Having watched the first couple of episodes of Chuck, for the most part, I’m pretty impressed. It’s a fun show, with a neat concept–the basic premise of it is that a supremely regular guy, a somewhat underachieving geek, suddenly finds himself in possession of all of the state secrets anyone could ever want. It’s an unsubtle male-geek fantasy fulfillment show, creating a set of circumstances that place a guy they relate to in the role of video-game style hero. A boring life instantly becomes a constant adventure, with no one suspecting just how much the weight of the world rests on the shoulders of one ordinary dude.
And, of course, the excitement would not be complete without the sexy spy girl love interest. Sarah has some genuine potential as a strong female character. Since she works for the CIA, she’s had to demonstrate intelligence, courage and physical strength already. But the scene in the pilot where she’s preparing for her first “date” with Chuck, walking around in lingerie, strapping on kevlar and sticking a gun in her garter establishes her place in the fantasy. If she’s going to be a tough woman, she’s also got to be sexy. The fight scenes all play for the male gaze–if they’re between men, the feeling is that the viewer is placed into the position of the good guy, relating to his struggle and watching as he figures out how to get out of a bad situation, but if they’re between women, the viewer is removed from the thought process and watching from outside, because the details are less important than the titillation.
Thus far, I give major points for not having put her in the position of powerless, must-be-rescued figure, ignoring her training and martial arts skills, but aiming higher, wouldn’t it be nice if the sexiness and sexuality of the strong woman could be completely irrelevant? If we didn’t have to hear at all about her relationship status or history? I don’t know a damn thing about Casey’s (Adam Baldwin) love/sex life, and he’s essentially the same level a character as Sarah. The appearance of a couple of female villain figures using classic sexy femme fatale style seduction/betrayal techniques also doesn’t thrill me. It’s not quite Bond girls, but it’s treading a little too close.