September 26, 2012

TV For Thought: Runaway Brides (and Grooms) on HIMYM

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This week is my holy grail of weeks. It’s my sultan of swat, my king of crash, my colossus of clout, my great bambino. In other words, my network shows are back for their new seasons, and hopefully it will be a good crop.

The time is ripe for my latest How I Met Your Mother theories. I will be the first to admit that the series has failed to live up to the magic that was their first four seasons.

Nevertheless, I will not simply jump ship when the going gets rough (hoping against hope that it will end better for me than those fans of Lost). Just call me Ted: I will hold on to things that clearly do not work all for the sake of some ultimate endgame.

And that is exactly what Monday night’s episode was all about. The writers have been toiling with the endgame more seriously in the past two seasons with flash-forwards and tying up of loose ends of the characters’ past love interests.

After finding out that former flame, Victoria (Ashley Williams), has left her fiancé at the altar without so much as a note, Ted turns the car around to fix it. Having been in the same situation, he regards the runaway note as common courtesy. (Keep that advice handy, those of you who are bound to bail with cold feet one day.) On the way to leave the note, however, Ted finds Victoria’s fiancé, Klaus (Thomas Lennon), also on his way out. It appears as though the couple was on the same page about parting ways.

But how does a couple get to the point where they take the emergency exit rather than the front door? Relationships are difficult to navigate and exhausting to maintain, but if things do not feel right, then they are not right. Klaus calls this (in his most adorable German accent), beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand. I wish I could have retained enough German from high school to dissect the word for its literal translation, but we will just have to go with Klaus on this one.

He claims that “it means the thing that is almost the thing that you want, but it’s not quite.” Invariably, everyone in the course of their love lives comes across a beinaheleidenschaftsgengenstand or two (or a billion). The pitfalls of young and fresh love are believing the infallibility of the person you are with and chalking up the small annoyances to quirks. These quirks (not of the Zooey Deschanel quality) can eventually build up into full-blown deal-breakers. Hopefully, you do not realize these deal-breakers at extremely inopportune times, like say, your wedding day.

Klaus’s counterexample, however, does not really help either. One’s lebenslangerschicksalsschatz, or “life-long treasure of destiny,” is supposed to just enter your life, igniting an eternal love. Sure, this is a sitcom, but why should the writers embrace this tired “love at first sight” mantra? It is only fueling Ted’s tired attempts at finding “the one.” I would love to see the mother — beyond the close-ups of her feet and taunting yellow umbrella — but it cannot simply just fall into place perfectly. That does not mean that I do not agree with Klaus that everyone has a lebenslangerschicksalsschatz awaiting around the next bend in their love lives, but instantaneous attraction and love does not really demystify the process of finding the one. It could hold true for the love that a parent feels upon holding their child in their arms or when they find the perfect puppy to take home.

Romantic relationships, however, are more complex than that and cannot be explained away with such a hokey belief. Two people from different walks of life or even of similar backgrounds cannot simply come together serendipitously and automatically feel that they could spend and share a life with that other person. This is how movies and television leave the wrong impression on how relationships come to be.

Sure, you may lock eyes from across the room. Sure, you may think that you want to marry them right then and there if they look like Michael Fassbender. But are they really? And if anything, Ted Marian Moseby has definitely proven that this idealistic notion of love has the ability to fool anyone, especially the hopeless romantic. Although, if the writers did reveal the mother soon, I would be more inclined to believe in the whole silly “love at first sight.” Maybe the key is simply patience. In the meantime, have a jolly old time finding your lebenslangerschicksalsschatz and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Original Author: Natalia Fallas