Poker Face - a reverse detective with a live lie detector. Analysis of the series.

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015 she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod,, after which she created a course called "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" based on it. Over 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by education, she quickly masters new areas. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in movies/serials, and writes about it in her project's blog.
Pokerface is one of the best TV series that came out in 2023, if not even the coolest of them all. It tells the story of a girl Charlie Kale, who works in gambling and can always tell a lie from the truth. And she can't understand what exactly is wrong, she only identifies the very moment of deceit and denotes it with the catchphrase Bullshit.
Charlie is played by Natasha Lyonne, known for "Orange is the New Black" and "Matryoshka doll". Here she parricipated not only as an actress, but also as a co-creator of the project, even directing one series. Well, the actual director of the series is Ryan Johnson, who gave us two beautiful series of detective "Knives Out".

"Pokerface" is a so-called reverse detective. In the first act, we see the crime, the criminal, his motive and attempts to cover his tracks, and then, in the second act, there is the so-called process "Once more, with clarity" - we again see the same events, but now it turns out that all this time in them was our heroine Charlie. And the main interest is not who committed the crime, we already know that, but how Charlie will guess, what clues life will give her.

As director Rian Johnson said, the fun of a detective story is not in guessing who the killer is. It's about watching how our detective unravels the case. And so, in the spirit of the Columbo series, Charlie encounters one story and another.

The situation is complicated by the fact that she can't turn in criminals to the police: she herself is hiding from the pursuit of gansters after a case from the first series. Thus, "Pokerface" is also a road-movie, where each episode is a new American city in which our "Case of the Week" happens.
Charlie can't use his phone and credit card to avoid being discovered, and it brings a bit of an old-school flair to the narrative. The style itself - Schizo Tech - is a combination of modernity and 70s aesthetics, where we have the action taking place in like 2023, but all the elements and atmosphere seem to take us back 50 years. Did you notice that?

Criminals kill mostly good people. We have only three asshole victims - victims who were not even that good themselves: in the first series, the last one, and in the one with cars. This, by the way, is another thing: all episodes except the first and the last are complete stories with their own characters, and you can watch them in any sequence, as independent films.

What else interesting things do we see in the story?

  • Bookends trope - the story ends at the same point where it began
  • "Bullshit" is a catchphrase that Charlie utters constantly.
  • Very colourful types Cool Old Ladies in a series with a nursing home
  • And the trope Cool Car we see in two episodes
  • The technique of having a character spend the entire show running somewhere is called Fugitive Arc
  • Note that very often the scriptwriters lead us first to one guess, and then it turns out that the case was completely different! For example, as in the racing episode.
  • Charlie herself is both a Doom magnet, attracting death, and a Living Lie Detector, like Martha from "Knives Out"
In general, I definitely recommend the series! Such a sparkling humour, beautiful picture and original plot still need to be found. Both you and your sweetheart will like it.