Poker Face reviews are in – and critics are loving Rian Johnson's latest foray into the murdery mystery genre following Knives Out and its sequel Glass Onion.
The show stars Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale, who works in a casino and has a very unusual ability: she can tell when anyone is lying. Some trouble in the premiere means she has to go on the run, which opens the way for an episodic, case of the week style show.
Critics so far are bowled over by Poker Face, praising Lyonne, the guest stars, and the structure, although there are some comments on pacing problems. Plus, those Columbo comparisons come in thick and fast.
We've rounded up a selection of critical responses below, so you can check out exactly what the prevailing opinion is on the new show. And don't worry, the below is totally spoiler free, so you can read before you start watching.
GamesRadar+ – Lauren Milici – 4/5
"Poker Face is a modern throwback of a genre we haven't seen since the '90s. Sure, Knives Out's Benoit Blanc is an icon in his own right, but Charlie Cale is the relatable hero we've all been waiting for. Each episode pits her against a brand new guest star, and God only knows what other horrors she'll encounter while on the run. We're off to a great start for what's sure to be one hell of a ride."
Variety (opens in new tab) – Daniel D'Addario
"Which makes Poker Face a double pleasure – a road narrative with different characters cropping up all the time, with a backbone made up of Lyonne's clever performance and the threat of violence she's just barely outsmarting. Surely one of the strongest series yet to launch on Peacock, this streaming drama feels like the best sort of vintage, comfortably spread-out TV. This elegant set of mystery stories allows an established star the time and space to crack a new sort of case, that of how to evolve a familiar persona and bring fans along for the ride."
The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) – Daniel Fienberg
"In some of the six episodes sent to critics, the pacing is a bit off, and the show's best resource – a magnificently skeptical Lyonne – is almost underused. In the balance, the show is a fun romp featuring great guest stars and some carefully detailed puzzles. It's a whodunit fan's delight – for TV mystery fans, by TV mystery fans."
Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab) – Darren Franich – A
"Natasha Lyonne comes off like the last pack of cigarettes in a world of vape pens. She leads Peacock's snazzy new series Poker Face as Charlie Cale, a casino waitress who drinks on the job and before the job. It's charming because it's Lyonne: ashy voice, molten hair, general affect of a kid who wants to be a crazy old coot. Charlie's going nowhere so slow her car won't start. Then the weekly mystery (debuting Thursday) sends her everywhere fast. She becomes an amateur detective solving perfect murders across a nation of guest stars. Poker Face rehumanizes and re-weirds TV crime, carving a third way between network franchises and prestige gloom."
Rolling Stone (opens in new tab) – Alan Sepinwall
"That said, because shows like Poker Face have become so rare – or, at least, ones like it that are also executed this well – there is a risk of wildly overpraising it. Like any episodic drama, some episodes are stronger than others, particularly in the Lyonne-free opening sequences. The fifth episode, for instance, features Judith Light and S. Epatha Merkerson as former Seventies revolutionaries who are now the two toughest, meanest broads at their retirement community; the combination of that premise and these great veteran actors is so strong, I almost forgot I was waiting for Charlie. But the second episode, involving a trio of people working the night shift at shops next to a truck stop, really only takes off once that familiar mop of strawberry blonde hair comes into view. And even when she turns up, the flashback segments may occasionally leave you impatient to get to the part where Charlie begins poking holes in the killer's story."
IGN (opens in new tab) – Samantha Nelson – 8/10
"Rian Johnson and Natasha Lyonne have brilliantly recreated Columbo's howcatchem formula in the first four episodes of Poker Face. The mystery-of-the-week show is packed with quirky characters, humor with a bit of bite, and excellent performances from Lyonne and the murderers she must puzzle out how to bring to justice."
Collider (opens in new tab) – Maggie Lovitt – A
"Poker Face is another royal flush for Johnson, proving once again that he's the maestro of modern mysteries. Columbo, you’ll always be famous, but Charlie Cale is about to give you a run for your money. This series has everything – from a killer cast, deliciously clever dialogue, smartly delivered mysteries, and a creative team to die for. Peacock, it's time to up the ante and bet on this series' success. Poker Face has the potential to not only become the best series of 2023 but also inspire the industry to see the benefit of episodic storytelling that draws audiences into the glorious, nostalgia-filled realm of howcatchems again."
Four episodes of Poker Face are streaming on Peacock now, with a new episode to follow weekly. You can fill out your watchlist with our guide to the best Netflix shows streaming now.