Chuck

 
(i)

 

Fun spy show is more about comedy than danger.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Chuck is a reluctant spy who becomes a pawn in a turf battle between the CIA and the NSA. It’s typical good guy/bad guy stuff, with some gray areas thrown in for good measure. He consistently prefers not to use weapons and is often motivated by his love of his friends and family members and desire to help them and keep them safe.

Positive role models

Some good guys who work for the government turn out to be bad guys, but Chuck is a relatable everyman who consistently tries to do the right thing. He's got to do some fibbing to keep his spy life a secret, but it's for a good cause.

Violence

Frequent martial arts fistfights and stylized hand-to-hand combat featuring knives and other weapons, but there's little blood or gore. Other fights involve guns and are more graphic. The spies carry guns and sometimes use them, but Chuck typically handles conflicts without weapons. Some explosions, car chases, and the like during missions. Some dead bodies shown, but the camera doesn't linger, and there's not too much blood.

Sex

Nothing graphic, though there's plenty of flirting and kissing, and some scenes show scantily clad women (who are ogled a fair amount). Some innuendo/discussion of sex, but it's generally light, with little shown. In one episode, Chuck has to access a porn website to disable a bomb (nothing graphic shown).

Language

Fairly infrequent use of words like "damn," "hell," "crap," "oh my God," "idiot," etc.

Consumerism

Some video games/platforms are mentioned by name, including Xbox and Call of Duty, and there’s some blatant product placement from Subway. Chuck also works at an electronics superstore called "Buy More."

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Cast:Joshua Gomez, Yvonne Strahovski, Zachary Levi
Network:NBC
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Chuck was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byluffy900 August 6, 2009
 

Chuck is a hit with teens!

This a great comedy/spy show, I love it, the only part that gets me is the sometimes crude comments made by some of the characters, and some shows show one of the main characters (Sarah) in her underwear along with another female in another episode. But other than that its a great show!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written bytackettgibson July 15, 2014
 

We love it, but...

My kids (12 and 13 yo) and I are watching this on netflix this summer. We are finished with three seasons and we all love it. There are some things though that parents may want to know before they get invested in the show. It is addictive! The violence is choreographed so that is not an issue for me (and I really hate violent shows and games). It is no worse than fight scenes in other crime procedurals. It is not bloody. The use of guns is debated regularly on the show. The main character refuses to use them, and the message here is a good one - when someone dies it is serious and it changes you. For a generation that plays Call of Duty etc. this is important to hear. I find the show though to be fairly sexual, sometimes uncomfortably so for me. There are scenes of casual hook ups (no nudity, but there is undressing); using sex to solicit information; a good deal of talk about sex; some stalking references. Now this is a comedy, so these things are funny and light hearted. They are also ironic or unrealistic. But they are there. The relationships also do not become marital relationships until season 2. Couples live together - they are very committed and actually good role models for positive relationships - but if you are trying to teach your kids to wait before marriage this may offer some counter messages. I just simply used it to talk to my kids about our values and how they are different and similar to those in the show. The second season in particular also presents women as sexual objects. They have little to contribute in terms of dialogue nor are their characters really developed at all. They are show from the perspective of the men in the show. Fantasy scenes include women with wind swept hair, little clothing, etc. Again they are funny... but I talked with my kids about this - that women are more than just something to look at or to be pretty for the sake of guys. This concerns me for the message it sends my son. My daughter and I have talked about what "girls" are enough that she knows it is not real world. I have become more aware though of how much harder this message is for boys to understand. Season three gets better on this issue. But for the a good part of the show, even the fight scenes with the female characters are meant for men to watch (fighting with skimpy outfits on etc.). Clearly someone was working out his fantasies here. All of that said, we do love the show. The characters are great and endearing. Things like trust and friendship are regularly talked about. The importance of family is a strong message throughout. It is fine for most families. Other parents may want to pause.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written byRelleeStar May 17, 2011
 

XD

Chuck is loyal and determined with a quirky smile and a nerdy attitude. He is always funny and never fails to make me cheer him on! Action and comedy mixed together! There are plenty of bed scenes, but everyone has their clothes on and they mostly talk (and the bed scenes happen between engaged couples). Some language. But overall it's one of my favorite shows!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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