Sometimes you have to take a look at the more playful side of a murder mystery. These 10 hilariously dark titles do just that!
By Meredith Lavergne
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Not every murder mystery has to be an intense thriller. Sometimes murder can be—dare we say?—fun. Lighthearted murder mysteries spoof the genre, focusing less on the victim and instead digging into the colorful suspects and detectives of the case. It’s time to bring on the dark comedies and mysterious murders!
Christina Applegate stars in Netflix’s layered murder mystery as Jen Harding, a hotheaded widow searching for the hit-and-run driver who killed her husband alongside Linda Cardellini (aka Judy Hale), an eccentric optimist who befriends Jen, but isn’t quite what she seems.
The third and final season of Dead to Me debuts November 17 on Netflix.
Ahead of the premiere, Applegate spoke with Variety to share the harrowing experience of wrapping the hit series. In 2021, Applegate was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while shooting the final season. “That January, my toes got numb, and I ignored it. The balls of my foot got numb, and I ignored it. All of a sudden, I’d be, like, falling over. People were like, 'Oh, it’s just neuropathy.' At this point, they had to take me with a wheelchair to set because I couldn’t walk if the set was far. I was sleeping all the time, and I gained 40 pounds—a lot of things happened.”
Grappling with a life-changing diagnosis and saying goodbye to a character that meant so much to her, Applegate was under serious stress. Netflix considered pulling the plug on the show in fear that the strains of filming were too great. “I haven’t watched it, and I don’t think I will, because it’s too hard for me. But I couldn’t have done it without this need to tell our story. They were gonna pull the plug, you know? Because it was like torture—and they felt like they were torturing me, too. But I was like, 'No, no, no, no, no, no: we have to finish this story. It’s too important to our hearts; too important to our souls. And we have to give this gift, not only to ourselves—there are people that love these characters, and we’ve got to let them have their closure too.' So, if that meant me having to take a break in the middle of the day so I could go sleep—or me just leaving because I couldn’t do anymore—then that’s what we had to do.”
“Just when I think I’ve got this show figured out, a new bit is introduced and I remain hooked.” -@briandeweese
Grace's (Anne-Marie Duff) sisters loathe her husband John Paul (Claes Bang). He treats Grace and everyone in the family terribly, ruining their loving family dynamic. So the sisters band together to kill him without Grace knowing they're behind it. The murder mystery is how it happens—and if a suspicious insurance agent will uncover what they did. This Irish production has a great cast, featuring Sharon Horgan, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene, Eve Hewson, Brian Gleeson, and Daryl McCormack.
“Never has a show made me gasp as much as this one! Some of the best tv I’ve seen in quite awhile.” -@upmyali
Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez are Hulu’s joyful and unexpected trio. The three A-listers star as neighbors living in the same Upper West Side building with a shared obsession for true crime. When one of their neighbors dies under peculiar circumstances, the unlikely trio gets invested in cracking the murder mystery.
“This tv show was the perfect storyteller, that'll have you squeezing your pillow in anticipation of what's going to happen next, great plot twists as well.” -@ell_c
A high school reunion afterparty goes south when the party's host is murdered. The detectives investigate the whodunit by digging into various accounts from the former classmates, each told in a different style—from a musical to a Sesame Street-type children's show. The comedic cast includes Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Dave Franco, Ilana Glazer, Ben Schwartz, and John Early.
“Absolutely stacked cast who are all excellent led by Sam Richardson. Loved the Rashoman-style storytelling and genre switching in a long form comedy, incredibly well done.” -@kevin_simons
Will Arnett plays an incompetent and eccentric detective who has to solve a murder mystery with the help of a celebrity guest. Every step of the investigation is improvised and the celebrity must use their actual sleuthing skills to uncover who the murderer is. Celebrity guest stars include Conan O’Brien, Marshawn Lynch, Kumail Nanjiani, Sharon Stone, Annie Murphy, and Ken Jeong.
“So. Beautifully. Stupid. If you’re a fan of improv shows like Whose Line is it Anyway? or celebrity prank shows like Punk’d (yes, I’m that old) then you will have a blast with this show.” -@Lauradi308
Kristen Bell stars in Netflix’s thriller parody of bestselling domestic thrillers-turned-tv series, like The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train. In the limited series, a heartbroken Anna (Bell) is prone to mixing wine with her medication and watching the world go by from her window. Anna becomes convinced she’s witnessed a murder around the same time a handsome new neighbor moves in. Was it a hallucination or is she onto something?
“For a parody, it’s actually very suspenseful and has moments of horror. Worth the watch if you like comedic horror.” -@amanda_lambert_589
In the first season of HBO Max’s hit murder mystery, flight attendant Cassie (Kaley Cuoco) wakes up from a night of partying next to a dead body with no recollection of what happened. Afraid to call the police and incriminate herself, Cassie flees the scene and hops on a plane, business as usual. As questions arise, Cassie begins to wonder if she could be the killer.
“So visually impressive and a very fast paced storyline, such an easy and fun watch.” -@emily_power_4826
Ned (Lee Pace) is a pie-maker who possesses the power to bring dead people back to life with the touch of a finger. However, a second touch will immediately revert the un-dead back to death. He uses his unique gift to solve murder mysteries with his alive-again childhood sweetheart, a cynical private investigator and a lovesick waitress.
“This was my favorite show of all time when it was on! It had the perfect mix of death, dark humor, heartbreaking but charming, whimsical and down right cute. I was devastated when it got canceled and I still think about what we lost to this day! Perfect show with a perfect cast. The seasons we do have are well worth the watch.” -@garbagehands
A medical student who becomes a zombie after being bit at a party resorts to eating human brains in order to maintain her humanity. She soon learns the cerebrum cravings allow her to inherit the memories and traits of the brain’s owner. Using this rare insight for good, she must now solve the mysteries behind their deaths with the help from the medical examiner and a police detective.
“This show looks really stupid on the outside but it’s REALLY CLEVER, funny and interesting once you give it a chance. The cover does not do it justice and sadly it has a bad rep. I will recommend this show ‘til the day I die. Hilarious.” -@g00glyeyes
Based on a novel by Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams, this comedic thriller stars Samuel Barnett as an eccentric and holistic specialist in supernatural murder mysteries, alongside Elijah Wood as his reluctant regular-guy sidekick.
“An absolute must watch. One of the rare series where incredible writing meets tremendous casting. I honestly believe that a movement needs to be created so that we can get a proper final third season. Please, do yourself a favor and watch this quirky, hilarious, wonderous show and see that everything is connected.” -@a_nerd_in_the_north
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