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What Are Some Other 'Howcatchem' Shows That Are Like Poker Face?

Over the last several years, Rian Johnson has helped revive the "whodunnit" subgenre of mysteries. With films like "Knives Out" and "Glass Onion," he's brought a new detective to the forefront, namely Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who comes across a grisly murder and is the only one who can put all of the pieces together to figure out who did it. It's a classic detective story formula popularized by authors like Agatha Christie. And hopefully, it leads to many more like it in the near future because when done well, they can be a ton of fun. 

Now, Johnson has brought his sensibilities to the small screen with his newest Peacock series, "Poker Face." While the show has a capable sleuth at the center of every mystery, in this case, Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne), it has a slightly different formula. As evidenced by the first episode, we see the crime play out in its entirety initially. For the pilot, that involves seeing Natalie (Dascha Polanco) stumble upon something she wasn't supposed to see and get murdered as a result. 

We know who the perpetrator is, but the excitement comes from watching Charlie piece everything together to find justice for Natalie. If you found yourself riveted by the story arc, there are plenty of other TV "howcatchems" like it. 

Columbo is the most famous example of a 'howcatchem'

While "howcatchem" is the more colloquial term, the genre is officially referred to as an "inverted detective story." As the name suggests, the audience typically sees the crime play out, including knowing who the perpetrator is. However, there may be ancillary information that needs to be solved along the way, such as the detective figuring out why the crime took place. The most famous example of this kind of story is "Columbo," which ran throughout the 1970s before being brought back in the '80s with various specials running up until 2003. In classic "howcatchem" style, the audience would see the crime play out at the beginning of the episode, and the enjoyment comes from watching Columbo try to solve it. 

Other shows will use this format from time to time, such as "Criminal Minds" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." Occasionally, these shows would have episodes that show you the crime taking place initially before transitioning the point of view to that of law enforcement. In a way, a show like "Breaking Bad" could be considered a "howcatchem" because we know Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) are the ones producing meth, and the tension comes from watching the DEA try to figure out who's Heisenberg. 

However, a show that tends to adhere more closely to "howcatchem" tenets would be "Luther." The audience knows the identity of the villain early on, and we watch Luther (Idris Elba) attempt to catch the suspect. With "Poker Face," there's now a noteworthy addition to the grand tradition of the subgenre.