Note: This is a portion of a letter I’m sending to Hogan Sheffer and Meg Kelly. None of this is groundbreaking, but I thought they needed to hear it. I must credit my fellow Chick fan Tripp for some of the suggestions below.
Chelsea has been one of my favorite characters since last summer soon after James E. Reilly left the show, and I was ecstatic when Nick was brought on to be paired with her. I loved Nick right away, how he was smart and funny and not your typical bland hunk. The banter in their first scenes was wonderfully written: “That’s not porn, you jackass. Those are my parents.” “She has a record? That’s hot.” I loved that he called her on her BS, like the day at Chez Rouge when he said she should be thinking about college or a job instead of obsessing about getting her parents back together.
If you want to look at a perfect example of what makes Chick great, go back to the mini-storyline where they brought Shawn and Belle the money in Toronto, where they bickered, bantered, bonded, and outsmarted Phillip on the way. Nick’s calm intelligence and Chelsea’s snarky street smarts were a perfect complement to each other. Their conversation on the plane over the magazine was a delight, and so was Nick’s plan to slip a knife into Phillip’s suitcase.
Rachel Melvin and Blake Berris are two of the best actors in the younger set. They can do it all—tenderness, angst, and fun banter. The Lonely Splicer reveal scene was also wonderfully written and acted. But I’m concerned that their storylines recently have not played to what makes this couple great.
One of the things I loved about Nick from the beginning was how smart he was. He was perfect as a moral compass for Chelsea, who often flounders when making decisions. Nick screwing up three times—pretending to be LonelySplicer, sleeping with Billie, being blackmailed by Willow—is two times too many.
I thought each storyline (LonelySplicer, Billie, Willow) was perfectly fine in execution—especially the Billie storyline—but taken all together it is just too much, too many obstacles too fast. They barely have time to absorb and react to one crisis before the story is hurling them into another.
The Willow storyline especially threw almost everything that was special about this couple out the window. Nick was a spineless idiot to let first Chelsea talk him into stealing the hairbrush even though he knew it was wrong (so much for being a moral compass), then a spineless idiot a second time to let Willow outsmart him. It was in character to have Nick try to help Willow—he has a bit of a white knight complex—but not to be blackmailed, and not at the cost of lying to Chelsea once again. Nick’s insecurity is part of him, but the way he is acting now it is the only part of him, and his grave compassion and quick-thinking intelligence haven’t made an appearance for months.
Similarly, Chelsea remains snarky and a blunt-truth teller, but her conversation with Nick at the police station (week of 6/12) was jaw-droppingly out-of-character. She went from, one week, pushing Nick to get an apartment so they could sleep together, to accusing him of forcing her to “put out” the next. If I never have to hear someone use the phrase “put out” on Days again I will be a happy woman. When we’re rooting for a couple to have sex, we delight in them longing for each other, not accusing each other of being only out for sex (this goes for Belle, too, a hundredfold).
Had I been writing this story I would have had Nick be smitten at first, then put off by her attitude. Chelsea would come to realize he gives good advice and grudgingly start to seek it out. This would have given Nick the opportunity to gradually see Chelsea’s soft side. Another opportunity to pause in their developing relationship was after the LonelySplicer reveal when Chelsea got a job at the lab. I would have loved to see them attempt to work together when they were on the outs. It would have also given Chelsea a chance to see Nick in a new light, where he is a respected professional.
I am fine with obstacles, and angst, and characters being flawed and making mistakes. But it is very satisfying to occasionally watch characters be smart, and outwit the bad guys, and do the right thing against the odds. Let this couple shine the way I’ve seen they can.