A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action-driven comedy makes espionage look exciting and fun. But even when Chuck is involved in life-or-death missions, the danger seems unrealistic. In the beginning, Chuck doesn't use weapons, but the people trying to help or hinder him do (and as the series develops, Chuck goes to “spy school” and learns how properly defend himself). Some conflicts involve guns and shooting, although the violence is never really graphic. There's also some romantic tension between Chuck and his "handler" Sarah (who later becomes his girlfriend), as well as some social drinking.
What's the story?
When electronics-store employee CHUCK (Zachary Levi) opens a message from a spy whose dying act was to send him a trove of top-secret intelligence, every seemingly unrelated scrap of data about global espionage is subliminally implanted into his brain. But when the CIA and the NSA track the email to Chuck’s inbox, they can't decide whether to take advantage of his newfound knowledge or try to scrub his mind clean. As Chuck slowly starts to connect the dots, his ability to spot dangerous plots as they unfold makes him an invaluable asset, and the government recruits him to join their war on terror.
Is it any good?
Chuck is a completely improbable but highly entertaining romp through two worlds that rarely meet on TV: secret agents and high-tech nerds. And there's good reason to keep those worlds separate. After all, at first, Chuck's biggest concerns are playing video games and finding a date, preferably with his CIA handler, Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), who eventually becomes his love interest. Meanwhile, Sarah has other things on her mind, including protecting the world and mourning her late boyfriend, the same spy who emailed the secret data to Chuck in the first place. But it's the contradictions between these two worlds that make Chuck a whole lot of fun.
Even though Chuck's spy life is obviously a farce, the interactions between Chuck and his tech-support pals ring true and are often quite funny, particularly his relationship with his best friend, Morgan (Joshua Gomez), who, if anything, is an even bigger nerd than Chuck is. Add in the element of “geek chic,” and your kids will have plenty of reasons to pay attention in computer class.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this show’s distinctive style, particularly its uncommon blend of action and comedy. How do Chuck and the agents he interacts with compare to other spies you’ve seen on television and in the movies? Would the show be more or less enjoyable if the tone were entirely serious?
Do you think real-life spies are more like James Bond or more like Chuck, an average guy who tries to make sense of seemingly unconnected bits of data? Why do most movies and TV shows about espionage tend to romanticize life on the job?
How has Chuck’s view of the world changed over time? Does the show paint the world as more or less of a dangerous place than it actually is?
For kids who love action and laughs
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.