Why Hulu’s ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Went With That Confusing Title

Blame Steve Martin

Only Murders in the Building

(Editor’s note: This story has been republished for the Aug. 31, 2021 debut of Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building.” It originally published on Aug. 24, 2021.)

The title of “Only Murders in the Building” only makes sense if you watch “Only Murders in the Building,” a Hulu original series in which Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez start a podcast titled “Only Murders in the Building,” that, you guessed it, investigates only…

We’ll stop. But looking beyond the killer lineup up of stars for a second here, the long and confusing title could actually turn some potential viewers away, something we discussed with showrunner John Hoffman ahead of the comedy’s August 31 launch. Basically, you can blame Steve Martin.

“That choice was firmly in the mind of Steve Martin from the very beginning,” Hoffman told us. “He presented it to me and said, ‘I feel this has to be the title. I don’t know why, (but) this has to be the title.’”

“[Martin] had very few insistent things when he first presented this idea. It was a very clean idea that we all jumped up and down about. But one of them was that the title be this,” Hoffman continued. “The other was that by the end of each season of the series that we answer who did it for the running season’s crime.”

But Hoffman’s “concerns” about Martin’s title go beyond its vagueness.

“It’s actually interesting to put the word ‘Murder’ in a title. It causes some concerns that way,” Hoffman said. “I hope the way we found to integrate it — and integrate the podcast idea into it — that it became charming in its own way. As Steve (Martin) said — and I agree — it perks your ear up. You’re like, wait a minute, ‘What is that?’ You have to ask again when you hear the title. And he likes that, I like that.”

As Hoffman put it, he wants the (potential) viewer response to be: “I don’t know what that title is, (but) it doesn’t sound like any other show.”

Both are true. At the time of this writing, Hulu made eight of 10 Season 1 episodes available to the press. And we can tell you the title did pretty quickly “became charming,” and “Only Murders in the Building” is “not like any other show.”

“Only Murders in the Building,” or “OMITB,” per Hoffman’s and Martin’s text-message exchanges, premieres next Tuesday on Hulu.


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