Poker Face

Poker Face

Led by the magnetic Natasha Lyonne, Poker Face’s roadtrip mystery-of-the-week setup makes for one hell of a ride

The Very Best

8.8

TV Show

United States of America
English
Crime, Mystery
2023
RIAN JOHNSON
Natasha Lyonne, Rian Johnson
58 min

What it's about

A mystery-of-the-week series following Charlie Cale, who has an extraordinary ability to determine when someone is lying. She hits the road in her Plymouth Barracuda and with every stop encounters a new cast of characters and strange crimes she can't help but solve. Guest stars are plentiful throughout, from Ellen Barkin and Adrien Brody to Luis Guzmán and Chloë Sevigny. An inverted detective series, also known as a "howcatchem" and popularized by "Columbo," the crime and perpetrator are shown at the beginning of each episode, and follows Charlie as she tries to solve the mystery.

The take

From the very start, Poker Face lays out all its cards—it shows us who dies and in the hands of whom. That is how an episode always opens, but in each case, we’re in a different corner of rural America, bumping elbows with different folks. That’s because our unwitting detective, the human lie detector Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) is on the run from a crime syndicate. So with nothing but her trusty car and the clothes on her back, she races through the US while making friends and enemies along the way. 

There is a pattern to the story, but the thrill lies not in seeing when Charlie inevitably solves the case but in how she does it, which is full of heart and wry humor. Lyonne is absolutely magnetic, and her performance is only one of the show's many hit-making elements. With a star-studded cast, beautiful Americana backdrop, and masterful editing (whose camerawork and coloring recall the show it references, Columbo), Poker Face sure is a trip to watch.

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