In the early planning days for Season 3 of “Only Murders in the Building,” showrunner John Hoffman and the rest of the writing team knew the Hulu comedy’s central trio would have to butt heads.
At the end of Tuesday’s episode, Oliver (Martin Short) wipes away the ‘f—ing pig’ message left on Ben Glenroy’s (Paul Rudd) mirror in an effort to protect Loretta (Meryl Streep). He immediately gets into a heated argument with Mabel (Selena Gomez) and Charles (Steve Martin) over his decision. The conversation, which reveals Charles punched Ben on the night of the murder and Mabel was being courted by Cinda Canning (Tina Fey), ends with Charles quitting “Death Rattle Dazzle” and Mabel leaving to investigate Ben’s death on her own.
Hoffman said that the fight was a “big moment” and a “very crux point” for the trio that audiences hadn’t seen before.
“It’s very clear Mabel is a bit off on her own, and now they’re doubling down on the play and Charles is caught in the middle a little bit. But the ways in which they could be very frustrating to her felt heartbreaking to write,” Hoffman told TheWrap in an interview conducted in accordance with WGA guidelines and facilitated through his personal publicist. “Carla Madeline George was tasked with that big fight and she just wrote the hell out of it. It sparks funnily in all the right ways and it kills me… I just felt like I hadn’t seen any of them in that way. You really feel the pain of it.”
He emphasized that seeing Mabel, Charles and Oliver in such distress together was an opportunity to show the audience how much they’ve grown to love the characters.
“That was an opportunity that felt like we had to earn it. But it felt right for the story that we were telling this season particularly and also as a test for the friendship,” he added. “I think the most unexpected friendships go through testing like that… so it felt like a good moment for all of them to check themselves.”
He noted that at the end of the argument, the onus is on Charles and Oliver to make things right with Mabel.
“They have to come back around and they know it,” he said.
“Only Murders in the Building” is co-created and written by Hoffman and Martin. The pair executive produces alongside Martin Short, Selena Gomez, “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman and Jess Rosenthal. The series is produced by 20th Television, a part of Disney Television Studios.
In addition to Streep, Rudd, Gomez, Martin and Short, Season 3’s cast includes Ashley Park and Jessie Williams.
New episodes stream Tuesdays on Hulu.
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