Tuesday, February 14, 2023

TV Tuesday: Poker Face

My husband and I have a new favorite TV show that we are absolutely loving. Poker Face stars one of our favorite actresses and is suspenseful, funny, and just plain fun.

The fabulous Natasha Lyonne (from Orange is the New Black and Russian Doll, two other outstanding shows) stars as Charlie Cale, a woman with an unusual talent: she can tell when someone is lying. For awhile, Charlie made money playing poker, but she became renowned (or rather, infamous) rather quickly and was soon banned from high-roller poker games after winning too much money. As the show opens, Charlie is living a quiet life working in a small, family-run casino. No more poker for her; she's just earning her living as a waitress in the casino and living in a trailer. When a friend of hers turns up dead, and Charlie can tell someone involved is lying about it, she gets involved in finding out what really happened. Meanwhile, the casino's manager, played by Adrian Brody, wants Charlie to use her poker/truth-telling talents for his own gain, to watch a high-roller game being held at the casino and help his plant win. Let's just say that things go very wrong along the way. By the end of the first episode, Charlie is on the run, with the casino's muscle, Cliff (played by Benjamin Bratt), chasing her. From then on, each episode finds Charlie in some small out-of-the-way place, with a new job, just trying to live a quiet, peaceful life. In each place, though, she stumbles on another murder and feels compelled to make sure the bad guys pay and the good guys are redeemed.

This is something of a classic murder mystery show, with a twist. Charlie usually ends up solving each crime the old-fashioned way, by talking to people and finding clues, but there is often some sort of innocuous comment someone makes that Charlie knows is a lie and makes her realize there was a murder (versus an accident or natural death) in the first place. The mysteries are twisty and unusual. The best part of this show, though, is its star. If you've seen Natasha Lyonne in either of her previous big shows, you know she steals the scene every time. She's an absolute delight to watch on screen, and here, she is at her laid-back, snarky best. It's easy to root for her. Plus, each episode has some big name guest stars in fabulous roles, like Judith Light as an aging hippy in a retirement home and Ellen Barkin as a washed up actress who wants one last hit on-stage in a regional theater. Every episode is loaded with clever humor, great writing and acting, and a fun mystery to get to the bottom of. We very quickly caught up on the first six episodes and are anxiously awaiting the next one!

Poker Face is a Peacock original series and is available on Peacock exclusively, airing on Thursdays.

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