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How Season Two Of Hulu's 'Only Murders in the Building' References Real True Crime

The trio at the heart of Hulu's "Only Murders in the Building" are back for Season 2, and this time they are faced with murder accusations... and plenty of other true crime addicts. 

By Gina Tron
Only Murders in the Building

By now, you may already binged all the available episodes of the second season of “Only Murders in the Building.” Binged or not, it should be no surprise that this season, like its predecessor, is sprinkled with true crime references and commentary.

The series delighted viewers during its 2021 debut, in part because of its tongue-in-cheek approach to dramatizing the true crime genre.

Season 1 followed three true crime-obsessed New Yorkers — aging television star Charles (Steve Martin), “Hardy Boys” aficionado Mabel (Selena Gomez) and a broke theater actor Oliver (Martin Short) — living in an Upper West Side apartment building called the Arconia who came together to solve the murder of a man who lived in their high-rise and podcast their entire investigation.

The second season kicks off where the first ended: The trio got arrested for the murder of Arconia board president Bunny (Jayne Houdysell), who was stabbed to death in Mabel’s apartment. They are questioned and released, after which they then come face to face with multiple other podcast junkies (and possible red herrings) who seem a little too obsessed with the trio's true crime podcast.  

While the show is clearly fiction, the plot wasn't invented out of thin air.

One so-called true crime junkie turned into a real life suspect of a crime mentioned on a podcast he was a fan of, according to a January Narratively story.

Steve Pankey was a Patreon subscriber of the podcast “The Trail Went Cold,” originally launched in 2016 — and he was once named a person of interest in the 1984 disappearance of 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews, kidnapped from her family’s Colorado home. The podcast covered the case in 2017 and, in 2019, he began giving interviews to true crime podcast hosts about the case.

That didn’t end up well for him: He was charged with her murder in 2020. A jury failed to reach a verdict on the murder and kidnapping charges, resulting in a mistrial, though they did convict him on a misdemeanor charge of false reporting, according to NBC Denver affiliate 9News. Prosecutors are preparing to re-try him for murder and kidnapping.

And, just like in the first season, the show takes some shots at the true crime genre.

“The truth is that people don’t want to spend their commutes hearing about run-of-the-mill tragedies,” podcast host Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) states, noting that missing girls and homicidal hotties are all the rage.

Canning appears to be based on the creators of “Serial,” one of the most influential and popular modern-day true crime podcasts to date. The first season of that podcast, which focused on the murder of teen Hae Min Lee and explored the guilt or innocence of her boyfriend Adnan Syed (who was convicted of the crime), made waves when it was released in 2014. Fey's voice on the fictional podcast bears a distinctive resemblance to “Serial” host Sarah Koenig’s. 

Bunny’s parrot also seems to be a squawking centerpiece of the new season: Could she “talk” and end up spilling who murdered her former owner?

That, too, really happened: Glenna Duram, 49, was convicted in 2017 of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of her husband, 46-year-old Martin Duram, and a pet parrot seemingly witnessed the murder, the Associated Press reported. Martin Duram's ex-wife, Christina Keller, took ownership of Bud, an African Grey parrot, after her ex-husband's murder and claimed that Bud repeated “Don’t f------ shoot” in Martin Duram’s voice. The victim's parents thought it possible that Bud was repeating their son's last words, the BBC reported. (The bird and his utterances were not admitted into evidence at trial.)

And in the show, Amy Schumer — played by Amy Schumer — moves into the apartment where Sting — played by Sting — once lived and she, too, is a true crime junkie. She even tries to get Oliver to sign over the rights to turn the podcast “Only Murders in the Building” into a television miniseries.

Several true crime podcasts have been made into televised miniseries — including “Serial,” which was turned into an HBO true crime series in 2019.

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