Friday, November 09, 2007


On Monday's episode of NBC's new spy-comedy Chuck, the title character, in a flashback sequence, remembers his first meeting Bryce Larkin, his fellow Standford undergrad and eventual arch-nemisis. Upon learning that Chuck, portrayed as the uber-geek (with sporadic levels of plausibility) by Zachary Levi, is programming his own version of an old video game, Bryce offers to introduce him to a girl he knows with a similiar interest in the same game, an offer Chuck enthusiastically accepts.

Even though my back was to her, my wife remarked that she could feel me getting pissed.

The desperate fantasy of geeks everywhere (and I include myself in this category): if only I could meet a girl with the same interest in my essentially geeky-male hobby, she'd be the girl for me.

Even if enough such women existed to go around (they do not), it is unlikely that they will be interested in geeks. "Shared interest," in an of itself, is an exceedingly weak basis on which to attract a woman. At best, a woman's knowledge of your particular field of interest might help her appreciate your status within that field, assuming you have status. But don't kid yourself: it is the status itself that attracts women, not the fact that she "shares your interests."

And I would issue the further caveat that the field of interest in question must have some intersection with the real world. Even a prodigious talet for reverse-engineering out-of-circulation video games, in an of itself, is not going to be much help.

So returning to the show: it is all to plausible that Chuck might share this fantasy. I had the fantasy myself until well into my twenties. But I guarantee that Bryce Larkin, portrayed as the alpha BMOC by Matthew Bomer, would know better. And that was the implausibility to which I reacted.

More broadly, the writers of Chuck try to portray his present lack of success with women entirely as a function of a low self-image resulting from his expulsion from Stanford. Geeks everywhere love to be told this, even when we don't believe it. It is entirely plausible that his sister would encourage him in this way; that's what concerned female relatives do (or at least, that's what my own did). But in several ways, the writers show that they want the audience to think this really is the reason! (As opposed to, say, the stink of underachievement that permeates his existence.)

So, okay, low self-esteem is a real turn-off all by itself. Point conceded. But this almost never exists in a vaccuum.

1 comment:

Independent Accountant said...

Perry Mason! I grew up with Perry Mason, first show aired 21 September 1957 on CBS in NYC at 7:30 PM. I loved that show. I must have seen all 271 episodes.