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What “How I Met Your Mother” taught me about the one

I never really delved into romance as a genre when I was younger.

I mean, it was not a clear-cut no to affairs of the heart. I didn’t mind a love story as a subplot but I could not get my head around why people would read a whole novel or watch a whole show dedicated to love and relationships.

It took me until my late teenage years to move towards romance fiction. Over time, I uncovered the expectations, the trials and the tribulations of such relationships. Unknowingly, living vicariously through popular culture has prepared me for the future.

Situational comedies, for me at least, function as a form of escapism. More often than not, they’re based in New York City, the archetypal place to find yourself in your twenties. Being a Londoner myself, I covet the image of a group of six friends, hanging out in a city that never sleeps. Alongside the appeal of a close-knit group is the hope of meeting ‘the one.’ Indeed, the elusive ‘one’.

Growing up, I always found the portrayal of love in romantic comedies inferior to that of sitcoms. Partly because of the formulaic sequence of romcoms ignored character development. If there’s no depth to the protagonist, I struggle to empathize. And, ultimately, wince at the inevitable sappy happy ending.

Sitcoms, on the other hand, are so much more than comedic misunderstandings and double entendres. The serious moments intertwined with light-hearted comedy give a whole new depth to the romance.

One show that never fails to teach me a lesson about love is How I Met Your Mother.

To some, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) is a schmaltzy hopeless romantic. But to me, he is the guy who instills faith in love for those of us who are believing less and less every day. Much like me, he tends to overthink and look for signs from the universe to make a decision.

Pondering over what could’ve been has become a recurring theme in my life. I mean, I get so caught up in overanalyzing and attempting to make the right decision, I miss out on the opportunity to make the actual call.

Overthinking whether I should say hello or analyzing what a certain facial expression meant does more harm than good. Truly, giving every little thing a meaning is as indicative of the sign itself.

That being said, Ted’s encounter with ‘The One’ was not completely the result of his own actions. The famous yellow umbrella belonging to Tracy (Cristin Milioti) which made its way into Ted’s life demonstrates that fate has a way of working itself out. The universe has a plan and that plan is always in motion.

I understand that concept.

Like Ted, I also wonder about the little parts in the machine that are making sure I end up at the right place at the right time. I think, if I’m being honest with myself, I rely too much on these parts and neglect taking action myself. Second-guessing and preventing myself from taking risks have only ever resulted in what-ifs.

Of course, being nervous about taking a step lets you know that you’re onto something important.

Even if the call I make doesn’t pan out the way I want it to; I just hope that I have at least half the emotional endurance that Ted has.

That’s why to me, How I Met Your Mother is much more than your average sitcom.

Future Ted’s narration is an excellent example of reflection, though sometimes biased. How I Met Your Mother tells a great tale demonstrating how your present actions can have an impact on the future. Indeed, the telling of a love story in reverse order is further validation that everything will turn out fine.

The show has left a lasting impact, so whenever I’m stuck in a rut, I can switch it on and turn to Ted’s wisdom.

By Uzma Gulbahar

Uzma Gulbahar holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University College of London. She is particularly interested in exploring untold stories surrounding identity, culture and representation.