I grew up watching numerous network TV shows over my mother’s shoulder — “Gilmore Girls,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Monk,” to name a few — which are now a thing of the past. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max are gold mines of my old favorite shows, for better and for worse. They are modern time capsules, undug and perpetually in reach of audiences young and old.
Like time capsules, streaming services are stocked with items that are products of their time; however, because these items (TV shows and movies) are readily available, we can forget that they’re from another era, another period — and this can cause problems.
An article titled “Questionable Things We Ignored in Gilmore Girls” showcases this phenomenon — “Between romanticizing toxic relationships, glamorizing eating disorders, brushing over social critical issues, and failing to offer proper representation for multiple groups, ‘Gilmore Girls’ is both a product of its time — and way behind in many cases.”
It’s the final phrase that interests me — calling “Gilmore Girls” “way behind” as if it were produced in the time the article was written. Streaming services provide us the opportunity to watch dated shows as if they are products of the present, which frequently does not play out well for shows viewers once adored.
Few shows housed in streaming time capsules have aged well, but one that hasn’t disappointed me yet is “Psych.”
“Psych” is a show that follows Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriguez, “A Million Little Things”) and Burton Guster (Dulé Hill, “The Wonder Years”) (Gus), two best friends who work together to solve crimes for the Santa Barbara Police Department. Shawn, the son of renowned cop Henry Spencer, has excellent detective capabilities and instincts due to his upbringing. It’s his predictive skills, though, that place him under suspicion at the police station, where he’s weighed in on numerous cases. He makes a quick decision that sets in motion the following eight seasons of the show and tells the police department he’s psychic.
Immediately after confessing his “psychic powers,” Shawn makes his way to Gus’s office, telling him he’s got the gig they always dreamed about — solving murders (among other crimes). Gus, though initially not on board, proves himself necessary to the detective work, and the two later start their own detective agency: Psych.
Their friendship is how the show begins, and how it ends — and why, I think, it has held up all these years.
“Psych” is wholesome at its core because it’s founded on a tried and true friendship. Though it can be said (and should be said, to be completely honest) that Shawn isn’t the best friend a person could have — as it is pointed out many times throughout the series how Gus pays for his bills — the two men bring out the best in each other. Yes, they poke fun at each other, but they also break into hostage situations to save each other. They’re each other’s biggest fans and hardest critics. They’re each other’s strengths, and each other’s weaknesses.
“Psych” manages to avoid common pitfalls of other shows — poor character development, problematic storylines, controversial language — by centering a dynamic rooted in love and goodwill.
My favorite episode of the series is episode 11 of season seven, “Office Space,” which begins with Gus desperately knocking at Shawn’s door. He’s in need of Shawn’s help after he accidentally disrupts a crime scene, but when he brings Shawn there, Shawn, too, messes it up in typical “Psych” fashion. Their hilarious dynamic is put front and center as the events of the episode unfold, and it demonstrates their incomparable teamwork and commitment to each other.
I have “Psych” to thank for many of my personal friendships; it was through discovering a mutual love of the show that I made my first friends in high school and how I found some of my best friends at the University of Michigan. Anyone who can harmonize “Suck it!” or “Come on son” me to death is someone I know can trust, someone I know I can laugh with.
Every time I rewatch “Psych,” I’m met with harmless humor and wholesome storylines, but perhaps most importantly, I’m reminded of the friends I’ve made and the memories we share because of how “Psych” brought us together. When I see Shawn and Gus split a beard as part of their disguise — literally — I remember the time my best friend in high school and I did the same for a school spirit day. When I laugh at Gus and his 11-point turns, I can hear my friends laughing at me as I warn them, “I need to pull a Gus.”
Any art has the potential and power to bring people together. But art like “Psych” that showcases devotion and companionship goes further than that — it not only brings us together, but keeps us together. It stands the test of time, allowing friendships to blossom and people to bond for years to come.
Shawn and Gus are far from perfect, but their on-screen friendship is as good as it gets. Here’s to my favorite duo and to my favorite show that I’ll binge-watch now and forever.
Daily Arts Writer Lillian Pearce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.