Happy Independence Day!
Recently some people we thought were dear friends inflicted Chuck on us via massive arm-twisting and emotional evangelizing. My husband and I are both busy people, we have a wonderful evening entertainment routine which includes Rhett and Link’s Good Mythical Morning, and we really didn’t have time for another TV Show.
They applied the pressure. (We’re so glad they did.)
Hesitantly, we started season one in early February. And once you start…you’re doomed. In about four weeks, we devoured all five seasons becoming Chuck-evangelists ourselves.
This show is the Get Smart of my generation. It’s very specifically geared towards those of us fortunate enough to be born in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It is brilliant. It now occupies a slot in my Favorite TV Show List alongside Star Trek:NG, Firefly, Band of Brothers, Sherlock and 24. Chuck is funny, cute, intense, heart-warming, relatively clean, and relatively moral. The jokes are both nerdy and geeky, and cover everything from Court Jester, Terminator, Final Fantasy, Cobra, Batman, Tron and so much more.
The real beauty of this show, though, is not the jokes only my generation will get, it’s the characters. The main characters all grow, but don’t change. They all mature without losing the core that made you love them in the first place. Each season they add important layers to the main characters that give them an unusual amount of depth for such a fun show.
Normally, I don’t enjoy shows with a lead female who can fight her way out of any situation, especially against bigger men. I think it’s unrealistic to the point of being patronizing and insulting. Strength is not always how much butt you can kick. I really hate it, generally, when they pair a strong, cold female with a wimpy guy. I just don’t find the ‘I can be as strong as him’ plot point satisfying. Call me old school, but I enjoy the strong guy who saves the girl far more than the strong girl who saves the guy. All this was true until I watched Chuck. Chuck’s saving grace, his strength, is his moral compass. He never strays from it. He always does the right thing no matter what national secrets are on the line. It’s why you love him. It is why Sarah loves him. And while Sarah is saving Chuck physically – she protects him – Chuck is saving her spiritually and emotionally. Chuck gives her something to live for, not only because she loves him, but also because he’s good. She wants to be a better person because she loves him. They play this theme out dimensionally with the other characters. The hardened John Casey is not immune to Chuck’s good nature. I think, ultimately, Casey is my favorite character. He starts out easily mistaken for cardboard. He grunts, shoots, and has no emotion. By the end of the show, he’s part of the family, willing to do anything for his team. Casey becomes human because of Chuck.
I loved Chuck’s use of marriage. In many stories once you have the lead male and female marry, the spark is gone. They fight. They cheat and lie. They lose everything about them that you once loved. Not Chuck. Chuck and Sarah’s marriage only strengthens their bond. They have a greater depth of character as a unit and as individuals once they’re married. I loved the power it gave their characters when they no longer protected their boyfriend or girlfriend but their husband or wife. Even the side characters, Awesome and Ellie, have a good marriage. Marriage is not treated as the end of romance, but as the beginning.
There are many heartwarming themes running through this show. Loyalty to friends and family is at the forefront. My husband and I have a close-knit family. We spend a lot of time together. We’re loyal to each other. I love this show for honoring that. It was also nice not to feel like the political punching bag. If you’re conservative in any way, you know what I’m talking about. Chuck, probably due to Adam Baldwin’s influence, makes conservative jokes that don’t poke fun at us as stupid but as strong. Casey has a picture of Ronald Reagan in his house, Rush Limbaugh is mentioned, and guns are used regularly. Chuck’s personal aversion to guns isn’t touted as the next step in human enlightenment, but only part of his character, making it less annoying. This is one of the few shows where the wife chooses to be at home with her child. How often does that happen? Never. But Ellie admits she wants to be with her daughter and Awesome sacrifices what he wants for her. It’s great.
So, this show is one of the few shows that made me laugh like a geek, satisfied my courage/loyalty loves, and didn’t trample my conservative belief system. On top of all that, it had layers of depth, twists and turns, intense moments, and I cried. I cried like wake-up-the-next-day-with-sandpaper-eyes through the last three episodes. As soon as it was over, I wanted to start it again. I watched much of this show with the similar intensity as 24: just one more episode, one more.
Parental Warning: I would rate Chuck PG-13. It is a feel good, relatively clean show, without too much language or violence, but seduction is part of the spy game. And as nice as it is to conservatives, it’s not based on firm Christian values.