Poker Face Season 1 Review – Rian Johnson revives a tired genre with spellbinding results

January 25, 2023
Adam Lock 0
Peacock, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
4

Summary

Poker Face is original and inventive, finding fresh ways to reinvigorate a tired genre. Rian Johnson works his usual magic alongside a never-ending cast list of Hollywood stars. But it is Natasha Lyonne that stands out with her unparalleled charm ushering in a new era of enthralling female detectives.

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4

Summary

Poker Face is original and inventive, finding fresh ways to reinvigorate a tired genre. Rian Johnson works his usual magic alongside a never-ending cast list of Hollywood stars. But it is Natasha Lyonne that stands out with her unparalleled charm ushering in a new era of enthralling female detectives.


We review the Peacock series Poker Face Season 1, which does not contain spoilers.

After the wham-bam, back-to-back hits of Knives Out and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, writer and director Rian Johnson decides to stick with what he knows and remains in the detective genre for his next project, where he excels once again.

This time, the creative swaps the silver screen for the small screen, gifting viewers with a brand-new case-of-the-week mystery series. Poker Face isn’t Johnson’s first foray into the TV world, having directed some of the best Breaking Bad episodes in the previous decade. But this Peacock series marks Johnson’s first original series as the sole creator. And what he has crafted here is a highly entertaining and predictably smart howcatchem series that surpasses anything else in its field.

Poker Face Season 1 Review and Plot Summary

The show centers on casino worker Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne), who has the nifty ability of telling when someone is lying. This super-power has landed her in trouble before and it places her in grave danger once again. She finds herself on the run from those who wish to do her harm back at the casino. Whilst living out on the open road, Charlie interacts with bizarre individuals (cue the endless guest stars) and finds death around every corner. See, Charlie is literally a death magnet, finding herself entangled in murder mysteries on a weekly occurrence, but her powers allow her to solve these killings quickly and efficiently, as she starts to hone her skills.

Natasha Lyonne plays Charlie with all the charm and comedic timing that you’d expect from the Russian Doll star. She makes Charlie into a likable lead, who you’ll happily follow over the course of this ten-episode season. Charlie is by no means perfect, and she makes mistakes along the way, but her unique outlook is refreshing in this over-saturated market. Normally, the detective is damaged and disturbed, which I’m sure Charlie is as well, but here the amateur sleuth is also perky and optimistic. When you’ve seen so many whodunits over the years, this becomes a welcoming breath of fresh air.

Each episode focuses on a different murder mystery. As the howcatchem format suggests, the audience are shown the killing and the perpetrator, but it is up to Charlie to solve the crime. She uses her lie detector magic and a keen eye for spotting clues to decipher the killer and a motive, but she always leaves before the police show up. It’s a clever structure that may get repetitive at times, but Johnson still keeps the narrative fresh with each new case.

Is Poker Face Season 1 good?

Poker Face is a murder mystery series like no other, with a cast list that astounds. If you’ve grown tired of the detective genre or love the format wholeheartedly, then you will feel right at home with this latest offering from Peacock. Rian Johnson brings his Hollywood talent to the small screen but doesn’t lose his intricate storytelling abilities or star power draw, even if the budget is somewhat lowered.

The series uses Johnson’s regulars, with an impressive score from Nathan Johnson throughout. While frequent collaborators Adrien Brody and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are joined by the likes of Chloe Sevigny, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson, Cherry Jones, and many, many more. Viewers are really spoilt for choice with this revolving guest-star line-up.

What is also refreshing is how the series allows viewers time to meet and get to know these new characters in more depth in each episode, instead of rushing straight into the murder in the opening scene. This patience and respect for the narrative works wonders, giving these characters believability and an important connection with their audience.

Johnson also plays with expectations throughout the series, finding room to plant twists even though we know the major plot points going in. Every episode is cleverly written, with space for humorous comedy moments as well. An all-around hit from Johnson and Lyonne, this is the making of a new detective series for the ages.

What did you think of Poker Face Season 1? Comment below.

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