First post in 2012, mostly because the end of 2011/the beginning of 2012 has been a whirlwind of activity, whether it’s been working a ridiculous amount, or preparing for graduate school auditions, I find myself wanting to post here because of what I’ve been up to, and where I’m headed. So, let me tell you a story…
On September 24, 2007, I was a Freshman at DePauw. I had about a month under my belt there, and I was just starting to settle in and really feel comfortable about the place I called home for a total of four years. The reason I write about that day now is because how it began a journey for me that just ended tonight. That night, I sat down in my dorm room and turned on the TV to watch one of my favorite shows at the time, “Heroes”, the (once) popular NBC show about people with amazing abilities because of their DNA makeup. Now it’s just a footnote to me because it led me to why I’m writing this post now; I remembered that “Heroes” was on at 7 back home (Chicago being in the Central timezone and DePauw being in the Eastern timezone), so I turned on the TV at 8 PM. Much to my surprise, “Heroes” was not on at that time, but, instead, the pilot of a show simply entitled “Chuck”. I started watching the pilot and was simply floored; the premise was ridiculous and hilarious: a 20-something college dropout working at a big box electronics store has government secrets uploaded into his head without his permission and finds himself having to work with spies for the U.S. government because of an inability to immediately extract those secrets from his head. It was on that night that I became an avid fan of “Chuck”, whether it was the truly ridiculous situations Chuck and his government handlers would find themselves in, Zachary Levi’s amazing sense of comic timing and endearing nerdiness, Yvonne Strahovski’s incomparable beauty and ability to complement Levi’s nerdy clumsiness with an effortless suaveness, Adam Baldwin’s ability to use grunting as a form of communication and play the dual role of tough guy enforcer and watchful eye over Chuck or the silly antics the employees of the Buy More would be up to while all this spy silliness was going on around them.
Over the course of five seasons (and multiple threats of cancellation), the creators and writers of “Chuck” managed to create this lovable band of misfits, imperfect characters that were perfect in certain ways and lacking in others, and developed them into people. No matter how outrageous the plot seemed (although there were plenty of times that the mythology of the show itself impressed me as well) the characters seemed like real people, who struggled with the same problems everyone does (not getting the girl, hating your job, having secrets, expansive government conspiracy…well maybe not that last one). Throughout that course, there were a few basic tenets that emerged: 1) family, no matter how much you may disagree with them, will always be there for you and, accordingly, 2) you damn well better always be there for your family, 3) you’re always better off with friends than you are alone, because the power of knowing somebody loves & supports you is infinitely more powerful than your own sense of bravado, 4) sometimes changes come from the most unexpected places and, finally, 5) no matter what, no matter how bad you think things are, you, ultimately, are in charge of your fate; yes, there may be decision makers in your life that control certain aspects of what you do, but, at the end of the day, you’re the only person who can look in that mirror and assess whether or not you’re happy or satisfied.
So, as I watched the two-hour series finale of “Chuck”, I went through a vast expanse of emotions, but I realized exactly why I did as the series closed. On one very basic level it was because I loved the characters and the show and was very sad to see it go, as with many of my favorite shows. However, on another, very different, level, it was because this show had (albeit extremely inadvertently) brought the last four and a half years of my life full circle. When I turned that TV on in September of 2007, I was a very different person, just as Chuck was in the pilot and as the show came to a close this past Friday. I was an insecure Freshman in college, unsure of where I was headed or what I was doing and still not completely comfortable with where I was. Today, although I do face uncertainty about where I’m headed, I’m able to do so with a sense of confidence that what I’m doing is right for me, and that, as long as I keep my perspective open and I remember to breathe, things are going to work. Finishing this emotional journey with what is, at its surface, a TV show has given me a sense of renewed vigor toward this next chapter in my life. For the longest time, I bemoaned my fate of having to finish my undergraduate college experience, and then it ended; then I complained that the majority of my friends were not around because college was over, and that accomplished nothing. Somehow, “Chuck” and its series finale provided the needed metaphor for me to be able to love that experience but to also have to put it aside; I and “Chuck” had some good years, but now it’s time to move on to more good years in a different way. For “Chuck”, it’s for a fanbase to make their individual minds up what happens to those characters once that screen goes dark. For me, it’s time to take a deep breath, open my eyes, heart and mind, and show the world what I’ve got.