Since when do nerds get to choose between Yvonne Strahovski and Rachel Bilson? This is not something that happens in real life. Well, I suppose, if the “nerd” in question is a Hollywood actor that looks like Zachary Levi, then it’s not totally impossible. The “nerd bagging a hot chick” has become a common theme in Hollywood recently, mostly thanks to Judd Apatow. But, before Apatow’s reign began, Josh Schwartz orchestrated an unlikely romance on his first series The OC between popular hottie Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) and uber-nerd Seth Cohen (Adam Brody). Seth Cohen is, for all intents and purposes, Josh Schwartz’s fictional, younger self. Why wouldn’t he pair his former self with a girl like Summer? It must be rewarding. On Chuck, Schwartz’s newest nerd cypher is Chuck Bartowski, played by Zach Levi. Zach Levi looks like an older, taller version of Adam Brody and both are handsomer versions of Josh Schwartz.
I’m not trying to knock Schwartz down a peg. Nothing of the sort. He knows how to cast a TV show – find great looking people who also happen to be solid actors (or, in Mischa Barton‘s case, terrible actors). Chuck’s cast is not as large as The OC’s, but it’s just as attractive, if not more so. Yvonne Strahovski might be the most attractive lady on television, and Sara Lancaster is nothing to sneeze at. Rachel Bilson’s appearance on Chuck last week, however, showed an evolution in Schwartz’s universe of female characters.
I love Rachel Bilson, think she’s a very good actress, funny and attractive. But, when she stood next to Yvonne Strahovski on Monday’s Chuck, Bilson looked like the ugly step-sister. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but that was the first thought that flashed through my mind during their scene. It’s definitely more of a commentary on Strahovski’s excellence than it is on Bilson. But, it makes sense – Bilson is the symbol of high school perfection for Schwartz and his vicarious, autobiographical characters, and Strahovski is adulthood’s counterpart.
Summer Roberts and Lou (Bilson’s Chuck character) are similar in mannerisms and behavior. We can safely consider Lou a grown-up Summer Roberts. Both are quirky, funny, neurotic. By viewing promos for the next Chuck episode, we also see that the neurosis and quirkiness may be too much for Chuck to handle.
This kind of behavior was acceptable for a high school girl, hence Summer’s relationship with Seth on The OC. But, is such omnipresent neurosis desirable to someone in their mid-20s? A show like The OC needed characters with weak dispositions – the series was a melodrama. High school drama is borne out of such characters. Chuck, the character and the series, has no use for such things. A strong, independent, female like Sarah Walker on Chuck is the best of her kind on a Josh Schwartz show. It also helps that she’s the best looking lady on one of Schwartz’s shows, because she is by far the strongest female character he’s ever created (Ellie Bartowski isn’t far behind).
We know that Chuck will not end up with Bilson’s Lou, seeing as she’s not a main character. Is the grown up Seth Cohen that is Chuck Bartowski shedding his affection for Summer Roberts here, realizing that previously acceptable character flaws are no longer desirable? Does this have anything to do with Josh Schwartz’s personal evolution? Whatever it is, Chuck Bartowski still has two women who look like Rachel Bilson and Yvonne Strahovski in his life, which is more than the rest of us can claim, nerd or not. I’d take either, quirkiness and neurosis be damned. But, whether this is a true commentary on the Seth/Chuck/Schwartz characters’ maturation is unknown. Perhaps it’s coincidence and wholly unrelated, but I’m betting there’s something to it, if only because it’s always fun to read deep into the significance of hot girls.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of NBC)