One of my worst running jokes (and there have been plenty of them) in recent memory involves referring to Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building stars as the new Three Amigos. This is a bad joke, yes, because Three Amigos is definitely one of those 1980s movies that’s problematic in a 2022 light. This happens all too often with the ’80s, but my point here is not the context of that movie. Convenient, I know! Here’s my drift, though: that movie starred three comedy legends: Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase. Obviously, only the former two now star in Only Murders, and there’s a new powerhouse in town, and she’s standing alongside them and holding her own.
I’m talking about Selena Gomez, and boy, it’s great to see her as an equal to two male leads who don’t show up to a Ritz-Carlton-based photo call (in this case, that’d be Adam Sandler and Kevin James for 2015’s Hotel Transylvania 2, as shown ^^ above ^^) wearing sloppy t-shirts, baggy pants, and sneakers — while she’s wearing a red carpet gown, as one does. That contrast pointed towards an incredibly awkward dynamic and a young actress pushing forth and doing what one must do to be taken seriously while the dudes could not be bothered to impress. And that’s not really even a knock against Sandler and James, but more about how young women have to adhere to the game, and fortunately, Selena appears to have conquered that hurdle.
Now, she’s shining alongside two male costars (Steve and Martin) who keep things classy when they’re not busy making people laugh onscreen. Although Selena’s not flat-out comedic in this show as Mabel, she’s actually incredibly funny in a disarmingly understated way. Mabel’s standoffish as heck and not a people pleaser (please, no one tell her to “smile”), and this young woman only found her way into living in an upscale building by way of her aunt. She’s full of more secrets than anyone would have expected while almost always holding cards close to her sleeve, and I’m hard-pressed to imagine any other actress pulling off this role with anything close to this effect. The way that Selena plays Mabel, I wanted to know more while also fearing her. She’d judge me harshly, no doubt. And dare I say that she’s the most indispensable character of this show as the story heads into its second season of a whodunnit fiasco.
The dream trio’s back for more after sticking the landing in the first season, which debuted in 2021, and we’ve already got the first chunk of the second round, less than a year later. Let’s not pretend that Only Murders is an isolated incident for Selena, though. She’s always been a badass, but some people are keen to watch Disney veterans slide off the rails. Selena, for the most part, did not go that route.
Don’t get me wrong, Selena had some rough times, back during the years when she dated Justin Bieber, who’s since gotten his act together, and we all make mistakes during youth. But if Selena had followed the typical blueprint of a young Disney star, there would have been palpable rebellion, but she, like Zendaya (who co-starred in Shake It Up!), was always capable of more than playing the smartass Alex Russo on The Wizards of Waverly Place. These days, Selena is carving out her own path, and that includes Only Murders but also her own HBO Max cooking show that launched during the pandemic. It’s called Selena + Chef, and in each episode, she’s teaming up with well-regarded chefs and some of the most recognizable foodie names out there like Padma Lakshmi and the Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver.
Selena + Chef is freaking delightful. Look here, where she calmly reacts to a kitchen fire (like she’s thinking, “Maybe I should blow on it, ever so slightly? That might help”) while her friends freak out. Cool as a cucumber, they say.
The show’s a surprisingly entertaining, never boring, nearly meditative experience to behold, and it’s all about what makes Selena Gomez a star in her own right. She gathers with her friends, doesn’t pretend to be a chef, and has a great attitude about learning from the experts during each episode. The show’s already cranked out three seasons (after launching near the beginning of the pandemic) and is working on a fourth run. And Only Murders is similarly unstoppable, given that the show turned around a second season in warp speed (less than a year after the show’s August 2021 debut). Again, I’m also looking at Zendaya, but along with Selena, it’s great to see these two former Disney kids cranking away so hard right now and doing projects that they love.
All of this success hasn’t even begun to touch upon how Selena’s confronted difficult developments in her personal life over the past decade. She suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disorder that ain’t no joke. She even had a kidney transplant (the donor was a friend) due to the effects that the disease has had on her body. And she pushed forth, despite odds being stacked against her both physically and because of the way that Hollywood works. She’s making it big time, though. And I hope to see her in a baggy t-shirt on the red carpet soon.
Quite simply, there’s never been a better time to celebrate Selena Gomez.
Hulu’s ‘Only Murders In The Building’ premiered Season 2 episodes on June 28.