Paula Pell’s ‘Mapleworth Murders’ Is A Quirky, Queer-Inclusive Crime Caper

The Four Percent

Paula Pell couldn’t have predicted that her new show, “Mapleworth Murders,” would premiere amid a global pandemic. Still, the actor-comedian is hopeful the short-form series will help to “reset tired and stressed hearts and minds” in challenging times.

“Mapleworth Murders” is a modern ― and deliberately zany ― take on an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery that winks at “Murder, She Wrote” and is laden with playful (and queer-inclusive) innuendo. 

Pell stars as Abigail Mapleworth, a mystery novella author who moonlights as a homicide detective in the quaint, New England-style town of New Woodstream. (Catch a new trailer for the series above.) 

In Monday’s three-part series debut, “A Murderer’s Beef,” Abigail is showing her Gen Z niece, Heidi (Hayley Magnus), around town when the pair stumble upon the corpse of a local butcher who appears to have been done in by a cut of his own meat. 

Paula Pell (right) and Hayley Magnus star in "Mapleworth Murders," which debuted Monday on Quibi. 

Paula Pell (right) and Hayley Magnus star in “Mapleworth Murders,” which debuted Monday on Quibi. 

Beloved for her longtime stint as a writer for “Saturday Night Live,” Pell co-wrote “Mapleworth Murders” with fellow “SNL” alum John Lutz, who appears in the show as Gilbert, a sweet-natured local cop. When Lutz approached her with the idea of a comedy-mystery focused on an eccentric crime solver, Pell says she was “in immediately.” Together, the co-creators tapped a number of their pals, including Fred Armisen, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph, to make guest appearances. 

“I have always loved watching ‘Murder, She Wrote’ and as a lifetime theater nerd, Angela Lansbury is my spirit animal,” she told HuffPost in an email. “We created a loving tribute because we love that show and yes, we made it funnier and a little dirtier.”

As seen in the early episodes of “Mapleworth Murders,” Gilbert’s feelings for Abigail extend beyond neighborly kinship. The scribe-turned-sleuth, however, prefers the company of her cats and her handywoman (played by Pell’s real-life fiancée, Janine Brito). 

Pell has said her decision to play Abigail as a not-quite-subtly queer woman “came naturally.”

“Laughter is a true form of self-care, and I am honored to be providing some of it,” said Pell, who co-starred an

“Laughter is a true form of self-care, and I am honored to be providing some of it,” said Pell, who co-starred and co-created the show with John Lutz.

“All of us grew up with that one aunt that shared expenses with another friend,” she told The Advocate in a Monday interview. “They baked together, and you’re like, ‘How long have they shared an apartment, you know, just for safety reasons?’ I love those old-timey ladies that are also just queer as hell.”

Though she and Lutz had planned to celebrate their new series “at a crowded steam room, like we prefer all our premieres,” Pell would like “Mapleworth Murders” to offers viewers a welcome respite from their pandemic-focused reality. 

“Laughter is a true form of self-care,” she said, “and I am honored to be providing some of it.” 

New episodes of “Mapleworth Murders” premiere on Quibi Monday. 

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