Last year, Only Murders in a Building shocked the mainstream and became one of the best new shows of 2021. Both a critical and commercial success, it’s no surprise that the series has picked up award nominations. The most notable is The Golden Globes, in which it was nominated for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Steve Martin and Martin Short were honored with Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Granted, I know that the Golden Globes lost a lot of its prestige due to the Emily in Paris scandal, but the purpose is to highlight the fact that one name has been mostly missing from the awards ballet: Selena Gomez. Now, to be fair, Gomez has received some love from award voters including the Critics Choice Award, but the general consensus appears to be that Martin Short and Steve Martin were the true stars of the show. Does it mean that Mabel Mora is a terrible character? Let’s get this out the way, this has nothing to do with Selena Gomez’s acting as she does an excellent job with the work that she’s given. She is one of the important reasons that the dynamic between the three leads works so well. Oliver is the eccentric and quirky one of the bunch. Charles is more of the straight man in the group. Mabel is the sassy and often mysterious girl who shouldn’t work due to the clear age gap between her and the two men, but their chemistry is perfect. Mabel doesn’t exactly have the sad backstory that Charles and Oliver do, but that’s what makes her character intriguing.
She’s in the thick of the crime itself. Known as The Hardy Boys, Mabel’s world was turned upside down due to the fact that her best friend Zoey died. Oscar was blamed for a crime that he didn’t commit. Tim knew who the killer was but couldn’t reveal the secret because he was blackmailed by Teddy Dimas. One negative is that there should’ve been a deeper exploration regarding Mabel and how it truly affected her life before and after the murders. It’s made clear that she has trust issues since the incident happened, but we don’t get an intimate flashback from Mabel’s perspective on how her life truly changed that evening. Just like the tremendous episode, The Boy From 6B, allowed audiences to jump into the world of Theo Dimas and how he sees life from his perspective, we should’ve gotten an episode that strictly focused on her character and the before and after moments following Zoey’s tragic death. Considering that Mabel plays a crucial part of the series, it’s surprising that she didn’t get an episode focused on her. It also would’ve eliminated the need for the clunky exposition when Mabel reunites with the gang following their temporary split. So, Mabel isn’t exactly the most layered character in the series given her close connection with Tim Kono, but I would never consider her to be a bad character. As I previously stated, Mabel is one of the important reasons that the dynamic between her, Charles, and Oliver works so well. Take Mabel out of the equation, you have an eccentric man who could easily veer into an extremely annoying territory. Charles is the more-leveled headed figure, but the hilarious banter between him and Mabel would disappear, and he wouldn’t be as fun as he comes across onscreen.
However, it’s not just the fact that Mabel works within the group, but her character is given some level of dimension. She is one of the protagonists, so the series does showcase her world a bit and we understand Mabel more in the To Protect and Serve episode. Granted, it’s not to the level that would’ve made her standout as a tremendous character, but we at least get her motivation and what makes her tick overall. More importantly, she never detracts anytime she’s onscreen. Mabel adds value to the case more often than not, and she’s a nice anchor that actually helps improve the lives of Charles and Oliver. The possible reason Mabel isn’t getting much love as her two co-stars may be due to the fact that her character just isn’t explored to her greatest potential. There’s a lot more that could’ve been done to flesh out her journey, and once the case is solved then Mabel’s time on the show ultimately turns out to be a bit disappointing. Though, given the big cliff hanger at the end, perhaps the writers opted to not go into Mabel’s world intensely because she’s now at the center of another murder mystery. Either way, Mabel Mora isn’t a bad character, just one that should’ve been so much more.Steve Martin
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