If you want a family-friendly series with incredible chemistry between its characters, witty banter, pineapples in every episode, and childish crime-solving between two best friends, do yourself a favor and watch Psych. Psych features Shawn Spencer, a crime consultant for the Santa Barbara Police Department who fakes being psychic. Shawn’s best friend Burton Guster (he’s usually referred to as Gus, but sometimes Shawn makes up fake names for him when they’re working a case) is the smarter of the duo, and he makes sure that Shawn doesn’t get into too much trouble. Psych has a comical premise, and it certainly relies on humor, but it doesn’t follow the typical sitcom format, so most people might be apprehensive to call it a sitcom. On some points, they are correct. Without spoiling anything, Psych shows the realistic struggles of relationships, the difficulty of parenting, and the struggles of keeping a secret from loved ones. I personally believe, however, that Psych fits the ideology of the sitcom while breaking the sitcom format.
Most sitcoms tend to be form-fitting. They are 20-25 minutes in length, feature a main plot and a subplot, and follow a three-act format. Characters rarely develop, and when they do, it only lasts for an episode or two. Although the content in sitcoms is vastly different, their form is almost exactly the same.
Psych has a different form to it. The show averages about 45 minutes per episode. A typical episode features an episode-based plot that usually centers around a crime, a subplot usually centered around character development, and an addition to a season-wide arc. Unlike sitcoms such as Seinfeld, all of the characters develop and mature throughout the series. By the end of the series, Shawn evolves from a childish faux-psychic into a somewhat more mature faux-psychic who has more empathy than his original self.
That said, Psych still holds true to the content in sitcoms. The banter helps drive the plot, Shawn’s “psychic visions” are accompanied by goofy motions or atypical props, and Gus’s romantic attractions to all types of women (that usually end up being suspects) always make for a good laugh. Despite its touching moments, the show would not exist without its comedy. It consistently references pop culture, and it regularly parodies iconic scenes from TV and film. A majority of the show’s recurring characters are also famous actors and actresses from other sitcoms.
Despite its departure from the standard format, I believe Psych is a sitcom that is filled with great jokes, silly gags, and fun crime-solving adventure.