American television staple ‘Psych’ emphasizes human potential for change


Dustin Gebel

Television has the ability to create a plethora of emotions in its audience, whether it be joy at a couple kissing for the first time or bringing tears to one’s eyes after a shocking character death.

“Psych,” USA’s bread and butter, in its eight seasons managed to capitalize on this power. It explored everything from beautiful and long-running friendships to disdain and rocky roads. It played with almost every genre in some way, shape or form. More than anything else, Psych stands as a testament to how television can just simply be fun.

“Psych” follows the exploits of Shawn Spencer, played by James Roday, and Burton ‘Gus’ Guster played by Dule Hill, as partners for a private psychic detective agency. Roday’s character pretends to be the psychic and is just incredibly perceptive, and Hill, his loveable sidekick with a plethora of hilarious nicknames ranging from “Denzel Diggs Underwood Morris Chestnut Washington” to “Blue Ivy Carter,” make the perfect complementary duo.

The two usually take cases from the Santa Barbara Police Department, working alongside Detectives Carlton ‘Lassie’ Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet ‘Jules’ O’Hara (Maggie Lawson) to solve crimes. The two detectives are usually skeptical of the antics from Shawn and Gus but slowly begin to trust them.

The series tracks the growth of each character and ultimately the growth of Shawn and Jules’ relationship, while Lassie, a by-the-books, squirrel-killing cop falls in love with a woman he helped arrest. The show also tracks the straining relationship between Shawn and his father Henry Spencer, played by Corbin Bernsen.

Even as a crime and mystery show, Psych manages to keep a light-hearted tone because of the rich chemistry between the cast. Hill and Roday’s relationship is especially amazing, allowing each other to play off one another as though they really are the closest of friends. Constant running jokes about pineapples, nicknames and over the top reactions guarantee laughter from the audience.

As these elements of humor litter the show, there are darker and more serious portions as well. At the beginning of the series, Shawn is a little more than a man-child. One of the things the audience gets to experience is watching Shawn grow up. Comparing him in season one and eight reveals a vastly different character, which Roday completely sells.

The show also uses pop culture references, in both a joking and structural capacity to enhance the series. Episodes that are based largely on references of well-known television shows and movies add humor to the series as a whole. Some of these include episodes mirroring things like Clue, Twin Peaks, crime noir films, musicals and Indiana Jones.

Psych’s powerful message is that no matter how irresponsible you are or how stuck you are in a place in your life, you can change. It might not be easy and may take a long time, but those who really care for you will stand by your side and help you change for the better. It’s also a television show that asserts that not everything has to be dark and gritty to be entertaining.

With all eight seasons on Netflix, I would recommend Pysch to anyone looking for a smile in times of sadness or boredom. It’ll work it’s magic over you, making you laugh, cry and wish you had a friend as good as Gus.