Thursday, February 24, 2011

Art Imitating My Life a Little too Closely

I have always been an “escapist” when it comes to TV. I watch because I don’t want to think about my life for a 30-minute period. I watch because I want to laugh when my life really isn’t that funny. I watch because sometimes I know that, for the most part, my life is incredibly different from the characters on the show.

Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite TV show on right now is How I Met Your Mother. It’s hysterical and all the actors are fun to watch and, honestly, my goal is to play, “Hi! Have you met Ted?” with one of my single friends. However, this season, they have taken a direction I am not exactly enjoying.

Let’s back up a little bit.

My favorite character on the show is Marshall. I think a lot of it has to do with his unfailing belief that he and Lily (his college sweetheart and wife) belong together (I have a soft spot for love stories. Don’t make a thing about it.). He is constantly striving to be a better man and follow his dreams, even if he has to take a few detours. Plus, he believes in the Sasquatch. This season, they really emphasized how close Marshall is with his father, which may have frustrated Lily, but it made me feel closer to his character. While I enjoy Barney’s antics and the constant embarrassment of Robin’s past, Marshall has always been the most endearing to watch.

I really was loving this season until the episode that aired January 3, when the writers and producers of my favorite show decided that art should imitate life. More specifically, by having art that I enjoy as a way to escape my life, imitate my life. At the end of “Bad Days,” Marshall finds out that his dad has died.

Ok, so I realize that the writers and producers of How I Met Your Mother were not specifically targeting me by having Marshall’s dad pass away. I also think that this is a great opportunity for Jason Segel (who I officially have a crush on… but that’s more Forgetting Sarah Marshall based) to show what he can do as an actor. It also gives the show something truly real to deal with beyond the struggles of love and marriage, which get done on every single sitcom. Additionally, there are humorous moments everywhere, even in death (as Jason, Alec, and Alexis, who sat out on the front porch with me while we were waiting for the funeral home the night my dad died, can attest to) and it is important for people to see that. However, that doesn’t make me any less annoyed.

After “Last Words,” which is an episode about Marshall’s dad’s last words to him and the whole group’s struggle to help him, it seemed that I would still be able to watch. Marshall’s life is so different from mine (he’s a lawyer trying to have a baby with his wife; I’m single, broke, and still living with my mother and fighting with several family members) But then one line from the episode aired last night brought all that to a halt.

“He won’t get to see how I turn out.”

My dad won’t get to see how I turn out. He was so proud of all I’ve done so far, and in my opinion, I haven’t really done much. How proud of me will he be in 20 years, when, hopefully, I’ve accomplished something? He won’t get to meet and scare the crap out of the next guy I date. He won’t get to tell me that the next pair of shoes I buy are kind of slutty. He won’t get see if I ever get out of Starbucks or eventually take over for Howard Schultz. He won’t walk me down the aisle or get to be a grandpa.

After about 30 minutes of crying, I got to thinking. All the people who have been a major part of your life will always be there, because they have helped put together the 3-D, complicated puzzle that ends up being you. So, while it might suck that these people are not in your life anymore, for whatever reason, they did something to change you into who you are now. Therefore, when those big moments happen, they are with you because they are a part of you.

So, while my dad might not be able to do all those things, he will in a way because he made me the person I am today, and no matter how hard it is for me to see now, his death will shape how the rest of my life goes. Every time I meet a guy, I will always have his influence in the back of my head. When I am working, no matter what I’m doing, I will always have his voice in my head, singing along to CCR: “Don’t let the man get you do what he done to me.” I will take everything he ever taught me, everything he ever showed me, and everything he wanted for me with me everywhere for the rest of my life. While it is definitely not the same thing as having him alongside me, it is something I will remind myself every time I think of all the things my dad won’t be alongside me to experience.

I’m still a little angry with How I Met Your Mother, though. I may have to defect to Big Bang Theory.

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