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Psych 101: A Crash Course In Comedy


Psych is the USA Network crime drama created by Steve Franks, following Shawn Spencer and his friend, Burton “Gus” Guster, as they work as both independent private eyes and consultants for the Santa Barbara Police Department in California. Their detective agency, “Psych”, was not planned. Shawn, a bright but lazy thirty-something man, takes work as it comes his way, never planning ahead. He has dabbled in fifty-seven jobs since high school, including driving the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and starting up an acupuncture clinic. He watches the local news with a keen eye, looking for visual discrepancies to solve cases. When he figures out what happened, simply by using his skills of observation from childhood, Shawn grabs his phone and calls a tip in to the local police. But when he goes to pick up his latest reward check, Head Detective Carlton Lassiter pulls Shawn in for questioning. Shawn has called in so many correct tips that the police are now accusing Shawn of being on the inside of these crimes.

To wiggle out of this situation, and also not admit his father is the core of his skills, Shawn lies and says he is a psychic. He proves it by displaying the details he has picked up in the police station as psychic readings of each person present. Hilarity ensues and Shawn drags Gus into a series of investigations, the clues of which Shawn again presents as psychic visions to the police who are, for the most part, convinced and impressed. Thus, “Psych” is born, an agency built upon a lie, and Shawn is happy with both his new profession and the ironic business name. Yet, Gus is still hesitant with Shawn’s latest venture, but Shawn tells Gus in the Pilot episode, “[. . .]the best way to convince people you’re not lying to them is to tell them you are.”


Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill) and Shawn Spencer (James Roday) perform in “Psych: The Musical.” (photo courtesy of USA Network)

As their investigations continue, it seems as though more shenanigans happen, than actual crime work. Shawn introduces himself properly to those in involved in a newly acquired case, but poor Gus is given the most absurd names by his friend, which are almost always thought of on the spot. Names such as “Methuselah Honeysuckle”, “Dequan ‘Smallpox’ Randolph”, and “MC Clap Yo Handz” are randomly thrust upon Gus at any given moment, which Shawn says with a straight face. Countless movie and TV references are made by the duo while working on their “investigations.” Somehow, miraculously, in the end, though, cases are solved, the suspect is captured, and justice is served.

By combining his physical finesse along with his mental skills, Shawn became a new kind of detective, seasoned with life lessons and the opportunity to use these skills. Steve Franks, the creator and one of the show writers of Psych, mentioned that he wanted Shawn to be something new.

That was the aim of Psych, to bring something different to the typical, serious crime shows out there, and even producer Steve Franks agreed. In an interview with Forbes, Franks commented: “We brought back fun in television. When we started, it was a response to the SVU dead baby of the week. I was depressed by watching television. There’s something that makes you feel better after you watch [Psych]. I hope we, within our network, showed the potential.”

Franks said in the interview, “You [the audience] could have the cops and you could also get the guy who still gets to ride his motorcycle and wear jeans [. . .] most importantly to me, it was something different that I’ve never seen on a detective show before [. . . ]there’s just got to be one thing that makes me say, “I’ve never seen this before,” and then I get excited.”

Yet, the show always keeps the viewer on their toes, with unexpected guest appearances, which makes the series even better. Even though the season finale aired back in March of 2014, Psych stills pleases countless viewers, or “Psych-Os,”. It goes beyond the limits and norms of a typical crime show for sure. With constant hilarity through the show, that will leave you in stitches, and even a Broadway worthy musical thrown into the mix, Psych is sure to be a treat for viewers of all ages.

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