It’s obvious why nerds love the NBC show Chuck: It’s about a movie-quoting, sci-fi-loving, video-game-playing, comic-book-reading techie who works for the “Nerd Herd” (think Geek Squad) at the “Buy More” (how about Best Buy?), winds up getting a supercomputer with all the government’s secrets implanted in his brain, and becomes a spy. He goes on dangerous missions, and a lethal, gorgeous CIA agent falls in love with him. It’s a nerd fantasy.
But how about conservatives? They should love the show, too — whether they happen to be nerds or not.
The show, now into its fourth season, sets a consistent tone of sacrifice, patriotism, and love of country. Of course, this is an action-comedy series, so there are plenty of laughs, winks, and nods, and nothing is taken too seriously. But the members of the core spy team — Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), John Casey (Adam Baldwin), and Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez) — have an unmistakable love for this nation, and are willing to risk and sacrifice all for each other and for the American people.
Family is another important theme. Chuck loves and protects his sister and brother-in-law, and has risked everything to find out what happened to his father and mother. Meanwhile, super-spy Sarah understands that she has missed something important by not having a family, and her love for and experiences with Chuck make her realize this even more clearly.
Then there’s John Casey, who has become one of my all-time favorite television characters. A former Marine and now a “Commie-hating, gun-loving” NSA agent, Casey has photos of President Reagan that he periodically salutes. The character has served up some laugh-out-loud lines. For example, in a flashback scene to 1999, Casey describes a mission to Iran as follows: “We are under strict orders from President Clinton to seal this place up. While I might not like him, or his mouthy wife, those are the orders.” Good stuff.
And Casey is practically a proto–Tea Partier: In one episode, the Buy More is supposedly going to be sold off, so staff members take over the store in protest. Casey has to get in for unrelated pressing reasons, but the protesters question his loyalties. Why should they trust him? His answer: “Because the only thing I hate more than hippie and neo-liberal fascists and anarchists are the hypocrite, fat-cat suits they eventually grow up to become.”
The final reason why the Right should love Chuck isn’t about the show itself but about the star, Zachary Levi. In early November, TVSquad.com brought attention to an interview that Levi did a few years ago with Relevant magazine:
“Is Hollywood a difficult atmosphere to be in as a Christian?”
“Absolutely. The atmosphere in Hollywood in general is very anti-conservative, very anti-Christian. The liberal segment of Hollywood, which is 80 percent of it if not more, they look at Christians as hypocrites that are false and fake. The tough part is that in many cases I can’t argue with them. My job on my set, I believe, is to first just love people and gain that trust with people where they know that I really do love them and care about their well-being, so that when they are running into problems, they will hopefully, at some point, come to me and ask me, ‘What is your peace all about? What is your comfort all about? Where do you get your love? Where do you get your talents?’ And I can turn to them and say without blinking, ‘Jesus Christ.’ You can’t just come out there and say ‘Hey, I’m a Christian, and I’m gonna beat you into thinking the way that I do.’ You can’t do that. It’s not about manipulation so much as it’s about getting in on someone’s life on the ground floor. So more than anything, that’s what I’m trying to do now. Just build relationships with everyone that I work with.”
As the show’s nerdy T-shirts say, “Chuck me.”
— Ray Keating is an economist and novelist. His new book, Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel, is available at Amazon.com.