‘Only Murders’ Nails Growing Divide Between Millennials, Gen-Z

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Screenshot: Hulu

Hulu’s Only murders in the building—the comedy-mystery starring Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short as true crime podcast-stans-turned-citizen-detectives—was nominated for 17 Emmys this week, and for good reason. The show is somehow still a constant delight even in its second season, and its greatest strength is arguably its intelligent, culturally relevant writing and dialogue.

This week’s episode was no exception. The gang is currently waist-deep accused of murdering the president of his apartment building and podcasting him every step of the way. On top of all this, seemingly out of nowhere, Charles’ (Martin) almost-ex-stepdaughter Lucy – a very hip teenager – shows up and is surprisingly incredibly helpful, revealing secret passages hidden deep within the Arconia. thinks that three real adult detectives could have discovered each other.

But my favorite moment of the episode was a particular exchange between Mabel de Gomez and guest star Zoe Colletti as Lucy. Only murdersThe most recurring joke is that Mabel, in her late twenties, and Charles and Oliver (Short), in their 70s and 60s, respectively, have trouble understanding each other due to the generational divides. Throughout the first season, the two sign their texts to Mabel, question why Mabel and her kind (Millennials) dislike phone calls, and often misunderstand her use of slang. With Mabel and Lucy, the show flips the script on this running bit: now it’s the millennials who are offline.

Lucy is immediately thrilled to meet Mabel, who is unknowingly a TikTok sensation called “Bloody Mabel” in reference to the series of murders and deaths she always finds herself engulfed in. “Bloody Mabel is, like, my favorite thing since those baby witches tried to spell the moon. They torn upLucy told her. “Ripped,” I chained the context clues together, seems to mean…they were…cool?

Lucy continues, speaking at about 3x speed to a visibly confused Mabel: “This TikToker created this whole timeline of your life, then cross-checked the various deaths, murders, etc., with the DSM-5. You are so lucky. It’s probably so easy to get, like, xannies and klonopin and stuff. I prayed to the 100 Gecs tree for a real diagnosis, but my mom hates big pharma.

Lucy is deliberately written like what Stereogum calls “a composite of extremely Gen-Z tropes,” but Colletti and Gomez’s delivery gets the point across: contrary to TV writing and baby boomer misconceptions, Millennials and Gen-Z are quite different – the gap between these generations is widening day by day. Some millennials are 40, others well into their thirties, having grown up looking up classmates’ phone numbers in physical directories to call and ask about homework, jamming the family landline in the process; in the 2010s, they furiously reblogged polaroid photos on Tumblr and probably finding Jennifer Lawrence aggressively relatable – maybe too reliable. Zoomers, on the other hand, are veritable teenagers, posting the results of their lives still plugged into BeReal, swimming in their crushes’ DMs, diving down TikTok rabbit holes. How? ‘Or’ What embarrassing Justin Timberlake isand frowning glamorously in vintage film stills.

I had personal interests in liking this piece between the characters of Colletti and Gomez. At 24, I’m what you might call a geriatric zoomer, narrowly hitting the Gen-Z threshold. Many of the traditions of classic, millennial adolescence — landlines, looking up phone numbers in physical school directories, entire Facebook albums of photos of school dances, education through Tumblr feminism — were my bread and butter growing up. At the same time, I adapted relatively well to the minefield that is TikTok; I gave up skinny jeans for a long time; I too am for some reason on BeReal; and I have no recollection of what it was like to travel before 9/11. My age makes me Gen Z, but there are countless ways I identify more with Millennials, and I certainly have more friends who are 27 and 28 than I do. friends who are 16, of which I have zero.

For baby boomers, and frankly, most TV shows that lack the almost surgical cultural precision of Only murders, these generations are interchangeable: both predictable liberal, lazy, empowered, the works. Yet in one blink-and-you-will-miss-it interaction, Only murders nails the reality that many members of Gen Z and Millennials grew up and currently resides in entirely different worlds. It’s just one of many subtle but delightful examples of the show’s brilliance.

About Margie Peters

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