If you haven't heard of Psych, then please climb out from under your rock for long enough to read this article. Psych aired from 2006-2014, with a total of 8 seasons, a musical (2013), and a movie (2017). A second movie is set to be released later this year. The series centers on a fake psychic detective, Shawn Spencer, who uses his powers of observation and a unique process to solve cases for the Santa Barbara Police Department. His sometimes reluctant partner is Burton Guster (Gus), who works as a pharmaceutical rep. Gus' common sense, knowledge of medicine, and sharp sense of smell help solve cases and keep Shawn out of trouble. The two were friends growing up and remain inseparable in adulthood. Sure, it's an interesting premise, but what makes it so great? Let me tell you.
1) Endless jokes and references
Psych is chock-full of one-liners, puns, jokes, and LOL moments. It also heavily references everything 80s. But you don't need to have lived through them to find the references funny. There's never a dull moment in Psych.
2) Catchphrases and bits
Shawn and Gus have multiple catchphrases. They share some, but also have their own.
Shawn: I've heard it both ways/Wait for it...
Gus: You must be out of your damn mind/I hear that/You know that's right/You heard about Pluto? That's messed up, right?
Both: Suck it!/C'mon son!
There are also bits that run throughout the show. Shawn usually introduces Gus as "my partner" or "my associate," and then adds a ludicrous name or phrase. Some examples: Ghee Buttersnaps, Methuselah Honeysuckle, Sh'Dynasty (S-H-comma to the top, dynasty), Magic Head, Lavender Gooms, Control Alt Delete, Immaculate Conception...the list goes on. On one occasion, Shawn's dad introduces Gus with a list of nicknames Shawn has given him in the past. On another occasion, a woman they are working with introduces Gus with a nickname, and Shawn says, "That's my bit!"
When Shawn and Gus have a disagreement, Shawn often says, "Gus don't be _________." Some examples are in the picture above. Another notable example is "a gooey chocolate chip cookie."
The head detective for the SBPD, Carlton Lassiter, also has a bit. Whenever Shawn mentions something that Lassie, as he's affectionately known, doesn't want to do, he says, "I would rather __________." Examples: shower with a bear, fall in love with a vegan, adopt a child, french kiss a hobo.
Speaking of bits, pineapples are a recurring theme in Psych. There is an image of a pineapple in every episode of Psych, sometimes obvious and sometimes discreet. This bit started in the pilot when James Roday (Shawn) improvised in a scene by grabbing a pineapple off the top of Gus' fridge and saying, "Should I slice this up for the road?"
4) Theme episodes
Psych has multiple episodes that are based on movies or TV shows. To name a few, there's one based on The Shining, Twin Peaks, Jaws, Friday the 13th, Clue, and The Hangover (It's called Last Night Gus and it's my favorite episode). These episodes are entertaining even if you haven't seen what they pay homage to. Of course, if you have, you'll be able to pick up on references and nuances. Sometimes there's overlap. One of the actors from Twin Peaks appears in the Psych adaptation, Dual Spires.
Juliet O'Hara is Lassie's partner for most of the series. Shawn immediately falls for her and she eventually comes around to liking him. The will they-won't they echos that of Ross and Rachel on Friends. Except, in my opinion, Psych handles it much better. Shawn calls Juliet Jules, which is why their ship name is Shules. They are endgame.
Jules: Great. You love your motorcycle. Is there a point to this?
Shawn: My point is, since I met you, I've been thinking about getting a car.
You think I don't want her to be happy? I want her to be happy. But-serious Shawn moment here-I want to be happy too, and for some reason, I can't imagine that happening without Juliet.
Jules: Maybe the best things, the richest things, aren't supposed to come easily.
This is the ship name for Shawn and Lassie. They start off kind of hating each other, Lassie more so than Shawn. Lassie gradually warms up to Shawn, and they have some sweet (platonic) moments.
Lassie: I thought I told you no.
Shawn: But your eyes said yes.
Lassie: Are you in my apartment?
Shawn: Please. I haven't snuck into your apartment in weeks. Which reminds me, we're all out of peanut butter.
