3 Things That Made Psych an Amazing Show

The date is July 21, 2010. I am in New York City, one of the greatest cities in the world. Every type of food imaginable, museums galore, and history that puts most cities to shame is available to me at a moment’s notice. I have a room at the New York Marriott Marquis, located right in the middle of Times Square. I can do whatever I want, but there I am in the hotel room, with my parents, watching Burton Guster and Detective Carlton Lassiter tap dance to Nas & Damien Marley’s “As We Enter.” It turned out to be a fantastic decision. For a few years my parents had told me that I would “really like Psych” or “you need to watch Psych.” Fellow Attention Lander Aaron swears he started telling me about the greatness of Psych way back in 1972, but I just wouldn’t listen (he’s right. I never did.). After watching Episode 2 of Season 6, I was hooked. I immediately texted Aaron about how great Psych is, and he immediately texted me back “yeah I know I’ve been telling you for years.” I then spend the next few months furiously watching every previous episode multiple times. Tonight, Psych comes to an end. I haven’t watched the finale and I already miss it terribly. It is/was an amazing show, and it seemed to come out of nowhere. What made it so amazing? Let’s discuss the following three things.

1. It Wasn’t Scrubs

I watched every episode of Scrubs. I loved Scrubs. Scrubs was brilliant television. The best part about Psych was that it wasn’t Scrubs. If you are not familiar with Scrubs, it was a show about a young doctor, John Dorian (JD), and all the adventures he would have inside of a hospital while also trying to become legitimate in his field. He is joined by many colorful characters, including his lifelong friend and surgeon Chris Turk (known exclusively as Turk). JD and Turk had an inter-racial, heterosexual bromance so deep that I’m not sure any other bromance could ever compare. Sometimes two people joke “if we’re not married by 35 we should just marry each other!” It always felt like JD and Turk would have made that agreement and kept amending it to “ok, 33” “ok, 30.” I don’t remember seeing anything like it, and I loved it. Shawn and Gus could have easily fell into that inter-racial, heterosexual bromance category, but they didn’t. They didn’t come close. They were the cool kids on the block who had a tree house located down that dirt path your parents only allowed you to go down every now and then, and you have no idea how they got it but you needed to be in that tree house. Every single episode was one giant inside joke that you felt like you were a part of also. JD and Turk did everything for the amusement of the other, Shawn and Gus did everything to amuse themselves knowing the other would be on board just because they would be. Both pairs needed each other. JD needed Turk because Turk completed JD, even to the point where JD would diagnose and then Turk would operate. JD and Turk would finish each other’s sentences, they would dress up wacky together, and they could hardly be separated for any longer than 3 “television minutes” at a time. Shawn needed Gus because even though Shawn could function in his own mind by himself and be perfectly fine, he needed Gus to be there because if no one else “gets it”, Gus will. Gus might not like it, he might be Shawn’s conscious, but Gus would also be there to be goofy as Shawn needed him to be. Gus needed Shawn because without Shawn Gus would be locked in an office all day staring at the walls. Gus was Shawn’s connection to reality, and Shawn was Gus’s connection to fantasy.

2. The Use of Curt Smith (and the Rest)

When did Psych ever have a blow you away, how did they get him type of guest star? They didn’t. (Yes, I know they had William Shatner and Jeffrey Tambor, and as much as I like them I would not consider them blow you away, how did they get him type of guest stars.) They had Curt Smith, and they were incredibly proud of that. Curt Smith, is one of the founding members of 1980s band Tears for Fears. If you haven’t heard of them, look them up because they are good and you’ve heard a bunch of their songs. I don’t say that to pick on Curt Smith, but to point out that they embraced entertainment nostalgia. Remember, Shawn and Gus are the cool kids in the treehouse. Curt Smith is in their treehouse and if you don’t know who he is it’s not their problem because you aren’t in the treehouse. The cast of Twin Peaks, Jaleel White, Ally Sheedy, Ralph Macchio, and Ed Lover were all VIPs with exclusive access to their treehouse. All faces from the past that you remember, and even though they don’t blow you away, they are incredibly fun to watch work again. In my opinion, Cary Elwes was their biggest guest star, and how many of the kids know who he is these days? The Princess Bride, Robin Hood Men in Tights, and Saw are all American classics though.  Sure, they may not have had access to big time guests, but even if they did would they care? It’s almost like creator Steve Franks sat down with a list of random nostalgic television characters and said “I want ‘em!” After all, Psych is a show about a fake psychic detective who is about as crazy as it gets, so it’s much more believable that he hangs out with Curt Smith and not Jerry Seinfeld.

3. It Took Chances

Whether it was throwback episodes, theme episodes, an episode that is a re-do of an episode from an earlier season, Psych loved to take chances. Some of those chances were frustrating. Some of those chances might not have paid off, in some opinions, but they were ballsy enough to try. Aaron and I were talking a few weeks ago how since this is the last season they can’t afford to have throw away episodes. Sure, that was a conversation between two people who wish the show would stay around forever, but then I realized one important fact. Psych was going to be Psych until the very end. They aren’t going to change what they did and how they did it just because the clock was ticking. It would not be fair to everyone who invested 8 years of their television lives with this show if they gave them a final season full of cookie cutter episodes. Yes, it can be upsetting when the final season has one or two imperfect episodes, but striving for mindless perfection wouldn’t be Psych! Plus, with all the uproar The Sopranos and Dexter got (unfairly, in my opinion, maybe I’ll post about that topic one day), why wouldn’t Psych be content with just sticking to the tried and true plan of attack? Don’t leave them wanting answers, just leave them wanting more.

4. Juliet O’Hara

Ok, I snuck a fourth one in there. I will miss Juliet O’Hara. I watched “Back in the Game” on ABC only because she was on it. I knew it would be bad and not last long, but I watched anyways. Juliet O’Hara would catch the bad guys and be adorable while doing so. She somehow managed to put up with Shawn and Carlton Lassiter, and nobody disliked her ever, because you don’t ever dislike Juliet O’Hara!  I would watch a Juliet O’Hara spin off.

I’m not sure when I will watch the series finale. I wish Psych didn’t have to go but maybe it is for the best. It is better to go out while still rolling, then go out when you have to be pushed. There will be other television shows, they come and they go, but who knows if there will be another one that made me giggle quite like Psych.