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Poker Face

Poker Face season 1

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

Being a human lie detector isn’t exactly a skill you can put on a resumé. But Charlie Cale has made a reputation by being just that.

Several years back, she used her ability to call people’s bluffs to win a series of poker games. It’s not technically illegal (then again, neither is counting cards), but if a casino owner catches you doing it, you may find yourself with a few broken fingers.

Charlie got lucky when she got caught. Instead of breaking her fingers, Sterling Frost Sr. offered her a job at his casino as a cocktail waitress. He also informed every casino and high roller in the gambling loop that she played dirty, preventing her from ever playing again.

Charlie was just fine with that. After all, she never figured it would last forever. She just wanted to have some fun while it did.

What Charlie’s not fine with, however, is murder.

Can’t Read My Poker Face

When Natalie Hill, Charlie’s best friend, went to clean the room of Mr. Caine, the Frost Casino’s largest “whale” (someone who spends about the equivalent of a small island in a single weekend without so much as flinch), she was shocked by what she saw.

We don’t see it on screen, but what Nat spots on Caine’s laptop is bad. So bad, in fact, that Natalie quickly snaps a photo with her phone and flees the room to report it.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t go to the police. She goes to the casino’s acting manager, Sterling Frost Jr.

Frost Jr. sends Natalie home and promises her that he’ll take care of the matter. Of course, what he really means is that he’ll have his head of security, Cliff, go to her house and kill both her and her husband, Jerry, framing it as a murder-suicide.

It would’ve been the perfect crime if they hadn’t overlooked Charlie’s relationship with Natalie.

See, Charlie doesn’t buy that Natalie was killed by her husband. Sure, the guy was an abusive alcoholic who was most likely cheating on her. He had even confronted her at the casino that day before getting thrown out by security. But the story didn’t line up.

For starters, Jerry’s gun had been confiscated by Cliff earlier that same day. Then there’s the fact that Jerry was left-handed, but the gun was found in his right hand. And finally, Charlie caught Frost Jr. in a lie.

For her, that’s evidence enough. But she’ll need more than her instincts to prove it to the police. Moreover, she’ll have to find it while on the run, since Frost Sr. is out for blood.

Terrible Odds

If Peacock was betting on a good Plugged In review of this show, they’d swiftly lose it all. Yes, the storyline is intriguing, the writing is clever and the acting is spot-on. But the content? Ooph!

Language reaches upwards of two dozen f-bombs in the first episode alone (and that’s not including abuses of God’s name or other profanities).

Violence is the next obvious issue. Again, in the first episode alone, a suicide is shown on screen (we don’t see the body, but it’s still pretty shocking), a woman and her husband are brutally murdered and another woman is shot. Furthermore, it’s presumed that a man’s laptop contained child pornography.

It should also be noted that Charlie stumbles across multiple photos of a man’s genitals, and we see these pictures on screen.

All this leads me to believe that this show’s not in the cards for family viewing.

Episode Reviews

Jan. 26, 2023 – S1, Ep1: “Dead Man’s Hand”

After her best friend is murdered, Charlie searches for the truth using her unique ability to tell whenever someone is lying.

Someone dies by suicide. Natalie and her husband are both killed with a gun (and there is a slight struggle between the killer and the husband). Their deaths are framed to look like a murder-suicide since the husband was abusive. (In a previous scene, Nat had shown up to work with a black eye, given to her by her husband.) Charlie is shot. People issue death threats. A man is forcefully removed from a casino after causing a scene. Someone drives recklessly.

Charlie reads a news story about a child pornography ring involving the dark web. When Natalie finds an obscene photo on a guest’s laptop (unseen by the viewer), she takes a picture and reports it to her boss. (It can be assumed this is linked to the story Charlie read.) However, her boss deletes the photo and attempts to cover it up.

Natalie talks about finding several pictures of her husband’s genitals on his phone, suspecting that he has sent these to another woman. Later, Charlie (and the audience) sees these pictures on a tablet. Some women wear revealing outfits. A man talks about selling pornographic magazines. Charlie reads an article containing graphic details about sodomy.

People drink and smoke cigars and cigarettes. Charlie often drinks while working. Natalie’s husband arrives at the casino heavily inebriated. When Charlie starts acting erratically after drinking coffee, someone asks if she is using cocaine.

People lie. (And in a poignant observation, Charlie remarks that while she can detect a lie, she can’t detect the motive behind it, which can sometimes be even more nefarious than the lie itself.) People gamble at a casino and some people cheat. We hear about theft. A woman says she can’t divorce her abusive husband because she can’t afford to live alone. Charlie breaks into Natalie’s house (which has been locked up as a crime scene) to obtain evidence. A man uses his resources to manipulate police.

We hear 25 uses of the f-word and 30 of the s-word. There are also multiple uses of “a–,” “a–hole,” “b–tard,” “b–ch,” “d–mit,” “d–k,” “h—” and “p-ss.” God’s name is abused a dozen times, sometimes paired with “d–mit.” Christ’s name is abused once.

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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