How I Met Your Mother: Nostalgia and the Fear of Change
How I Met Your Mother: Nostalgia and the Fear of Change
Change is inevitable, but not necessarily desirable.  I think this is what How I Met Your Mother was trying to say last night.  How I Met Your Mother doesn't ram messages down its viewers throats very often.  Instead, the writers like to bring up issues, dilemmas that the common person in their twenties might face, and leave it in an ambiguous manner.  The group of friends are on the brink of major changes.  At the last second, these changes become too much.  Nostalgia kicks in, and the long-established comfort zones of Ted, Marshall, Lilly and Robin instantly become more desirable than the great unknown of change.  It takes Barney's old man make-up to kick Ted out of his momentary fear of change, but the question remains: Is change really all that it's cracked up to be?

If the penultimate scene in last night's episode is any indication, maybe not.  We got to see that, in a year, all five of our main characters are back at McLaren's, the apartment is still theirs and everyone seems happy.  At the least, they are content, in high spirits.  Ted is not married to Stella (or, if he is, he's being a bad husband), Robin is clearly not in Japan.  I think there's a good chance that Lilly and Marshall are living in their new apartment.  Remember – we know that Robin is living in Ted's apartment.  There's no suspense now, right? 

How I Met Your Mother has been great at giving viewers pieces of the future to puzzle over, but was last night too much?  Stella is clearly out of the picture.  Robin returns.  The apartment is still around.  So – what is there to wonder about?  I suppose Robin and Barney's relationship is up in the air.  The writers definitely have a twist up their sleeves, though I have no clue what it might be, which is probably to their credit.

Anyway – to embrace change or to fear it?  I identified with Robin in last night's episode. If I had to move to another country, it would probably take me about a half hour to pack.  I don't have pictures or keepsakes.  I don't have any things of any kind, and it's pretty nice.  It's a decision that's hard to make – you basically are rejecting the whole idea of nostalgia.  I believe that is an admirable way to live, because it means you always find yourself in the moment.  We often overestimate our memories, and you could see this in how attached Marshall and Ted were to the stuff in their apartment.  This isn't to say that Ted should be more gung-ho about getting hitched, just that it's important to weigh how your life is in the present (rather than was in the past) against what your life will be if you decide to go through with a drastic life change.

How I Met Your Mother has gotten more poignant here in its fourth season, and the show has felt more important as a result.  It's still funny (the interventions last night were hilarious), but I can't remember a comedy that was so consistently in tune with a certain subset of the viewing audience.  Let's hope they keep it up.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of CBS)
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