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How I Met Your Mother & Hated It

Yesterday I came upon a wonderful, if not depressing realisation. Human beings seek the same old social structures everywhere. We replicate the same relationship models, no matter what new social settings we are in. This realization came to me courtesy too many back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Why was I spending Sunday alone at home, glued to the TV set, watching reruns of a sitcom past its prime? That’s another story kids, but today let me tell you about the time I discovered that we recreate familiar relationship structures.

I detest Lily Aldrin. I think she’s pushy, overbearing, interfering and self-absorbed. None of those are really reasons to dislike her since these describe a lot of other people and characters that I do not dislike. Yesterday it dawned on me. The HIMYM character cast is nothing more than the modern version of a family sitcom. Cue Lily, the pushy, harassed, center-of-group mother. Marshall is the too-good-to-be-true papa bear who goes to work, is a lawyer who is actually nice and loyal and *never* looks at another woman. Barney is the sometimes annoying, sometimes lovable brother. Robin is – wait for it – not the girlfriend but the elder sister, you know the one you have a teensy crush on but you can’t breathe a word about  it to anyone. Ted Mosby of course, is the collective us, the audience.

Think about it. The group’s  structure, its habits (remember the episode on smoking?), their hangouts, who is ‘in’ and who is not, even who Ted and Robin date are judged and gavel-on-table’d by Lily. Everyone else nods a guilty ‘Yes mommy’ at her and continues. It’s sickening now that I think of it. No wonder I don’t like Lily then. Intrusive moms-in-law are not for liking, they’re for fearing.

Ted Mosby, you’re newly defined as pathetic. A job you love in a city you’re passionate about, an apartment and a life as a single man in New York and you still want to stay stuck to the oldest family structure ever – tied to mommy’s apron strings, hiding behind daddy and incestuously sharing a wet dream about your sister with your brother? For shame.

I’m deeply disturbed that I’m suddenly crushing a wee bit on you too. This totally sucks.

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Neanderthal In The Nice Guy

I was watching ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (HIMYM) yesterday (and may I add what a tremendous improvement it is on the clichéd, hackneyed ‘Friends’?). Barney, (commitment-phobic bad boy) convinces Marshal (married, nice guy) to ‘stand up for his manhood’, which translates to refusing to help in the house and make sexist cracks at his wife’s expense. As expected, a fight ensues between the couple, peppered with the sort of humour that makes this show very relatable and watchable.

What struck me was the thought that otherwise normal, decent, nice guys are probably going along in with their blameless lives, when they suddenly get distracted by a misnomer like Barney. It doesn’t matter how intelligent, evolved, caring or thoughtful the guys are, an idiotic jerk-boy can suddenly bring out similar behavior in them, just like that. Does that mean that every man has a jerk-boy in him but some just hide it really effectively until it answers to that primal call from the more ‘out’ jerk-boy?

I thought about the boy (like that was a surprise). He’s the one who got me hooked onto this show in the first place. He likes the character of Barney and thinks Ted Mosby (the ‘normal’ one) is a whiny wuss. He loves Shrek and Homer Simpson. He cheers very loudly at exactly the kind of jokes as the one I detailed above, on HIMYM. And last night we watched ‘The Green Hornet’ where he hooted through every sexist crack, every ‘I’m-a-brat-and-proud-of-it’ dialogue spewed by the lead character.

Hmm. In each of those cases, I glare at him, which only spurs him on to even greater hooting, laughing and applause. On occasion, I narrow my eyes, start to breathe fire and then, launch the offensive. Women’s rights, male chauvinism, the faults of the Indian man, herd mentality, cowardice, foetal survival rates, tolerance to pain and emotional fortitude are some of the weapons in my arsenal. No sireee, I don’t play clean, not when I’m challenged.

Yesterday since he wasn’t around during HIMYM, I had to substitute his laughter in my head and argue with an imaginary him. Of course, I won. Well, I do, even otherwise. But then I got to thinking about why he continues to uphold that gutterslime philosophy. He isn’t a male chauvinist. He’s actually not a spoilt mama’s boy. He actively stands for the independence and emancipation of women. And this I have to say honestly, he is proud of, rather than resentful of, his girlfriend’s successes. Then where is the source of Mr.Neanderthal in my Mr.Everyday?

Then it hit me:


Neanderthalism is to men, what shopaholism is to women.

It isn’t true of the majority of the gender. Most people see the idiocy of it and avoid such behavior, without excessive effort. But one practitioner comes along and makes it seem oh-so-cool and the rest of us ‘normal’ sorts feel like losers. The practitioner in question has to be in an innately weak state of mind to succumb to such behavior. And hence of course, he/she seeks to convert others to feel better about that fact that he/she isn’t alone. They’re obviously so convincing in it that the rest of us feel compelled to drop our otherwise intelligent/normal thought and face a momentary lapse of reason.

I am not a shopaholic, never have been. I know an excessive hoarding of possessions has to be an unhealthy symptom of something else going wrong. And of course, I’ve indulged in it more than once. Hey, everyone slips up sometime! It’s sort of like…falling sick. But I recover with time. I’m not a chronic spender, just a prudent women subject to occasional bouts of mad shopping.

And similarly, my Mr. Everyday and hundreds of other such ‘normal’ men are just regular guys, who’re occasionally seized with the desire to be Neanderthals. I could live with that. Even Neanderthals are scared of fire-breathing females.

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