On How I Met Your Mother
With the series final still in somewhat fresh memory, I wanted to write down some words on what I can only describe as a profound emotional reaction I had last night.
Despite HIMYM didn't starting to air in Germany until 2008 (created in 2005), I have read great reviews of it beforehand which made me anticipate the pilot quite a lot. Back then, I already was a TV series junkie, but apart from maybe Scrubs, I don't think any other series ended up having such an deep impact on me as HIMYM did. Once I watched the pilot, I was sold and told all of my friends to watch it. Arguably, HIMYM is now far more popular in Germany than here in the US.
Although HIMYM has always been my favorite TV show, I was surprised by the gravity of the show's finality, despite it's declining draw of the more recent seasons. It's not until something is gone that you will start to realize the significance it has had on your life, and HIMYM for sure had it.
The finale did a great job of emphasizing the strengths of the plot (despite minor shortcomings due to having to cram everything in the last episode). HIMYM was never about the story of how Ted meets the love of his life (whether that'd be the mother or Robin).
HIMYM was above all a celebration of life, full of the awesomeness and legendary-ness that we want it to be. It was a glimpse of a version of what could be us. We live in a generation where boredom and averageness are our biggest fears. We want to be special. Over the nine seasons, we have witnessed a lot of legendary stories and while they might not occur in such a concentration in real life, they remind and inspire us to keep our lives interesting and full of change, enthusiastic and appreciative of the little things.
Everything that happens, good or bad, is meant to be and might be important in the larger story. I'm not usually a fan of destiny, but HIMYM definitely made the idea of the universe having a plan for you far more likeable. It reaffirms our desire for karmic effects, that when bad things happen, good things will happen, that if you keep trying, you will be rewarded. In the meantime, all you can and should do is take it easy and live life to its fullest.
Admittedly, like any sitcom, we had many of the same platitudes that you would get in your everyday Buzzfeed GIF list of the day but in many ways, the struggle of the character's was incredibly relatable. Whether it is Marshall and Lily's constant struggle to balance the sacrifice of their professional life with the realities of their early relationship, Robin's struggle with becoming emotionally invested, or from a males perspective, Ted's and Barney's relentless pursuit and all the stupid things they (or we) do to get married and laid. It was enough emotions to matter but not too much to become too serious.
Even before I started to appreciate the significance of celebrating life, the friendship that the five shared was truly inspiring from the start. The running gags that we come to acquire, the role that each character plays in the group, all these are the extensions of our desire to have a purpose and make a mark on the world and people around us. We want to be memorable, but also share our life with people that matter to us. This all culminates in the regular gathering at McLaren's where the war stories and memories are exchanged.
While it might never culminate in a regular alcohol session at the local bar, I really really hope that it will happen to me in one way or another. The incredibly awesome thing about long-lasting friendships are the insider jokes, the shared memories, the weird quirks and old traditions. I'll most likely adopt a more nomadic lifestyle than the average joe, so focusing on keeping and nurturing your close friendships is of paramount priority to me in order to become the person who I want to be.
Even more rewarding than the lessons of the story, was the social experience of communally watching (and re-watching (and re-watching)) the episodes, discussing what happened last night in between classes and planning on how we can be as awesome as Barney. All the things that were embodied in the show, the 16-year old versions of ourselves wanted to do. While watching the finale, I wished I could have shared that experience with my friends from back home as well.
In hindsight, I would have never guessed that this experience would have such a deep impact on me. And this might be the biggest takeaway for me.
I used to think that society's love for pop-culture is on the same level like sensationalism in journalism or our obsession with celebrities: A "lower" human desire that we all seem to agree to be "bad" intellectually, but consider a "guilty pleasure".
I now greatly reconsider the value of pop-culture to my individual development and ultimately recognize the strength of well-made cultural works. There always have been TV shows or movies that I drew lessons from (House, Jericho, I am Legend, I'm a sucker for semi-realistic post-apocalyptic stories), but not to the profound extent like HIMYM. I used to secretly mock and make fun of people who extrapolate their life onto pop-culture, but only now I come to realize that I was the ignorant one.
Shall the next generation have the luxury of having such a great piece of culture to help them grow up to the people they want to become.