When lifelong best friends Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill) stumbled into crime solving, they had no clue that their detective agency, Psych, would cause such a scene. With Shawn’s fake psychic sleuthing and sidekick Gus’ nose for clues, the unlikely duo tackled countless murders and mysteries, from the weirdly wacky to the daringly dangerous. “You know that’s right!”
Lazy, stuck-in-the-80s beach bum Shawn Spencer beats an accidental criminal charge by claiming to be psychic. Trained by his detective father to be hyper-observant, Shawn passes off his intense attention to detail as paranormal visions, and soon finds himself hired as a consultant for the Santa Barbara Police Department. Partnering with his childhood best friend Gus, the pair soon open the ‘Psych’ detective agency, solving cases too bizarre for the regular police.
James Roday as Shawn Spencer
Trained by his police detective father to notice every detail in any situation, Shawn picks up on clues the less-observant miss (wait for the musical sting and the closeup of the crime scene). Loutish, obnoxious, self-centered, and crude, Shawn’s unorthodox methods do get results. Passing himself off as a psychic gives him a chance to overact, speak in tongues, channel the dead, and make many, many pop culture references. He’ll go to the ends of the earth to protect his friends, but only if he can play a cruel prank on them at the same time.
Dulé Hill as Burton ‘Gus’ Guster
The former West Wing star makes his comedy debut as Gus, Shawn’s best friend and business partner. A pharmaceutical salesman by day, he begrudgingly helps Shawn with his cases. Nerdy, paranoid, and somewhat cowardly, Gus’s intelligence, trivia knowledge, and ‘super sniffer’ often bring Shawn back to earth. He drives a powder blue Toyota Echo, and is willing to adopt whatever persona Shawn randomly chooses for him (Gus sometimes turns the tables). A magnet for crazy women, Gus plays the Shaggy to Shawn’s Velma.
Timothy Omundson as Detective Carlton Lassiter
Utterly humorless and absolutely by the book, Lassiter met Shawn when he arrested him as a suspect in a crime, inspiring him to first fake his psychic abilities as an alibi. Lassiter detests Shawn’s disrespect, flamboyant nature, and crime solving ability. He resents how Shawn and Gus often give him credit for their detective work, but he secretly considers them…well, not friends. People he knows. The former Galivant and Supernatural star suffered a stroke after the show went off the air and unfortunately could only make a cameo appearance in the movie.
Maggie Lawson as Detective Juliet O’Hara
Lassiter’s junior partner, O’Hara plays good cop to Carlton’s obnoxious cop. A real people person (and slightly naive), she instantly catches the eye of Shawn. Initially repelled by the annoying paranormal detective, they eventually develop an on again, off again relationship. This gives Shawn a moral crisis, as by this time, she honestly believes in his abilities.
Kirsten Nelson as Chief Karen Vick
The Chief of Police, Vick begrudgingly hires Shawn when the regular detectives are stumped. Annoyed with his strange methods, she still finds him slightly easier to work with than Lassiter. Vick gave birth to her television daughter the same month my wife gave birth to our daughter, Sophie. Vick’s husband is one of the great unseen characters on television.
Corbin Bernsen as Detective Henry Spencer (retired)
The former L.A. Law star appears as Shawn’s disappointed father. The elder Spencer once had high hopes that his son would grow up to be a police detective like him. Each episode opens with Henry giving a young Shawn (and often, a young Gus), lessons in deduction and observation. The father and son became estranged when a teenage Shawn was busted for joyriding, but they’ve since patched things up. Henry is disgusted with Shawn’s slipshod investigation, but has to admit that he does, eventually, get the job done.
The restoration of Bersen’s hairline during the flashbacks is a tribute to the skills of the makeup department.
Kurt Fuller as Coroner Woody Strode
Everyone’s favorite toadying lackey appears as the show’s coroner. Obsessed with the dead, socially awkward, and possibly insane, he’s willing to bend the rules to help Shawn and Gus (who, in turn, often have to go to bat for Woody to keep him from being fired).
Also, many cameo appearances by great stars of the past: Ernie Banks and Phylicia Rashad as Gus’s parents, Justine Bateman as Lassiter’s ex wife, and my own 80s crush, Cybill Sheperd, as Shawn’s mother.
Couch Sharing Capability: Yum, Yum!
Order some burgers from Red Robin, break open a bag of delicious Schneider Pretzels, and treat yourself to a Clark Bar for desert while watching. This show, incidentally, has a lot of product placement.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Drinking Game
Take a drink every time Shawn or Gus makes a reference to 1980s pop culture and you’ll be as wasted as, um…Marion Ravenwood was at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
But you might want to cool it. This is a mystery show, after all, and you can solve the crime ahead of Shawn, if you’re observant enough.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Beat the Rerun Blahs
This is a good show to binge watch, when you need something a little fluffy to relax. Not only did the series inspire a movie, but a musical, a Bollywood episode, a telenovela episode, a ‘Clue’ episode, and more. Also, try to find the pineapple hidden in every episode.