I am not sure how many of the How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) fans would agree that the underlying reason behind their ‘fandom’, is the woeful state of their love lives. Especially in India, where dating is still difficult life is hell for singles, who find themselves in Ted Mosby’s position too frequently than they would care to admit. Once you have reached mid-twenties, things around you start to change…. a lot. Relationships of friends are suddenly serious, mad dates and whirlwind romances are enjoyed in the safety of multiplex screens, and approaching strangers becomes tougher. These mid-twenties to mid-thirties are the target segment that follows HIMYM religiously, for some of the very obvious reasons.
1) They all have a Ted in a group
Although Ted Mosby should be a very eligible bachelor, he struggles with something that invokes more humor than empathy. He is indecisive. You have got to admit that nobody has had more chances to get hitched. If you remove the whole ‘telling-a-story-to-kids’, and the fact that he eventually did get married, Ted’s bachelor days could be seen as a more intellectual, and generally lamer version of Barney’s bachelor days. His whole idea of the perfect moment, perfect person, and the universe giving him signs could be perceived as his deep unsettling fear of commitment. Alright, I have bashed the poor guy enough, but waiting for something magical has created a lot of disillusioned people ( counting me), who are never going to get anywhere in their love life, unless they make an attempt to do something about it. Since there are so many of such singles around, Ted Mosby is not just a stranger, people see their closest friends, brothers, and maybe even ex-boyfriends in him. However, Ted is not the only character, and the show is loved more for the chemistry of the entire group. But wait, haven’t we seen this before???
As someone away from the home, I can relate with many more single people who crave for the family, (even though they claim to hate theirs) and try to find it among their peers. An article on Guardian explains the phenomenon in detail. Friends are slowly replacing the archetypical support group that was extended family a couple of decades back. Most single men and women living in the metros like Banglore, Mumbai, and Delhi find themselves more comfortable in the company of friends they have made in their twenties than with their cousins who may or may not have similar tastes. It’s probably why shows like ‘Friends’ have struck a chord in the Indian hearts. We have more in common with the folks staying up in tiny apartments on the Big Apple. HIMYM has continued what shows like Friends, and Seinfeld have done earlier. For a generation that has been watching Friends as kids, HIMYM provides a trusted, familiar, extension that is warm and invokes subtle nostalgia. It’s probably what Friends would have looked like had it continued. But more than the nostalgia, the show defines the era for us and nothing is more tempting than trying to define yourself.
3) What I see is me
From the attempts of sabotaging natural beauty by leaving your name on it, to the profound lines from Pink Floyd’s Echoes ( I am you, and what I see is Me), we all crave for eternal existence in some form… One could claim that our attempts of procreation are nothing but an excercise in vanity. We want to leave our mark behind, and thus fall in love with things that do it for us instead. HIMYM has run for nine long seasons. Just to put things into perspective, HIMYM was launched before the first iphone. Yes, it has been around for that long. First few years of the new millennium were perhaps the ones when the HIMYM generation was just being tinkered to be unleashed on the world. Most of the fans must have been either in their teenage, or adolescent days, with a strong need to have ‘their show’. HIMYM fulfilled that need, and here we are almost eight years later, still waiting for the happily ever after for Ted Mosby. After you stay with something for so long, there are aught to be strong feelings about it. Now that the show is coming to an end, it’s perhaps time to ask what’s next.
Of course, this question is not in terms what which show we will watch hereafter. That would be just stupid, obviously there are going to be other shows. The question is about what will happen to a whole generation of people who have faced the trials of being a single? Ted Mosby will ultimately get the girl. We knew that will happen eventually. Many of the real life Teds on the other hand, may not be so lucky. As an honest single person, who has been somewhat on the fence about getting into a relationship till now, it’s hell out there. People are at their busiest, I have friends who work for 15 hours every day, sometimes even on the weekends. Careers are taking control of our lives, and there is never a lot of space for the crazy things that lead you to ‘finding’ someone. Many of us who have been brought up on the steady diet of American sitcoms, think online dating and matchmaking is only for the lame. How and when will we meet people? And I think it’s a little difficult to get into relationships without meeting people. So HIMYM may end soon, but HIMYM syndrome, an endless saga of countless Teds trying to find ‘the mother’ of their kids will surely continue for long time.