and daniel craig in rian johnson's whodunit 'knives out.'
Lionsgate

Like Only MurdersRian Johnson’s Knives Out was one of the more surprising successes of recent years, doing more than $300 million at the global box office on a $40 million dollar budget. Also like Only Murders, the movie is an old fashioned mystery/comedy featuring aging stars (including Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, and Jamie Lee Curtis). Craig plays the gentleman detective with the Blanche DuBois accent called to a country house to unravel the events surrounding the death of a patriarch (Plummer), over whose publishing empire his children and grandchildren are now squabbling.

Like Kenneth Branagh’s recent and similarly star-laden adaptations of Agatha Christie mysteries, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, Knives Out is lushly photographed with a distinct sense of place. The old house, its eaves dripping with rain, dogs darting across misty moors, exudes atmosphere. But Knives Out is a funnier, sharper, more thoughtful movie than Branagh’s cursory efforts — hardly surprising coming from Johnson, who made the most thoughtful recent Star Wars film, The Last Jedi — and has more in common with the contemporary and satirical Only Murders in the Building.

You can rent Knives Out from multiple digital platforms.

Search Party (2016-2022)

alia shawkat in search party
HBO Max

A scathing satire of the young and vapid, Search Party stars the indispensable Alia Shawkat (Maeby Fünke in Arrested Development) as Dory Sief, a millennial New Yorker who enlists the help of three close friends to search for a missing woman she knew from college. As with Only Murders in the Buildinghijinks ensue as they become involved in a series of incidents that escalate in both severity and hilarity.

The show’s comedy stems mostly from the fact that Dory and her crew (John Reynolds, John Early, and Meredith Hagner) are passive-aggressive narcissists — hardly the kind of friends you want to cover your back if you’ve committed crimes toget