Perhaps the only thing more riveting than true crime itself is a fictional television series about true crime, Only Murders in the Building. The Hulu series follows three unlikely pals — Charles Haden-Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) — as they embark on a journey to uncover the truth behind some mysterious murders. And the one thing that brought them all together is their obsession with the true crime podcast All Is Not OK in Oklahoma.
Throughout both seasons of the true crime-themed series, All Is Not OK in Oklahoma is the thruline that brings our protagonists together. While in Season 1 it looms over the main events of the series, it takes more of a front seat in Season 2. So is All Is Not OK in Oklahoma based on a real podcast, or is it solely a work of fiction, like the rest of Only Murders in the Building?
‘All Is Not OK in Oklahoma’ is loosely based on some real podcasts.
While All Is Not OK in Oklahoma is not a real podcast, it is based on some real podcasts. The most obvious comparison is of course Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig. The host of All Is Not OK in Oklahoma, Cinda Canning, who’s played by Tina Fey, bears a striking vocal resemblance to Sarah. They both speak in a drawn out mysterious tone that leads us safely to the answers while still keeping us entertained.
Not only that, but like the fictional Cinda, Sarah really did win a Peabody Award in 2014 for her work on Serial. And finally, Cinda notes that she was bought for $30 million, which may be a reference to the New York Times recent acquisition of the Serial team, Sarah included. Plus, when Serial came out, the world was obsessed — there’s not one person who hasn’t at least heard of the podcast. All Is Not OK in Oklahoma seems to garner the same level of attention and fame.
But its content seems more closely aligned with another popular true crime podcast, S-Town, which was also created by the Serial producers. In S-Town, New Yorker Brian Reed steps into rural Alabama to investigate an unsolved murder; the podcast has since been criticized and even sued for exploitation of Southern people for the entertainment of New Yorkers.
Similarly, All Is Not OK in Oklahoma features Cinda, a New Yorker, diving into rural Oklahoma to solve the crime of what happened to Becky Butler. And both have one other major similarity. (Spoiler alert!) Neither crime actually ever happened. So in Only Murders in the Building, Cinda becomes a symbol of doing whatever it takes to get fame, fortune, and a Peabody Award. But how far does she go to make that happen?
Season 2 of Only Murders in the Building is now available to stream on Hulu.