Only Squid Games In The Building

November 6th, 2021

One’s delightful; one’s disgusting

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez star in Only Murders In The Building.

During these fraught times we’re currently enduring, sometimes you just need a little pure escapism. One of my favorite ways to switch off the world is to switch on my streaming services and hide away in a fictional construct of other people’s imagination, dining on pizza, pretzels, pistachios and avoiding politics.

I’ve found a ton of great programming over the pandemic and this fall, there are a couple shows that really stand out, one for how good it is and the other, well …

I’m a fan of one and completely despise the other.

I’m not usually one who looks for a good escapist show about murder. Golly, far from it! But I’d been hearing, seeing and reading about two shows featuring “interesting” murder premises, so I took a gander.

You’ve likely heard reference to Squid Game, the South Korean series with a brutal premise. People are so far in debt that they risk EVERYTHING to participate in a bunch of children’s games. If you win, you receive millions of dollars. You lose/you die. Think of it sort of like The Hunger Games meets the last moments of Parasite, another South Korean entertainment offering from a few years ago.

Squid Game is the South Korean megahit on Netflix.

Squid Game shows up everywhere in popular culture these days, from NPR to SNL. I ended up watching the whole series so you don’t have to. Shot in Korean, the version I watched was terribly dubbed into English, with some of the worst voice-over acting I’ve ever been forced to endure. The on-screen acting was way over-the-top too. It’s barbaric, both the premise and execution.

Add in a weird, minor subplot that somehow involves the evils of capitalism (which is all but completely lost amidst the blood and bullets) and you have the makings of Must Miss Media.

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum is Only Murders In The Building, starring Steve Martin Short and Selena Gomez. And my favorite stinger Sing, err, my favorite singer Sting shows up too. The premise involves two older gentlemen, Martin & Short, who are enormous fans of true-crime podcasts. But then a murder happens in their large NYC apartment complex. They immediately start up their own podcast about solving it with the help of fellow tenant Selena Gomez.

Steve Martin is co-writer, co-creator and one of the executive producers. The concept came to him years ago about a guy who likes crime stories, but thinks it’d be too taxing to solve them in real life, unless they happened nearby. Thus, the concept of him only solving crimes in his apartment block was born; only murders in the building would occupy his time. The building, itself, feels like a leading character as well. It exists in real life, too. Well, the exterior shots of it anyway. It was built by the aristocratic Astors in 1909 to lure New Yorkers way up to the remote West Side.

The series is a hilarious whodunit with lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout. There’s nothing really objectionable in the whole ten-episode arc and it’s beyond bingeable.

Squid Game, on the other hand, is completely objectionable and you really have to force yourself to binge it (or take my advice and DON’T watch it). Between both shows, 456 murders take place; Squid Game accounts for 455 of them.

Oddly enough, I anticipated the surprise twists and turns in each of ‘em well ahead of time, early on in both series. I’m normally not good at that, not good at all. It was much tougher in Squid Game, because there were so many illogical and internally inconsistent plot points coming at you like, well, bullets to try and dodge.

I may be “dead” wrong about my assessment though. According to The Guardian, Squid Game just overtook Bridgerton as the most successful Netflix show ever. But given the choice between a fun frolic through a clever, hilarious murder mystery and forcing yourself to slog through a cruel, nasty series of mass murderous games, well, do your own thing; live your own life (as long as you’re not trying to live it in a South Korean alt-reality hellscape game where life, itself, is almost impossible!). Three episodes into Only Murders, my daughter agreed with us saying, “It’s delightfully unexpected.”

I completely agree, delightful and unexpected. So does Hulu. Only Murders In The Building was picked up for a second season and I can’t wait for what’s next.

God help everyone if Squid Game returns.

Only Murders In The Building is available on Hulu.
Squid Game, if you must, is “watchable” on Netflix.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply