What Is Real About 'Only Murders In The Building'? The References Aren't As True As The Crimes

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What Is Real About 'Only Murders In The Building'? The References Aren't As True As The Crimes

Three Manhattanites consumed by a true-crime podcast decide to create their own after they suspect a murder has happened in their building. Although there's nothing fake about the very real allure of true crime podcasts, the podcast that inspires Only Murders in the Building is fake. And with references to notable New York City buildings and Broadway musicals, podcasts aren't the only things that aren't real in Only Murders in the Building. Spoilers ahead for Episodes 1-3.

Former TV star Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Broadway director Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and alleged apartment renovator Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) all live in the same building and are all true crime fanatics. When fellow resident of the Acronia, Tim Kono, is found dead by suicide, the trio believes there's something more to it and they release a podcast (presented by Dimas Chicken Wraps) investigating the mysterious circumstances around Kono's death.

Co-creator John Hoffman told TheWrap that Tim Kono's death was partially influenced by his own real friend being involved in a murder-suicide. Yet, Mabel and Tim's old Hardy Boys days may be one of the only pop culture references that's actually real. Here's what's real and fake about the true-crime-inspired Hulu series.

The Arconia

There are plenty of four-syllable Upper West Side luxury apartment buildings with famous residents, like the Dakota (where John Lennon was murdered), the San Remo (Bono, Diane Keaton, and Demi Moore have all been residents), and the very-similarly named Ansonia (once home to Babe Ruth). But the apartment building where Charles, Oliver, Mabel, and Sting live — the Arconia — is a fictional building. Yet, with its very real location of 86th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave., the exterior shots for the Arconia were filmed at the Belnord.

Untapped reported that while the elaborate courtyard belongs to the Belnord, the most of the interior shots, including the lobby scenes, were filmed at another location — 270 Riverside Drive. And as for the infamous Dakota, it was briefly featured in the first episode when a fan stopped Charles in front of it. And yes, Sting really does have an Upper West Side home too.


Martin's Charles-Haden Savage is the star of a long-running cop procedural show Brazzos. He had the catchphrase, "This sends the investigation into a whole new direction." Though Charles's show was from the '90s, it seems reminiscent of detective shows from the '70s that were named for their lead detectives, like Kojak and Columbo. But there's plenty of '90s cop procedural shows it could be spoofing too, like NYPD Blue, Homicide: Life on the Street, and even Law & Order.

"Clair de Lune" Dance

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Short's Oliver is introduced by him talking about a "brilliant dance piece on the world wide web" that he recently saw set to "Clair de lune" by Claude Debussy. This video is really real and was created for Warner Classics in honor of the 100th anniversary of the composer's death. It features French choreographer and dancer Yoann Bourgeois, whose bouncing bounces through the first Only Murders episode.

All Is Not OK in Oklahoma with Cinda Canning

There are plenty of true crime podcasts that are similar to the one that Charles, Mabel, and Oliver bond over — All Is Not OK in Oklahoma with Cinda Canning. But it seems to be mainly parodying Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig with Tina Fey's Canning filling in for Koenig. The murder of student council president Becky Butler with a smile that could light up the room sounds sadly similar to the death of high school student Hae Min Lee, which was the subject of the first season of Serial. Though with Fey's Canning investigating Uncle Ray's barn in Chickasha, Okla., it also shares vibes with another This American Life podcast, S-Town. There's a great list of podcast sponsors for All Is Not OK in Oklahoma, which are a mix of fake (the Milton and Miriam Swann Foundation for the Arts and for Dissolving the Federal Reserve) and real (Trader's Joe).

Gut Milk

In exchange for information that might help with their investigation into Tim's death, Charles and Oliver get stuck selling Gut Milk — "it's a beverage and a business." With a "vanilla blast" flavor and the "Gut Milk" name, it sounds like the protein shake and powder company Muscle Milk. But with there being a multi-level marketing scheme involved, it's also reminiscent of companies like Shakeology and Isagenix. Yum, nothing's as tasty as MLM.

Splash! The Musical

Oliver directed the 2005 musical based on the 1984 Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah movie and it contained such songs as "Make a Splash" (no doubt inspired by "Make 'Em Laugh" from Singin' in the Rain). But Oliver and his producing partner Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane) weren't laughing about what a failure Splash! The Musical was.

There are plenty of lackluster Broadway musicals adapted from famous '80s movies. (Pretty Woman: The Musical comes most readily to mind.) But with how expensive it was and the 12 merman hitting the ground instead of the pool due to a hydraulics issue, it sounds an awful lot like the flop Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

The Spider-Man musical went into previews in 2010 and was plagued with accidents. Vulture reported that at least five cast members were injured during its run, including performer Christopher Tierney. Tierney fell 30 feet into the orchestra pit and told NPR that he broke four ribs and three vertebras, and fractured his skull, scapula, elbow. And at $75 million, it is still the most expensive Broadway musical of all time.

As for Oliver's other shows, they also take inspiration from real theater shows — Newark! Newark! ("New York, New York" from On the Town), Everyone Can Whistle in the Rain (Anyone Can Whistle + Singin' in the Rain), and A Doll's House (... A Doll's House).

So though the crime is true, the rest of the references aren't as much in Only Murders in the Building.

Images: Hulu

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