You see, I was bored recently. Bored enough to think, "Hey, maybe I should try out a new TV series on Netflix." And so, because Netflix predicted that, based on my past viewing preferences, I would rate Chuck as a five-star series, worthy of my highest praise, that's what I selected.
I went in with expectations far below five stars. You see, once upon a time, right around when I started this blog, I saw the pilot episode at Family Home Evening. For some reason, our male FHE leader thought that watching Chuck was our surest path to spiritual enlightenment that evening. I remember being less than impressed. This chick wandered around in her underwear, some buff dude kept saying "Awesome," and a few other main characters were living below their potential at dead-end retail jobs.
That's what I was envisioning when I clicked the red and black play button over Zachary Levi, action hero, in Netflix. I thought I was immune to liking this series. But oh how wrong I was.
At first, let me admit that I kept watching more because of the casting choices than anything else. I had just finished a Hallmark Channel movie starring Ryan McPartlin. Chuck fans know him as Captain Awesome. Yeah, the buff dude from my vague memory. In the Hallmark Channel movie, Chance at Romance, Awesome played a widowed photographer with a matchmaking young son. Through Awesome's website, the son poses as his dad and recruits a fan to visit their home. She shows up, the misunderstanding comes to light, but she stays long enough to fall in love. Obviously. It's Hallmark Channel.
And who was playing Awesome's girlfriend/Chuck's sister, Ellie? None other than another Hallmark Channel favorite of mine, Sarah Lancaster. I liked her in Fir Crazy, the one where the lead character loses her job and has to work at her family Christmas tree lot--which is where she meets her true love, naturally, played by the guy who dated Lana on Smallville. (Fun facts: His Smallville name was Whitney; he also appeared in Mrs. Miracle 2 and The Work and the Glory films as the rebellious brother.)
I'm digressing, but you need to know I stayed because of Awesome and Ellie, not because of Chuck and Sarah. But man, that will-they-won't-they dynamic is powerful. In truth, my attraction to the show actually stems more from will-he-or-won't he. Will Chuck be able to escape his trapped, going nowhere existence? Will he win the heart of the beautiful girl? Will his dreams finally come true after so much undeserved misfortune? I wanted those things for Chuck because now, years after I first saw the pilot, I felt/feel like I was/am in the same position. My job is okay for now since nothing exceptional panned out right after college, but it doesn't feel like there's room for progress. My love life is non-existent, and at times it's hard to fight the feeling that, although I have many awesome qualities (intelligence, personality, looks), no one of the opposite sex will ever find those qualities awesome enough to commit.
And so, feeling sympathy and undying devotion for the ever-charming Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski, I continued my binge-watch. I rooted for him when he took action to get what he wanted romantically and professionally, even if that meant (spoiler alerts ahead) breaking up with Sarah or choosing career over romance. In rooting for Chuck, my hibernating ambition and self-belief began to awaken. Maybe not to act for themselves, but at least to take a look at the view.
And now, I'm almost to the end of the third season, and I'm having that moment again. The moment where Zachary Levi makes me cry. Because I've realized the reason I'm letting myself fall in crush with Chuck is that he's me, but the version of me that's finally thrust into what my life should be. And that's when all the happy memories of Chuck become sad, because I realize that a spy who just happens to be my perfect romantic partner is never going to walk into my place of business and begin a complicated and heartbreaking but ultimately destined to succeed relationship with me. It's sad because people don't get a Chuck-like invitation to take the reins of their lives.
So, now I wish I knew how to quit Chuck. Because I have vague memories of a friend telling me how the series ends, and that is sad too. And I just don't need anymore tears inspired by Zachary Levi.
Excuse me while I go listen to Katharine McPhee's "Terrified"--the Zachary Levi version.