Rian Johnson & Natasha Lyonne’s ‘Poker Face’ Is a Murderous Good Time

The first season of the Peacock mystery series, premiering Jan. 26, evokes feelings of Columbo and features a dynamite performance from Natasha Lyonne.

Poker Face Review Peacock

Image via NBC/Peacock

Poker Face Review Peacock

Rian Johnson is a cinematic archaeologist. From his debut film, Brick, all the way through The Last Jedi and both Knives Out films, Johnson’s displayed a certain penchant for digging up the past and reshaping it for the future as he sees fit. Brick took film noir tropes and graphed them into a coming-of-age story set in a Breakfast Club–like high school. Last Jedi took the Skywalker legacy and jettisoned it to let new characters find and define their stories. Now, with his new series Poker Face, he’s looking to excavate both an old genre and a beloved format, all in one go.

View this video on YouTube


Launching Thursday, Jan. 26 on Peacock, the show follows the adventures of Natasha Lyonne’s Charlie Cale, who has an innate ability to tell when someone is lying. It’s not a very useful skill, as she explains in the premiere because everyone lies. But she’s more specifically good at discerning why someone would lie about a specific thing. That skill set was extremely helpful for Cale’s original hustle as a poker player until the head of a casino, Ron Pearlman’s Sterling Frost, figured out her grift. Now, Charlie spends her days as a cocktail waitress in that same casino under the supervision of Frost’s prodigal son, Sterling Jr. (Adrien Brody). 

Johnson actually built the series around Lyonne after he dug into old Columbo episodes throughout the early days of the pandemic. And like Columbo, Poker Face’s mystery structure—the first act of an episode details the who, what, when, where, and why of a murder before someone begins their investigation into the events—lends itself well to episodic television. Even better if your series is fronted by a deeply charismatic lead whom audiences want to hang out with week after week.

Poker Face Peacock Season 1 Review
Poker Face Peacock Season 1 Review

Sign up for PeacockPeacock logo to stream NBCU shows

Latest in Pop Culture