Shawn (to Lassie): You're a striking man with strong features, eyes that women wanna do cannonballs into. You have great posture and penmanship the likes I've never seen.
Lassie (drunk): Listen, there is something I have got to get off my chest.
Shawn: Is it your shirt? Please say no.
Lassie: You astound me.
Shawn: Come again?
Lassie: It's beyond astounding. It is some of the most impressive reasoning I've ever seen.
Shawn: Is there a punchline coming? Let's get to it.
Lassie: I don't know how you do it. I mean it's not psychic-ness. I mean we both know that's a crock of crap. You, sir, are unstoppable. Guaranteed arrests.
7) Psychic Episodes
Shawn's first episode in the pilot
Shawn decided early on that when he was revealing the information he gathered to the police, he would make it look like he divined it during a psychic episode. These episodes are usually over-the-top, silly, and nonsensical. Shawn spins, dances, and just generally acts like he has lost control of his body. He spits out jumbled details that he later has to fit together. It's a very entertaining form of information delivery. You can watch my favorite psychic episode here.
8) The Musical
Psych: The Musical came out in 2013. The actors were able to show off their singing and dancing talents (Dule Hill is also a Broadway actor), which they did themselves. Their voices were all really good! They didn't sacrifice the storyline by adding the songs, though. They were original, funny, and plot-centered. The whole movie was in classic Psych style.
The opening song, Santa Barbara Skies, was especially good. Here are some of the lyrics:
Shawn: A cop I am not. I'm just good at observation. But with shortcuts-
Gus: And cons
Shawn: And the proper presentation, they believe that I can raise a finger to my head. See the past, read a mind, and can mingle with the dead. And sure, my girl's deceived, but that web's already weaved. Woven? Weavied? Woved! The key is that I'm in too deep to turn back now, so I tell these lies under Santa Barbara skies.
9) The Characters
The characters are lovable, entertaining, well-developed, and sympathetic.
Shawn Spencer: "An eccentric who looks good in jeans" (he's not wrong). Fake psychic. Real detective. He has a heightened sense of observation that allows him to see things others might miss. He loves to tell jokes and mess around.
Burton "Gus" Guster: A pharmaceutical rep who moonlights at a psychic detective agency. He possesses a "super sniffer" that allows him to pick up scents others might miss. He's the angel on Shawn's shoulder. The voice of reason. The brains of the operation.
Carlton "Lassie" Lassiter: The head detective of the SBPD. He's all business. He likes his gun and his car. He dislikes squirrels and snow globes. Often referred to as robotic.
Juliet O'Hara: A junior detective for the SBPD. She's eager and enthusiastic about her job. Rocks pantsuits. Closet badass. She's kind-hearted and has a soft spot for Shawn. Would take a bullet for almost anyone.
10) Infinitely Quotable and Entirely Unforgettable
I could list a multitude of quotes, but I'd rather let you experience them yourself by watching Psych. You'll develop your own memory bank of Psych quotes in no time. They work in almost any situation, even without context.
Psych has been off the air for almost 5 years, but it's still fresh in my mind. That's partially because they made a movie in 2017 and are releasing another one late this year. But it's mostly because I love rewatching all the episodes. I didn't watch Psych as it aired. I watched reruns on TV late on Saturday nights. Then I bought the series on DVD as it was released.
Even when I go a while without watching Psych, I still think about it. Certain things remind me of a specific episode or joke. I don't think I'll ever get tired of rewatching it. I've already seen almost every episode probably a half a dozen times. It's got everything I need: action, romance, comedy, mystery, drama.
I hope you come to love it as much as I do.
Gus: Psych? As in "gotcha?"
Shawn: Or as in "psychic."
Gus: You named your fake detective agency Psych? Why don't you just name it, "Hey, we're fooling you and the Police Department. Hope we don't make a mistake and someone dies because of it."?
Shawn: First of all, Gus, that name is entirely too long. It would never fit on the window. And secondly, the best way to convince people you're not lying to them is to tell them you are.