As I mentioned in my X-Men review a week or so ago, humanity’s search for meaning and purpose has stretched across time, with the ache for something more ingrained in us as we long to discover the reason why we are put on this earth. Whether we are 10 or 90, I believe we will never stop searching for what we were meant to do with our lives, our short time on this planet, and we will also never stop looking for someone to guide us in this life.
That’s why I have found TV shows that delve into the most meaningful question of ‘why am I here’ and ‘who do I turn to in this life’ fascinating and interesting. While the word ‘purpose’ means so many different things to different people depending on their morals, ethics and values they believe in, one thing we can agree on is that everyone is searching for someone to trust (a hero or saviour if you will), so that this life is bearable and holds significance. This is where a couple of my favourite shows come in.
Chuck was a spy/family drama that aired on NBC from 2007-2012, starring Zachary Levi as the titular character Chuck Bartowski, whose life is completely turned upside down when he receives an email one night from an old college friend. Unbeknownst to Chuck, his friend is a CIA analyst, who has just sent him an encoded file of a software program, containing the U.S’s greatest spy secrets (which is uploaded to his brain!), and from then on, Chuck and his two handlers Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Casey (Adam Baldwin) form a team, and undertake undercover missions in Chuck’s hometown of Burbank, based of Chuck’s ‘flashes’, ultimately keeping America and the world safe. If you will, Chuck is sort of like a hero for America (and the rest of the world by the end of the series), and is someone that the government reluctantly turns to in this show, when they are all out of options.
While Sarah, Casey and Chuck work well together as a team, and also Chuck’s best friend Morgan later on; it is evident that all of Sarah and Casey’s training has prepared them for this moment, that they ultimately do look to Chuck for guidance in terms of national security, protecting him from danger as those who don’t understand his ‘gift’ try to exploit it for their own nefarious purposes. While Chuck was literally thrust into this world he didn’t know about, the next protagonist in the other show is semi burdened by the ‘saviour’ tag as well.
In the fairy-tale themed show Once Upon A Time, a young woman, named Emma Swan, played by House alumni Jennifer Morrison, a bails-bond person, who lives in Boston and wishes she is not alone on her 28th birthday. Then a 10 year old boy named Henry comes up to her front door claiming to be her son, and she tries to bring him back home, to the parents and family that raised him. This brings the viewer to the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine where the subsequent episodes are situated, and as Henry claims, Emma finds out that the town is under a curse that was implemented by Regina, Henry’s adoptive mother and the mayor (Lana Parilla); who is actually the Evil Queen according to Henry. He also claims that all the townsfolk have been walking around in a haze for 28 years, not aging, and living in a dream-state; the curse affecting them also. Here’s the kicker and the punch-line though- everyone is a fairy tale character, including Emma’s parents Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). Henry also tells Emma that she is the saviour destined to break the curse and restore all the happy endings.
As Emma stays in Storybrooke (with the first season showing back stories of the main characters and their life in the Enchanted Forest), Emma takes on the unassuming title of Saviour, bestowed to her by Henry, and as the series progresses, particularly when the curse breaks at the end of season one, Emma becomes a person people rely and depend on. She is a hero in the truest sense and particularly in later seasons, she grows more confident and accepting into her role as someone people can look up to and admire. In that respect Emma Swan and Chuck Bartowski are not that different in the sense that both their lives were turned upside down, and both had to grapple with the tag put on them.
Now what has these two shows taught me? That sometimes the great heroes and people worth looking up to were reluctant to begin with, and none of them are perfect. At times, Chuck wanted to escape the program in his head, and in some instances, he actively tried to give himself up so that the people closest to him could be safe. And Emma, throughout the first season, tried to leave town with Henry, to escape the madness and pressure, so that she wouldn’t have to deal with her parents being the same age as her. But in the end, both these ‘Saviours’ and ‘Heroes’ return to their crazy life with all of the extra responsibility, and this shows that sometimes having a greater purpose than your own has benefits that are way more fulfilling and satisfying than the cost.
Who are the heroes in your own life that you look up to? It may be your parents, your favourite music/movie/TV star, a best friend, a teacher, a pastor, or a mentor, but whoever it is, let’s remember that we are all human and all make mistakes. Thus all of the people that we look up to make mistakes too. It’s part of life that sometimes we screw up. The beauty of having heroes is that we forgive, and that we don’t hold grudges. And as you listen to these songs below about heroes (by Skillet and Casting Crowns), remember, that if you are lucky to personally know your hero, it would be great if you tell them that you value them. After all, if they know, they can actively make sure that your life is being lived to the fullest, and that you are not making the same mistakes that they did. And if your hero is Jesus, like myself, then that is the best hero to have, as His flawless and self-serving life to others should be the template that we as people base our life on.
Let us know who your hero is in the comments, and hopefully, they will read this blog post!