Natasha Lyonne looking cool in Rian Johnson's Poker Face on Peacock.

5 Reasons Why You Should Watch ‘Poker Face’

It’s odd how Rian Johnson has this ability to make something that instantly becomes my entire personality. And yet, here we are again. The modern master of mysteries has brought us a new show with Natasha Lyonne as bullshit detector Charlie Cale. I’m talking about the new series Poker Face on Peacock.

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The series, which has been getting rave reviews (including my own), highlights a number of things we love about this genre. It’s the Columbo-ification of Natasha Lyonne mixed with Johnson’s brand of murder mystery and an all star writing team headed by Nora and Lilla Zuckerman that makes Poker Face what it is. And I love it oh so very much.

But if you’re still on the fence about whether or not you want to dive into the new Peacock show (which means you’d have to pay for Peacock), let me tell you why you should be watching it.

5. The return of the “how catch ’em”

Natasha Lyonne looking at a phone in Poker Face

Whether you grew up as shows like Columbo were airing or you were a Numb3rs fan, there are plenty of shows that fall into the “how catch ’em” category. The reason why it’s called a how catch ’em is because we know, for the most part, how the murder happens. The fascinating part is how our chosen detective solves it.

But the trend seems to have fallen off a bit. Gone are the days when a show could present a cut-and-dry case; a one-and-done for the guest stars, if you will. Poker Face aims to bring that back and, in a way, reinvent it by recruiting major guest stars.

As is the Johnson way, all of the people in his movies and (now) television shows are faces we know and love. In the first episode of Poker Face, we get to see not only Adrien Brody but also Benjamin Bratt, Dascha Polanco, and more. That’s something that worked with Columbo, where every episode featured new people for Columbo to meet. It’s very much a traditional how catch ’em and it’s glorious.

4. A new mystery to follow in each episode

Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale, Megan Suri as Sara in Poker Face

And that leads us to each episode having a new mystery. If you don’t like the mystery in one episode, don’t worry! There’s a different one in the next episode! It is so fulfilling to see a story unfold, knowing that by the next episode we’ll have something else to figure out with Charlie. We see how the murder goes down, but Charlie has a lot of leg work to do to figure out exactly what happened.

And watching Natasha Lyonne sniff out liars? Endlessly entertaining.

3. It’s what Rian Johnson does best

Natasha Lyonne with her hands in her pockets in Poker Face

The show was created by Johnson and while the episode credits are shared with other writers, it still has the stamp of a Rian Johnson mystery on it. And that, in my humble opinion, is what Johnson does best. Much like the Knives Out series, it is clear that Johnson loves this genre.

Benoit Blanc is our Hercule Poirot and Charlie Cale is our Columbo. They are both solving murders, but they are so different, and it’s made for such a great return to form for both of these types of murder mysteries. The overall writing team for Poker Face is sheer perfection, too, and includes Alice Ju (Russian Doll and The Other Two), Chris Downey (Station 19), Joe Lawson (BoJack Horseman), and Lyonne herself.

2. Guest stars!

Hong Chau standing in front of a mirror in Poker Face

Again, a how catch ’em tends to have new stars in every episode, and man, does Poker Face pull out all the stops for its cast of characters. The first episode has Adrien Brody, Dascha Polanco, and Benjamin Bratt, but then episode two features Hong Chau, Colton Ryan, and Megan Suri. The point is: Other than Charlie Cale, the majority of the cast is made up of new guest stars and they’re all brilliant.

The first four episodes have such amazing casts that you’d think it can’t possibly get bigger than this, but the future line-up includes Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tim Meadows, and so many more. It’s just non-stop amazing performers and we love it!

1. Charlie Cale

Natasha Lyonne holding paper in Poker Face

The biggest reason to watch the show, though, is Charlie Cale. If you had someone else at the center, someone who didn’t manage to bring that New York edge to the role, I don’t think it’d work. Poker Face works because Lyonne’s energy matches that of Peter Falk’s in Columbo. Maybe it is the New York element or maybe it is how neither of them give a sh*t in their approach to calling people out. Either way, it’s just great to see Lyonne with a similar energy in a similar role.

The series is ultimately fascinating because we’re watching Charlie as she figures out each mystery. That’s the beauty of a how catch ’em, and it’s the beauty of this show. If you didn’t have someone like Charlie at the heart of it, it wouldn’t be as effective. And our obsession with Natasha Lyonne makes it so that we want to keep coming back to see where she goes next.

The first four episodes of Poker Face are on Peacock, so what are you doing? Go watch it right now!

(featured image: Peacock)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.