I may be the only fan of NBC's "Chuck" left in the world today. Tied with the History Channel's "Pawn Stars" as one of the dumbest premises of a show on air, "Chuck" is about the adventures of a computer store employee who ends up with a government supercomputer in his brain. I won't go too far into defending the show. Yvonne Strahovski is gorgeous and Australian — just saying. I only bring up "Chuck" to deconstruct what I think is its most valuable asset: its understanding of interpersonal relationships.
Television has the ability to romanticize certain aspects of our life. The great thing about being able to write a script is that you have complete control: Everything works out just as you intend. Implausible feats can be accomplished because you wish it so. Your generic random character — call him Mr. MacGuffin — takes a bullet for the protagonist not because Mr. MacGuffin was oh-so-deeply inspired by the protagonist's ideals in the 41 minutes the two spent together. He takes the bullet to the chest — giving him enough time to croak out one more line — because it is impossible to have a show with a dead title character.
"Chuck" inherently gets this. You can tell two of the main characters, Chuck and Morgan, are friends because of the minutiae like the small, appreciative smile from Chuck when Morgan screams at him to "sweep the leg." The show understands that it's the small things, the aspects that seem the most trivial, that truly make a friendship. A friend of mine often says you can tell more about a man from his actions than his words, which seems obvious but still rings true. The tooth fairy does not exist, but that does not mean anything when your parents skip work to catch your Little League game.
The little things matter, yet they happen to be the hardest to appreciate. We get so caught up in the soap opera that is our lives that it is hard to really wrap your head around the magnanimous actions of others. Next time wonder if your friend is really sitting down to play a marathon best-out-of-nine series of "FIFA Soccer 12" because he enjoys staring at a TV screen for two hours or because it looks like you have had the worst day and need some company.
Taking a step back for some appreciation is especially relevant. The last two weeks have been the November of our discontent, as a phalanx of midterms has rained down fiery destruction from the lectern. It seems inconceivable at a school so steeped in ideological individuality that every single professor seems to believe that he or she should have a midterm every four weeks, but they do. If you asked most students about their workload, they would still, regardless of what it actually is, imagine themselves as Leonidas at Thermopylae shouting "This is Sparta!" while kicking an unsuspecting midterm or two off a cliff.
Yet for all his bravery and badassery, Leonidas still had 300 guys backing him up. Life is similar — but without the insanely high levels of testosterone. While you might remember your heroic studying during that all-nighter you pulled to ace a chemistry exam, there was probably someone there who took time out of his night to commiserate with you for a bit. Or maybe someone saw that you looked gaunter than the zombies of the "Walking Dead" and distracted you with a hilarious YouTube video to get your mind off the fact that you still had to write an entire draft of a play due the next day.
Life often feels like you are a firing-range target, except instead of bullets, you are getting pelted with rotten eggs. At the end of the day, you have be able to live with the stench of all those eggs. Yet every once in a while, a person covers for you and lets you go one day without smelling terrible. That's your friend right there. To put it another way, when your friend tells you to "sweep the leg," laugh a bit — even if the 1990s is calling to get their terrible Karate Kid movie reference back.
Chip Lebovitz '14 has a painfully long thank-you list to cover starting with David Jacobs, Kevin Leitao, Tom Shaw and about 27 other fellows. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.