It probably says something about me that I always think people look better when they’re not smiling.
One thing I really appreciate about the show/character is that, for all the tension about Sarah’s spy awesomeness versus Chuck’s nerdy ordinariness, it is never based on their genders. He is totally unbothered by the fact that she is and always will be far more intimidating and physically capable than him. That is just never an issue. He never feels like he has to be the one who protects just because he’s the man and they’re dating. His masculinity isn’t in question, because he’s a civilian and she’s an agent and duh. It is a non-issue for them and that is amazing.
Contrariwise, I’ve seen some bitching that their relationship is the standard romantic comedy nerd wish fulfilment of the gorgeous, accomplished woman inexplicably falling for some complete loser and giving him endless chances to grow up and show her some hidden inner qualities. I don’t think that argument has a leg to stand on with this show. Chuck isn’t just some schlubby dork who refuses to let go of a protracted adolescence, he’s genuinely brilliant, capable, and admirable. I mean, first of all, he isn’t Seth Rogan; ZL is obviously every bit as good-looking as YS even though he is very dorked up and unkempt for the show, so it’s hardly a reinforcement of the comedy standard of women needing to be beautiful and magnetic where men can be loved for their personalities.
Second of all, Chuck is just as much of a fantasy as Sarah (neither of them are really, but at first glance). Not that he’s unrealistic, because he has very balanced flaws and he is totally believable, but he is an ideal in some ways the same way that Sarah seems to be until her character as a damaged and prickly person is revealed. Chuck is so incredibly loveable and faultlessly kind that pretty much everyone in the show ‘falls’ for him and wants to protect him (Sarah, Bryce, Casey, Beckman, etc.). He’s very smart, resourceful, responsible (in that he takes his crappy job seriously and is a natural leader, not ‘big picture’ responsible because he is still letting his life pass him by), sweet, brave (not reckless and macho, not stupid action movie brave- realistically brave), and selfless. He’s a charismatic idealist who believes the best of people so strongly that they often feel compelled to live up to his expectations. He’s a romantic and a people-pleaser who is very in touch with his feelings and doesn’t feel the least bit of shame about it. Chuck is the one who’s gregarious and fun, trying to get stoic Sarah to loosen up and live a little. He keeps trying to make a real connection even though she pushes him away and freezes him out. Seriously, he’s playing the role of ‘the girl’ in the relationship cliché we’re used to on television. This makes him (unintentionally, I’m sure) just as much of a fantasy to nerdy women as Sarah is to nerdy men.
He’s also so fleshed-out and real as a person, has such a fully realised life and so many disparate well-drawn relationships, that if anything you wonder what HE sees in HER at the beginning of the series. What makes her special beyond her beauty and ass-kicking? It takes a long time for us to find out and for Sarah to show real depth as a character because of their choice to draw her out as an inaccessible love-interest. We can’t know what she’s thinking because the show is firmly from Chuck’s POV and they wanted to do more will-they-or-won’t-they. It ends up making sense because of her backstory and stunted emotional growth, but I think that was more a fortuitous accident than a great master plan. She never does have any hobbies or interests, and come on. Even if her life is nothing but work, she’s going to be interested in things. She doesn’t listen to music, she must read or collect stamps or cook or watch DYI shows. Something!
Anyway. Sarah being a bit underwritten aside, their relationship is more awesome than not awesome and it is obvious why she would be attracted to him. His openness and warmth is exactly what she’s been missing her whole life, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I just realised that I’ve spilled a lot of ink without clearly understanding that one of the things that I enjoyed so much about Thor 1 Loki is that he is actually incredibly naïve. All that cunning and pragmatism in service of a goal which requires a child-like (not childish, though he is that too) innocence to believe will work out the way he hopes. Everyone will accept me and Daddy will love me if I can become more Thor than Thor (Thor got banned for being Thor- Loki understood politics and practical as opposed to performative kingship before this). I just find Loki the Tragic Teenage Prince who is way too smart for the stupid crap he does so endlessly fascinating as the antagonist of a comic book movie.* He’s so believable and so operatic at the same time, brilliant and cynical but really still just a child with a child’s wants.
