How I Met Your Mother Saved My Life

Kids, your Uncle Cameron has some life lessons to lay down on you.

Kids, your Uncle Cameron has some life lessons to lay down on you.

Cam Crum, Once Believed To Be A Barney, Really A Ted At Heart

I think I’d been single for about two months, broken hearted and wandering around Portland trying to make friends. Once I had a job and a room, however, I found myself falling back in with my old lover: television.

After watching all of Law and Order on Netflix I was at a loss. The reason for watching that show was so I wouldn’t get too involved with the characters, I wanted to focus on the nitty-gritty of the early to mid-nineties American law; the pitfalls and triumphs of our justice system (let me just say, they do some pretty shady stuff to put people behind bars, and there is more than one episode where it is implied it is not the right person) at work. But I browsed my queue and found only CSI: Miami and Wilfred, I grew terrified. I’d been watching television my whole life, but where would I find the sort of television that would allow me to blindly be entertained without worrying about the faces (People always die in shows, and it really distracts from the plot, ya know?) talking to one another? Oh, no, I thought, will I have to watch the news forever?!

A few days went by, and I just had to get over it or, like, read or book or something. And I knew the best way was to embrace what I had feared the most: the inaccurate representation of romance on television. I told myself that I had to tackle this, head-on, and I knew what show to aim for: How I Met Your Mother. In my mind, it was a goofy, Scrubs-esque comedy, but was probably about as accurate and honest about dating and relationships as Scrubs was about being a doctor. I will preface my next statement by saying this: you will never be able to portray with one hundred percent accuracy what it is like to date or have your heart broken or for it to be awkward when your ex comes around on television. There’s not enough time to show the guy sitting around crying or drinking and it would be a lot closer to the acting on Portlandia for those awkward scenes. However: How I Met Your Mother may be the most accurate portrayal of romance (sometimes) I’ve ever seen on television.

Now you may have gotten this far into the article, if so, wow, thank you so much, but you are probably thinking, “Seriously, dude, go read a book. Why are you so obsessed with t.v.? Why do you keep typing it out as ‘television, dude’? It’s ‘t.v.”!

First off, do you know what kind of books are out there? It’s not all Kierkegaard and Kerouac, folks. Second off, you watch television and so do I. so why not pay a little attention to what I’m putting in my body?

No, the real reason is I grew up believing that Scrubs was true. Or I believed in all the romance of the shows I watched, and began to believe that that’s what love was. That there would be this perfect person and though we fought we would always see one another in a crowded room and the song would be just right and her boyfriend was a bigger asshole than me. I’d have the perfect thing to say. She’d say yes. Then we’d kiss, roll credits.

 Far from true.

This is all fake! They probably don't even know each other's names!

This is all fake! They probably don't even know each other's names!

I found in life where the credits should be rolling, there was all this talk of what we were going to do tomorrow, if I had enough gas to come see you (and eventually) when was I coming home. Fights are not short, and storming out precipitates a hellish shitstorm so immense strangers will call you “Mudman”. Real relationships never have commercial breaks, and rarely is the song ever right. Or maybe the lighting is a little off. But HIMYM knows this. Like I said, you can’t get it all, but you can get insecurity to the max. The second episode features Ted (I’m going to assume you’ve watched the show, if not: here) throwing three parties three days in a row to impress a girl that rebuffed him after one date. Is that some true desperation? Yes. Does he get caught? Of course! The question that’s a little harder to answer is, is it love or creepy? I asked myself that all the time in a relationship and that line is very fine. Lily, who is an actually sociopath (I’m not joking. But more on that later) on several occasions has planted evidence or misconstrued the truth (that was part that was coming later) because she didn’t believe the girl was right for Ted. See, that’s where the show goes overboard. But was it unreasonable when she suggested to Ted that these girls may not be right of him? No, that’s what the damn shows about! The show is predicated on none of these girls being the ‘one’ for Ted. Lily is Ted’s damn Judas. Without her, he never would have known the struggles that ultimately led to his salvation. So all those manipulative girls who lie to you and actively exert their will to make your life how they think it should be, even if it means destroying you psychologically, ultimately you’ll meet your wife at not their wedding. So thank them.

Barney is an exaggeration of those guys who will do anything for a one night stand. Sure, not all of them stop and say, “oh, I’m so empty inside” in those words, many of them never get a chance to settle down because of some horrific disease than anonymous sex sometimes brings, but that sounds like a damn fine funeral. Still, would I want friends who had a book of tricks to bag girls (hint, I do)? Would I want to go the funeral of a good friend who died of sex related illness? A thousand times yes, if only to gives this eulogy: “He died doing whoever would say yes.” Eh? Eh? Pretty good, right? Anyway, guys like Barney are great, people, terrible wingmen.

What I’m saying here is that television is a tool. As an artist, what we do has an effect on people’s lives. Law and Order teaches us that the police will find you, and punish you, sometimes even if you’re innocent. But How I Met Your Mother has much greater implications: that your friends are right. If your best friend starts banging your ex, thank him. If another, different friend plots the demise of your relationship insofar as to even wager (hold on, she’s betting on a relationship, then sabotaging the relationship, it’s a good business model) on the outcome. Your friends know better than you, and they will do everything they can so you know it too.

So I moved back home, because I didn’t think any of my friends in Portland were right.