Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Episode 1 of "Only Murders in the Building"

Meryl made her return to the screen (can we even count Extrapolations?) last night with the debut of Hulu's third season of Only Murders in the Building. Over the past week or so, the show has been garnering terrific reviews (currently 99% on Rotten Tomatoes!), with Meryl possibly scoring the most glittering mentions. I can't help but compare her participation in this show to her turn in the second season of HBO's Big Little Lies in 2019. Both shows had tremendous earlier seasons, and while Meryl's performance in BLL was praised, the season on the whole turned out to be less impressive than the almost perfect first. It's natural to have a concern that Only Murders might suffer the same fate, but thankfully that was not to be. 

Episodes one and two were released last night (the remainder will be released on a one-per-week basis moving forward), but I'm only commenting on the first since (spoiler) Meryl wasn't in the second. Most folks know by this point that she portrays a perpetually hard-on-her luck theater actress who gets a big break in Oliver's (Martin Short) new play. Meryl has a great opening scene, where she delivers a touching monologue in her audition, causing Oliver to ask her "where have you been?" I've always thought that portraying someone acting within a role has to be one of the trickier things to do for an actor. Just how "good" do you let yourself be? In the case of Streep's Loretta Durkin, she's not meant to be a great actor, but Meryl had to manage to showcase someone who's able to make an impression on a director without being too necessarily impressive to the TV audience. They also do a fun parody of Streep, with her character having an apparent penchant for delivering accents in order to provide context to her character's origins. 

Loretta is a sweet, rather unassuming woman. With the (double) death of Paul Rudd's character, Ben Glenroy, we at first have little reason to suspect her as the murderer, but a seemingly passing comment from her about how he was an asshole gives us just enough doubt about Loretta as both a person and a suspect. There's also a glimmer of a budding romance between her and Oliver, which will be fun to watch play out in the coming episodes. The two perform a little ditty of a duet on a piano bench, the first of what we're told will be more than one musical number from Streep. 

I'm looking forward to the full season. I already like the Broadway feel of the storyline and Meryl doesn't seem like she's sticking out to much or that she's overshadowing the other characters, while still making a great impression with her sort of quirky characterization of Loretta. And as much as I'm thrilled to see Meryl in something new and well-received, I can't help but wish that this were or at least the next thing she's in will be a compelling drama with (another) complex character. For now, we'll get to thoroughly enjoy Loretta each week until October. 


  1. I love her character and the performance! Once again, it takes a television series to give her something substantial. The opening scene alone reminded me why I became a fan in the first place. Also hearing her (and Rudd and Short) say the place where I am from was an added delight!

  2. I loved her two reactions to Martin Short’s “Where have you been?”

    First, her genuine confusion and nervousness to the question, then the realization that she nailed the audition! Just in that initial scene I believed she was an actress who was used to getting passed over her entire career…until that special moment.

  3. I am really happy with the great reviews for Meryl and the show in general. I will be looking for a place to watch it!

    As always, hoping for news on that next project after a long period of supporting appearances.

  4. I saw the episode 1. Meryl was superbe,terrific , but the show was flat, unspirited and -Gosh -i coudnt see the excessive Paul Rudd.He ruined the surprise. I'm just glad for Meryl.