Psych premiered in 2006, right when I discovered television. I was enamored with the premise: an exceptionally observant slacker turns psychic detective, solving crimes with his best friend. The show was upbeat, most of the episodes followed a screwball comedy format (my favorite type of comedy), and Shawn Spencer was a brash showman with Sherlockian skills. What wasn’t to love?
There’s something for everyone in Psych, due to the varied age range and personalities of the characters, and I think you’d love it for a myriad of reasons, some of which I’ve collected below (in no particular order):
1. James Roday is one of my favorite actors. He imbues the pesky, flippant Shawn Spencer with a tongue-in-cheek, childlike mischief that I find endearing. He’s a fantastic comedian, able to juggle Oscar Wilde-esque witty banter, funny facial expressions and physical comedy in a matter of moments.
2. The buddy cop vibe of Psych is something I deeply appreciate, since most crime shows I’ve seen tend to focus on a romantic relationship between partners, and I’m not too interested in watching romance unfold. I find it trite and boring. It was refreshing to watch two guys who’d been friends forever learn to work in high-stress, often dangerous situations without having to wonder if they were going to kiss already.
3. Running gags amuse me to no end, and Psych happens to have three: A pineapple is shown or mentioned in every episode, a fist bump happens at least every couple episodes, and Shawn always comes up with a ridiculous name for Gus when they investigate. Among my favorites are “Ghee Buttersnaps,” “Lavender Gooms” and “Ovaltine Jenkins”. The gags are like inside jokes between the show and the audience, helping to create a deeper connection.
4. Psych is a rare show in that it isn’t cynical. Where Community (and several other comedies) seems to thrive on cynicism, Psych remains cheerful, poking fun at characters’ foibles while keeping them sympathetic. Shawn can be annoying, but under the facade is a guy who is out to prove that he has value. I can relate to that.
5. The connection I, along with the rest of the fan base, have with the show is further entrenched by the cast taking care to involve us. The 100th episode of Psych aired recently, and several endings were filmed. We got to choose which one made the final cut! In February, Psych had an all-night marathon of episodes picked by the viewers. I chose carefully, attempting to put together a perfect lineup. I felt like my opinion and involvement mattered.
6. As a writer, I’m thrilled that the quality of Psych remains stable. I know what I’m getting. It’s consistent without getting stale, and no matter what twists and turns take place over a season, I can depend on writers who “get” Shawn and Gus to provide me with fresh storylines as well as classic character reactions.
7. The use of color in television fascinates me, and Psych utilizes my favorite color, orange. It’s warm, energetic, and outgoing, which is perfect for Shawn, while also tying in with the show’s upbeat, positive outlook (It’s also a smart move on the show’s part since Shawn and Gus are supposed to be in California, although the show is filmed in British Columbia).
8. While I don’t usually love guest stars, I do think Psych is brilliant for having recurring guest stars, inserting them into families and already existing friendships. Whenever I hear that Cary Elwes, who was in my favorite movie growing up (The Princess Bride), or Ally Sheedy (who starred in my current favorite live action movie, The Breakfast Club) is going to be in an episode, I clear my calendar to watch.
9. I like knowing who my favorite writer on a show is, and without exception, my favorite episodes of Psych are always written or co-written by James Roday. “Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion” is my absolute favorite episode, and of course, Steve Franks (the show’s creator) and James Roday wrote it. It combines my love of fashion with my love of mystery, along with my passion for the epic slo-mo shot.
10. My favorite thing of all, however, is that Psych has mastered the art of the “Theme Episode”. I adore shows that use a pre-existing structure to tell their own stories, and Psych has managed to create some of the funniest episodes using this formula. “Dual Spires” is a riff on Twin Peaks, “American Duos” skewers the worst in reality television, and “100 Clues” used the basic outline from the hilarious movie Clue.
Seven seasons later, I still think Psych is one of the funniest shows on television. Now if they’d just do a Firefly or Arrested Development themed episode, I could die happy.
Do you watch Psych? What would you add to my list?