Rian Johnson’s New Mystery Series “Poker Face” With Natasha Lyonne is a Royal Flush With Critics

Who better to revive the mystery-of-the-week concept than Mr. Knives Out himself, Rian Johnson, and Ms. Russian Doll herself, Natasha Lyonne? The pairing is too perfect, and the conceit of their new mystery series is too delicious, so you’d be forgiven for assuming that Poker Face (Peacock) would merely deliver a pleasing new diversion, a pair of Jacks if you will. Instead, critics are calling Poker Face a royal flush.

Here’s the conceit; Lyonne plays Charlie Cale, a woman with the incredible ability to determine whether someone is lying. Right there, imagining a performer with Lyonne’s truly singular gifts playing a human lie detector test is comedic gold, yet Johnson puts her on the road in her Plymouth Barracuda and sends her on a series of mysteries, plunging her into new scenes with new characters committing fresh crimes. Due to her incredible ability, Charlie can’t help but solve the crimes as she merrily rolls along.

Lyonne’s charisma is enough to carry any series, but like her own series, Russian Doll, Poker Face surrounds her with great actors working with richly conceived material. Here, Lyonne becomes a modern-day Columbo, an ace sleuth carrying the burden of living in a world of lies and deceit she can see from a mile away. Yet her Charlie isn’t some hard-charging wannabe detective; she’s a self-described “dumbass” (as she calls herself in the first episode), and it’s only because she has no other choice that Charlie hits the road and starts solving crimes.

Lyonne is joined by a starry cast including Adrien Brody, Benjamin Bratt, Judith Light, Hong Chau, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chloë Sevigny, Ron Perlman, Ellen Barkin, Nick Nolte, Lil Rey Howery, Tim Blake Nelson, and more.

So now that you’ve gotten this barebones sketch of what Johnson and Lyonne are up to, let’s take a quick stroll through some of what the critics are saying. Poker Face is now streaming on Peacock (four episodes worth!), with new episodes appearing on Thursdays.

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