In The Avengers, that bizarre sense of innocence is totally lost and he’s not naïve, he’s just foolish and his thinking is much less sophisticated. Which is really boring. (The loss of his innocence would not be not terrible writing, for once, if it were explicit in the film that he did go through all that whatever he went through. If we’re going there, however, it should be more than coyly hinted at that he’s been broken completely.)
Also probably the main reason why I dislike it so much when people cross the streams, because one thing that the mythic Loki definitively is not is naïve.
* Both Loki and Jane are really protagonists alongside our eponymous hero.
So I was deathly ill for the entire Christmas holiday and spent it in bed mainlining CHUCK, primarily because I read on tvtropes that the central couple got together in reasonable time and then stayed together happily for the rest of the show. There isn’t a lot of that out there. And, you know, there are a bunch of awesome people involved in it, the whole cast is tall (my height obsession, let me show you it), and I remember never giving it a chance back in le day.
Can we talk about CHUCK for a second.
It took a while before I truly fell in love with it, but I seriously watched the ENTIRE show in a week or less (well, telling a lie, I stopped halfway through the season four finale because of reasons, but I did watch four seasons of an hour show almost continuously). Now I’m starting over at the beginning to watch it again because I am loving it more all the time. THIS SHOW IS SO ENDEARING. For some reason, comedy is always funnier to me the second time I watch it, but this show is genuinely hilarious. I passionately love every single regular character and how nice everyone is and how light it manages to be. It’s so refreshing, it’s so warm and adorable, so unapologetically over the top that it makes me giddy. My episode review is usually along the lines of ‘is my inane grin enormous or merely huge?’
But, you know, there is some shit that really brings it down. I mean apart from Chuck’s hair in the latter half of S2 (oh my God WHAT EVEN WAS THAT).
I’m so sorry Monsieur Chauvelin, I had to come back for my hat… It’s such a cursed good hat, you know.
This suave mofo.
happy birthday to my hero, david bowie. <3
Of the many, many things that are fucking terrible about the ‘endless will they or won’t they’ theory of television relationship writing, the one that ultimately makes it unbearable even when you watch long after it’s all over is the crap that’s used to keep them apart. By the time they get together, their relationship has become so hopelessly fucked up that it no longer seems like they should get together. The show comes up with all these stupid contrivances for why they can’t just date even though mutual feelings have been admitted, huge energy is put into the characters each deciding it’s better they’re not together, everyone is just miserable because of the attraction, the plot twists itself into a pretzel so the love interests can always be responsible for the most messed up crap in each other’s lives, they always pretend to betray each other, they pretend not return feelings to ‘save’ the beloved, blah blah.
It all gets so weighed down in trauma that it’s like, can these people even be in a stable relationship at this point? Oh you killed her dad, she turned you over to the bad guys, you’d both lose your jobs, or whatever your goal is, or on and on. I’m sick of this shit. Don’t spend three years telling me the relationship is impossible because of circumstances and then act like that doesn’t matter and it’s all about personal feelings again. UHUHSLHFLDSH
I couldn’t tell you, it’s certainly not the world I live in because I’ve heard men giggling plenty.
I described a male character as having giggled in a sort of tense moment, as a shocked-incredulous-amused kind of reaction, and got told off by a reviewer because ‘men do not GIGGLE’ and it’s effeminate. She was pretty adamant, she used a condescending ‘ummm’ and everything. Then she suggested other words to use, including ‘chortle’, which is entirely the wrong connotation for the scene. It’s almost like I deliberately used ‘giggle’ because it best conveyed my intent and there’s nothing wrong with it.
Sorry. I might have been annoyed.
Wow, it actually just occurred to me that it’s pretty much explicit in Thor that Asgardian culture includes ancestor veneration, and it seems likely that their religion also incorporates full-on ancestor worship. Calling on forefathers to define and justify oneself and one’s power being the order of the day.
And this means I get to add ‘religious crisis’ to the list of paradigm implosions Loki is undergoing in the last half of the film.
Which is so much fanfic fodder. Though I’m annoyed on that front currently. Having had someone tell me, emphatically, that ‘men don’t giggle’ and my Thor sounded too smart to be Thor. Both of which are just… *sigh*
Go Warwick! A fine defense.
You too can play ‘spot the David Bowie stunt double’ by watching Never Mind the Buzzcocks, starting at 20:50.
My childhood crush on Warwick Davis continues unabated.