The film ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ is a television series based on a story a father is telling his kids in the year 2030 about his life 20 years earlier. His story eventually leads to him meeting their mother. The focus of the show is a group of friends and their interactions together. Ted Mosby, the father narrating the stories is the show’s main character. He is an architect, is single, and lives in Manhattan. His two best friends, Marshall Eriksen and Lily Adrin who he has known since college, have been a couple ever since. They end up marrying in season 2, and in season 8, they have a kid. He has had an on and off romantic relationship with his close friend, Robin Scherbatsky. In the early episodes of the series, it seems like Robin is the mother to be, but this view changes in season 8 that begins at her wedding. Barney Stinson is Ted’s ‘best friend’, a title he gives himself, who is a womanizer. Barney has a strong feeling against marriage.
In Ted’s story to his kids, his friends are constantly in the picture. He refers to them as Uncle Marshall, Aunt Lily, Aunt Robin, and Uncle Barney. The new addition to the family is Cousin Marvin, Marshall and Lily’s son. The show follows his interaction with his friends who are relevant to his story of finding his wife. It depicts their stories throughout their late twenties and early thirties, where Ted is in constant search of his soul mate. Ted is narrating the story in the year 2030, but the story starts in the year 2005. In 2005, Ted is a single 27 – year old architect.
The characters in the show have their own roles in the family. Their interaction as friends has led to their closeness, regarding each other as family. The use of uncle, aunt, and cousin terms are among the indicators of this close family relationship. Their family unit is dependent on each one of them being present as their personal roles make up the family role. An example is in the episode ‘Farhampton’ in season 8 of the series, in which the bride (Robin) requests for Ted when she has wedding jitters. Ted plays his family role as he tries to calm her down showing her it is a normal occurrence. He replies to her question about the groom’s situation (Barney) that he is a hundred percent ready to go on with the wedding. In the other room Marshall and Lily, try to calm down Barney, who has a breakdown of his own. Ted goes on to help Robin, someone he once regarded as his soul mate, on her wedding day with his best friend. Without Ted’s approval of the wedding, Barney could not proceed with his proposal, as it would break the group. This is evident in a later episode, ‘The Final Page Part 2’, where Barney’s proposal depends on Ted moving on. This interdependence shows a true family bond. They cannot function without each other normally.
The same episode, ‘The Final Page Part 2’, displays another example of the significant role of family in the culture the characters portray. Marshall and Lily have a hard time getting their alone time after the introduction of baby Marvin into their lives. Lily’s father, Mickey offers to help take care of the baby while they enjoy a date night. Lily’s father was not present during her daughter’s child years. Lily resented him because of this. He was now trying to make up the lost time by being present in his grandson’s early life. Marshall and Lily at first were reluctant in leaving Marvin with his grandfather, but they later changed their minds. Later during the night, Lily calls home to check on their progress. Her father surprises her by accomplishing all the rules. She misses being present with her son. This shows a culture where the extended family is involved in the proceedings of the family unit. Lily’s father does not hesitate in helping out. He volunteers to do the duties. He does the duty of raising the child in a manner that is beyond his daughter’s expectations.
The family in the show has a basic identity that the show provides, storytelling. Storytelling is the whole basis of the show, where a father is narrating his past encounters with his children. This helps in the enculturation of the children into the society. In addition to this, within the stories, the group of friends reminisces on their past encounters portraying their roles in the family. The stories vary in depth and lessons they teach. Some stories reflect on past encounters that have shaped their future like those of Marshall, Ted, and Lily during their college years. Other stories build on the identity of the characters where they reflect on their past making fun of each other, and pointing out what their peers have accomplished or failed. The stories teach lessons and morals based on past situations. They aid in limiting the possibility of a present situation from happening. Stories told in such a cultural context helps the listeners to identify themselves with the characters, feeling like acquaintances over a long period. This displays a culture that passes its morals from a generation to the next.
The show portrays the gender roles in the culture. In the episode ‘The Lobster Crawl’, there are various examples that show the roles for the separate genders. In the episode, Marvin’s parents seek for a nanny. Mickey is out of town, and Ted volunteers for the babysitter position. This is unexpected as Ted’s role to Marvin should be to buy him a few presents as his uncle. Ted takes the role of babysitting deep as he takes Marvin to a shopping spree. He experiences the first steps of baby Marvin, which upsets both parents. Ted’s role as a babysitter overcomes his male dominant side. This gender role in a female-dominant field is also evident as Mickey also babysits his granddaughter. This portrays a culture that surpasses the norm of leaving the role of raising children to women that most cultures perceive.
In the episode, Robin tries to get the attention of Barney. She practices endogamy by limiting her choice of mates to the group. This takes place after Barney has declared that his quest for her is over. Robin unknowingly gets obsessed with Barney, as she can now not have him. She faces what Lily term as ‘the lobster situation,’ where after the doctors restricted her from eating lobsters due to an allergy. She became obsessed with lobsters. She ate lobsters until they blew her face, literally. This obsession replicated itself in the situation with Barney. Lilly sees her predicament and offers help. She suggests a solution, which reflects on her past situation with her husband, Marshall. In their college years when their dating was about to start, there were hiccups. Marshall could not find a way to start. Lilly introduced a girl back then to entice Marshall, and she now suggests that Robin should do the same with Barney. Robin follows her advice, which fails. Indeed they took the gender role of their opposite sex counterparts. They did not wait for men to propose, but went ahead to entice them.
Barney phenotype as a womanizer displays his gender specific role. In the episode ‘The Lobster Crawl’, hi character as a womanizer is changing. He shows this in his dialogue with Robin, saying that he is now searching for a ‘new thing’. Barney on two occasions refuses an invite by the women, one of which is by Robin. Barney is on a mission to make Robin his wife and cannot take anything to chance. This shows Barney’s role in wooing Robin. In order to accomplish this, he goes beyond his normal role as a womanizer.
The cultures of the characters in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ develop in the show through storytelling. The culture depicts a self-defined family. The family has a variety of family roles gender roles. A strong bond is continually growing that tightly knits the group of friends together. This continues well into the future from the college years, to an age where they have kids. The group uses an open style of communication as they work out their problems and make up their family as a whole. Gender-specific roles do not bind them. They take any role regardless of their gender. This culture develops it morals by following its rules and working together as a family. Storytelling enables them to maintain their relationships and family identity.
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