Throwback Thursday: Psych

Psych. Where to begin with Psych. This show is fandom heaven. The gags, the actor’s involvement, the contests, the Fan Appreciation days, the running jokes, the guest stars, the homage episodes, the musical. This is the kind of fandom that every fan dreams of having one day. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Psych aired 8 seasons and 121 episodes from 2006 to 2014.  The show focuses on Shawn Spencer, fake psychic detective,  and Burton “Gus” Guster, best friend and unwilling (sometimes willing) pawn in Shawn’s antics. Shawn’s father, Henry, was a police officer who raised Shawn to be hyper vigilant with keen observation and deductive skills. Think Sherlock Holmes with a major case of ADHD and a diet of pixie sticks and soda.

Shawn hit a rebellious streak in his teenage years that probably is still going on, and has had 57 jobs since graduation instead of the police force work his father set out for him. As an adult, Shawn takes to calling in tips to the Crime Hotline after watching the News and spotting tells/clues. He ends up being called in to the station where he is accused of being an accessory to the crimes, even though he tells them the truth. As a last resort to avoid being arrested, he lies and says he is psychic by using some of the clues he picked up while observing the station. The interim police chief asks him for help on a kidnapping and tells him that if it ever comes out that he is lying, he will be prosecuted.

With no choice but to keep up the pretense, Shawn enlists his childhood best friend to be his partner as consultants to the police, even though Gus already has a job as a Pharmaceutical Representative. Shawn uses the psychic pretense to live out every childhood dream he has ever had (except for riding a dolphin. That one sadly never comes to fruition), much to the chagrin of Head Detective Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter and bemusement of Junior Detective Juliet “Jules” O’Hara.

Now that we’ve covered the plot of the show, let’s talk how this show managed to create one of the best fandoms in tv history.

The gags/running jokes: The cast had such a bond that you immediately knew that they genuinely were a family on set. You only have to watch one episode to see this. This level of camaraderie and friendship lead to them constantly goofing off on set. Just watch this 2 and a half hour video of all the psych outs and bloopers. Psych outs are what the network called the bloopers that were shown at the end of every episode beginning season 2 or 3. The cast ended up having running gags that were soon written into the show. One of the most famous of these  was between James Roday and Dule Hill (Shawn and Gus respectively), and is only two words: Suck It. Fans to this day still say Suck It as a reply to pretty much everything. We also have the running gags of Gus’s fake names, “Gus don’t be a …”, “I’ve heard it both ways”, and “have you heard about Pluto?”. Of course we can’t forget the most important one. The pineapple.

The pineapple: While the pineapple is a running joke/gag, it deserves it’s own paragraph. It started out in the first episode as an ad-lib of Shawn asking Gus if they could split a pineapple in the car. The ad-lib was left in, and the cast and fans loved it. Almost every single episode has a pineapple in it, be it an actual pineapple, pineapple upside down cake, pineapple statues, or just an image on a water bottle label. It even became a fandom game called “spot the pineapple” and was used as a contest on the networks site to win prizes and props. It is such an icon that almost every piece of merchandise has a pineapple on it. *If you want to know where every pineapple is, check out this website.

The cast/network involvement: This show was one of the first shows to have the cast live tweet episodes and interact with fans online during the broadcast. They had myspace pages for every main character, and used fans as the top 8 friends. During hiatuses, countdown calendars were posted by the network and each day would reveal a clip, a trailer, character resumes, behind the scenes pictures, etc. The network ran contests to find the biggest fans and would give them shout outs during the show. Leading up to season 6, they even had a Psych Fan Appreciation day. It was a comic con just for Psych and included watching the premiere, a Q&A, on stage competitions between the fans, and the cast singing random songs (they do this all the time. It’s pretty much 25% of the bloopers and the inspiration for the musical episode).

The guest stars: This show has the best guest stars of all time. To  name a few: Molly Ringwald, Cary Elwes, Jane Lynch, Tim Curry, Ally Sheedy, John Cena, Kerry Washington, Kenan Thompson, Judd Nelson, Freddie Prince Jr., Mena Suvari, Wayne Brady, Anthony Michael Hall, Christopher Lloyd, George Takei, and William Shatner. A fuller list can be found here.

The homage episodes: You just have to google homage episodes and the first few results are Psych related. This show set the standards on how to do an homage episode correctly. Some of the homages we had: John Hughes, Twin PeaksClueIndiana Jones,  Nightmare on Elm StreetOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestSliding Doors, The Shining, Friday the 13th, The Hangover, American Idol, Hitchcockand Psych itself (during season 8 they remade a season 1 episode).

The fans themselves: All of the above lead to the fans being loyal because the cast and crew went above and beyond. We once had a 10 month hiatus and the show did not lose viewers. Instead, we became even more loyal and used the time to bring in new fans. This fandom loved one another, and I cannot remember any fandom drama. The only thing that even stands out is when Shawn and Jules got a serious girlfriend/boyfriend that were not each other. The fandom was torn over liking them or hating them. What set this fandom apart from others is that at the end of the day everybody agreed that Shules (Shawn and Jules) was endgame and that a girlfriend or boyfriend billed as a guest star was not going to last forever. The fans never got into wars, and all you had to do was say you watched/liked Psych  and you were welcomed with open arms and hugs for the long hiatuses.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu (Watch the Trailer)

Where to find the fandom: While a large portion of the fandom petered out a year or two after the final episode, new fans still have access to all the fandom goodness.  FanfictionPsychficLivejournalAO3USANetwork, Tumblr: Psych TagPsychUSA TagPsychfanaticsthelittleboycatpysch