“Knives Out” creator Rian Johnson Has a New Show, and You Want to Watch It By Evelyn Braker


Photo Courtesy of Paramount

Evelyn Braker '25, Staff Writer

When I saw “Knives Out” during my 2019 Thanksgiving break with my conservative grandmother (note the included class and race commentary), I think my life changed a little. I even wrote a philosophy paper in my first semester at Dickinson about the beauty of the movie. Even though the paper was unsuccessful, “Knives Out” secured my spot as one of many Rian Johnson fans. 


This is all to say that I had high expectations for Johnson’s first show, “Poker Face.” The show stars Natasha Lyonne, most recognizable from her lead role in the 1999 cult classic “But I’m a Cheerleader.” Each episode follows a new story where Lyonne’s character Charlie Cale is met with a new mystery to solve. 

What makes Charlie unique is her special ability to detect when someone is lying. In true Rian Johnson fashion, the viewer learns about the crime and perpetrator at the beginning of the episode. What keeps us watching is the layered story that unfurls as Charlie Cale’s watchful eye (and literal trait of being a human lie detector) catches anyone that steps out of line. The first episode premiered on Jan. 26 on Peacock, with new episodes releasing every Thursday since. The season finale comes out on March 9 and the show has been renewed for a second season.

“Poker Face” lives up to expectations. It has a notably dazzling critic’s score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is also just so Rian Johnson. The camerawork is a character in and of itself: swift dolly shots take us into dramatic close-ups of suspects. Viewers are left on the edge of their seats when the camera withholds information, only focusing on an absurdly dramatic reaction from the subject. 

Natasha Lyonne’s acting contributes hugely to the feel of the show. She’s cool and playful, but also resourceful and sincere. Her outfits scream “let’s take a ride on my motorcycle and talk about our horoscopes,” if that makes any sense. And, it must be noted that her voice is a joy to listen to; the thick, gravely New York accent adds to her character exquisitely.

One of the most beloved elements of “Knives Out” is its epic setting of Harlan Thrombey’s estate and “Poker Face” features sets just as unique and immersive, though not fixed in one location across the series. It’s overall visually pleasing: turquoise walls contrasting rich wooden furniture and 80s-style sets merge seamlessly with montages of Las Vegas nightlife and poker tables. 

Johnson not only directed but also wrote “Poker Face,” evident in its quick wit and well-placed breadcrumbs. The way he writes his characters is entertaining in their complex relationships and odd quirks. 

Rian Johnson has never and will never let me down. I’m convinced. I urge you to watch his scene breakdowns on Vanity Fair’s YouTube channel — he will get you almost as giddily excited about the production of it all as he is.