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Psych Series Review: Self-Aware and Ironic Humor

Updated: 4 days ago

For the longest time, I could not understand why I liked the Psych series as the premise seemed cliche, the execution was nothing extraordinary and the cast while good, was not mind-blowing. But it was easy viewing, had plenty of seasons, and was just plain fun.


James Roday as Shawn Spencer the Psychic in Psych Series

While this comedy-drama series hasn't won a ton of awards it has a lot things going for it.

What does work for this series is that they don't take themselves seriously, the cast's got great on-screen chemistry, and they make everything as silly as possible while still making sense.


The Plot


Shawn Spencer, the son of a veteran Santa Barbara cop, is a mentalist who makes money by providing tips that solve police cases. When Shawn gets pulled up for suspected involvement in one of the cases he is forced to lie that he is a psychic to save his hide and make some regular money.


James Roday's Shawn Spencer ends up disguising his immense observational skills as the vision of a psychic to work as a police consultant. The result is many cases being solved much faster than usual while navigating a hurricane of chaos and childishness.


James Roday and Dulé Hill playing Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster on Psych Series

James Roday and Dulé Hill play a couple of childhood friends who go all in as police consultants while trying to hide their inner coward in any dangerous situation they come across. The funniest bits are when both of them let out effeminate screams whenever startled in a mission and having each one is ready to abandon the other and run away to great comedic effect.



The background score in this series does a lot of heavy lifting setting the scene up and taking the audience on the showrunner's storytelling journey. Also, the ridiculous graphic that highlights a particular object in Shawn's vision has a dual purpose - drawing attention to the clue and irony.



The graphic undercuts the seriousness of the clue-finding, making the graphic ironic in a way - although I'm not sure if this is intentional or it just works for the series this way.




The Cast of the Psych Series


James Roday is the centerpiece of this series delivering every dialogue ironically as the character Shawn Spencer who gets roped into working for the Santa Barbara Police Department as a Psychic. Shawn Spencer's highly intuitive analysis skills are balanced out by his childish tendencies, lack of worldly knowledge, and being able to speak only one language. Shawn most times isn't aware of basic technological advances, fundamental geography, and common acronyms and abbreviations.



Right from the first episode, I am reminded of Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura character due to the over-the-top dialogue delivery. Also, the very first case that Spencer takes up involves a pet which makes it similar to The Pet Detective movie.



But I think the difference is that Ace Ventura behaves the way he does while expecting other people to react to him as if he's an average person. Shawn on the other hand knows he's a massive idiot with a few impressive talents, fully expecting people to treat him like a mild joke. Then again, as The Dude in The Big Lebowski says - "That's just my opinion man..."



Dulé Hill plays Burton Guster, Spencer's trusty albeit sassy sidekick who goes along with Spencer's schemes to go on adventures regularly. The logical part of the Psych duo, affectionately called Gus, ensures that Shawn doesn't get beaten up by people due to his idiocy and is the sane face of the Psych Private Detective Agency.


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Timothy Omundson plays Carlton Lassiter the trigger-happy head detective at a Santa Barbara police station opposite Maggie Lawson who plays Juliet O'Hara, Lassiter's charming partner. Carlton is called Lassi by Shawn and plays the stereotype of the overly aggressive North American alpha male.



Corbin Bernsen as Henry Spencer plays Spencer's father to perfection being exhausted by the person his son represents - someone with a lot of talent and potential but zero direction in life. Bersen does an amazing job of playing Roday's father with years of wisdom hidden behind retired eyes.


Kirsten Nelson plays a patient police captain Karen Vick who puts up with problematic detectives and the supremely annoying in-house psychic who helps solve police cases.



The Psych series has a massively impressive roster of guest stars and cameos from Star Trek's George Takei to Scandal's Kerry Washington. Other really fun guest appearances include the original Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio, the adorable Rachel Leigh Cook, and the awesome Tim Curry.



Comedy heavyweight Kurt Fuller of Scary Movie fame plays the eccentric coroner Woody who brings his effortless brand of funny to the show.



Should You Watch It? Yes!


The Psych Series is an easy watch that gets better with each episode at least until season 5 or 6. After Season 6 the episodes do get a little less fun and a little draggy, but every episode before then is pure gold.


Watch the Psych Series for the irreverent and oftentimes childish humor that will make you laugh when you least expect it.

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