Only Murders in the Building's season 3 death was only part of the tragedy
No one hated the actor more than he hated himself.
Warning: this article contains discussions of eating disorders that some may find distressing.
The finale of Only Murders in the Building confirmed the tragic truth ingrained in the circumstances around Ben Glenroy's death: no one hated the actor (played by Paul Rudd) as much as he hated himself.
In episode 9, 'Thirty', it was revealed that Ben was responsible for writing "f**king pig" on his dressing room mirror. In a fit of self-loathing after devouring an iced cookie, the actor referred to himself as such before scrawling it across the mirror in bright red lipstick.
Our trio of amateur detectives treated the written threat as a key piece of evidence in their ongoing investigation into the strange circumstances surrounding Ben's death – he collapsed on opening night, then made a miraculous recovery at his own wake, before his body was later found at the bottom of the broken elevator.
It was such a huge development that Charles (Steve Martin) even accused his own fiancée Joy (Andrea Martin), a makeup artist, of being the murderer because she was the owner of said lipstick.
But as the curtain went up on the season 3 finale, it became tragically clear that Ben was his own biggest hater.
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Tormented by his toxic relationship with food, it was revealed that Ben had had a breakdown on that fateful night as he came face to face with his favourite cookie.
He tried to resist the urge to eat it – "We both know you're bad… we both know you'll ruin my career" – but instead he allowed himself a moment of pleasure.
Yet, the satisfaction of tasting the delicious snack quickly turned into disgust as he observed himself inhaling it in the mirror.
"What the f*** did you just do?" he said, his enjoyment morphing into regret in an instant. "You're disgusting."
Watching Ben flit between humour, sadness and rage in just a few seconds as he failed to adhere to the impossible standards he set himself offered an insight into how destructive eating disorders are to our sense self-worth, encouraging rigorous self-criticism above all else.
And crucially, his negative self-talk didn't solve the problem or encourage him not to repeat the behaviour.
Instead, it made him feel much worse.
Ben's inability to allow himself freedom and flexibility with food was at the core of his self-hatred, and was intricately tied to his demise.
When his doctor revealed that he had ingested rat poison, the actor knew that it must have come from the cookie that producer Donna (Linda Emond) had given him. As he explained in a flashback in the finale, that was the "only thing" he had eaten that day.
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Though Ben survived that first attempt on his life, with Cliff eventually murdering the actor after pushing him down the lift shaft, his unhealthy relationship with food almost proved fatal, as Mabel (Selena Gomez) eloquently pointed out.
"She knows he can't resist due to his eating disorder," she explained.
While Only Murders in the Building requires you to suspend your disbelief on numerous occasions and embrace the absurdity, that strand of Ben's story is very much rooted in an all too common and painful reality: if not addressed, inner conflict can be fatal.
The character of Ben is a reminder that when we're mentally struggling, our instinct is to take it out on ourselves. Rather than make allowances for our behaviour, we often lean into intense self-hatred and criticism.
"I really need you to be here," he said during a phone call to his friend Trixie, crying in front of a mirror. "I've just never felt so alone."
His arc highlights that so much of the time, no one is crueller to ourselves than we are. While he suffered a grisly demise at the hands of another following a previous attempt on his life, there was no one who tormented or hated him more than himself.
Anyone affected by an eating disorder can find help and support by visiting Beat, or calling the charity's helpline on 0808 801 0677.
Only Murders in the Building is available to stream on Disney Plus – sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.
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