Everything is not what it seems on Only Murders in the Building.
On Tuesday, Aug. 31, the Hulu Original series made its debut, marking Selena Gomez's return to television almost 10 years after Wizards of Waverly Place went off the air. So it wasn't surprising that we found ourselves thinking about Gomez's star-making role while taking in Hulu's mystery comedy.
As fans of the 29-year-old actress well know, Gomez became a household name thanks to her portrayal of sarcastic wizard Alex Russo on the Disney Channel hit. On the show, Alex was known for her biting wit, bright clothes and tendency for troublemaking.
And, from what we can tell from the first few episodes of Only Murders in the Building, Gomez's newest character, Mabel Mora, isn't so different from Miss Russo. For starters, Mabel is first introduced to viewers in a fabulous, attention-getting yellow jacket that would've likely had Alex casting a spell to get her hands on it.
Another noticeable comparison? Alex and Mabel both have a distinct sense of humor. Yet, it's safe to say that Gomez's Only Murders in the Building character is far more deadpan and dark.
"2,000 women report assaults here every year," Mabel bitingly notes about New York City in her opening line on the Hulu show. "So, it's a place that makes you binge Dateline to find out how not to end up on Dateline."
Perhaps if Alex Russo had ever graduated from the Disney Channel, she too would have this scathing wit.
Art also unifies these characters, as both Mabel and Alex appear to be gifted artists on their respective shows. Although, we don't recall Alex ever drawing one of her deceased neighbors.
In fact, this is probably a key difference between Gomez's two characters. Wizards of Waverly Place provided a clear look into Alex's life, which was made up of a loving family and a loyal best friend. But Mabel is a bit of a question mark, especially since it takes a few episodes to piece together her backstory and connection to the deceased, Tim Kono (Julian Cihi).
Not to mention, Alex had age-appropriate friends, whereas Mabel has found herself working on a true crime podcast with her much-older neighbors Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short).
See if you can spot these comparisons for yourself by watching the first three episodes of Only Murders in the Building now. New episodes arrive Tuesdays on Hulu.