November 22, 2010 by jessperriam
Tuesday evening saw myself, Bradbury and the Engrish Teacher have a delightful homecooked meal to celebrate Bradbury’s triumphant return from a weekend away in Adelaide. *insert a bit of trumpet fanfare here, it’ll sound better in your head*
The lounge room had a smattering of women’s trashy mags due to Bradbury’s mother in law looking after the place over the weekend. So the talk had gone gossipy very quickly.
But anyway, the Engrish Teacher posed the question: Robin or Lily?
We quickly established that the Engrish Teacher was indeed a Robin (yeah, she’s been to Japan and EVERYTHING!) and Bradbury was a Lily (not the least bit because she has a Marshall doppelganger for a husband).
But where did that leave me – everyone’s favourite Explorer – in the world of How I Met Your Mother?
“Um… yeah Jess. I reckon you’re a Ted.”
“Yes, yes. Definitely a Ted.”
A Ted? Underwhelming.
Ted’s a pretty forgettable character. Nice, loyal, kind, mildly selfish. But ultimately forgettable. Great.
But I suppose that fits in with the number one rule of sitcom character comparison: No two people can be the same character. At least, not with that immediate group of people you’re comparing with.
Comparisons to How I Met Your Mother characters is to the 2010s as comparisons to Friends characters is to the 1990s.
So being given a Ted rating is like someone saying you’re a Ross. Yeah, screw you too. Let me get back to my dinosaur bones.
While a lot of my friends display character traits – The Lawyer is the best real-life Barney you’ll ever meet – I think these real people are all far richer than carefully constructed, idiosyncratic sitcom characters.
The Engrish Teacher is not and has never been a Canadian teen pop star. But she lives a fascinating life where she’s lived in Japan as well as tropical, sunny Queensland and had many, many adventures along the way. She’s a brilliant raconteur and she makes bodily functions seem hilarious.
I know at least three Barneys in my life, one of them is even a lady Barney. But that’s a pretty damning assessment of my friends – Barney is a fairly one dimensional character who spouts one-liners, expects gratuitous hi-fiving at the lamest of jokes and lives through his libido. Each of my three Barneys are intelligent, witty people who do amazing things with their lives. Their story arcs are far less predictable yet infinitely more rewarding than sitcom characters.
You are you.
While you may display certain characteristics, you are your own character telling your own story in life. A fellow Ted – even more Ted-like than myself – is far more intriguing. The actions of Ted in How I Met Your Mother rarely surprise me. But the moment I found out The Rum Junkie had taken up competitive weightlifting, you couldn’t shut my mouth for being completely gob smacked. That was the best entertainment I’d had all week.
You are you. Nobody else. I find you more fascinating, well-developed and rounded as a person. All of you.
Sometime we need to step back and realise that life inspires art. Not the other way around.
It is our quirks, habits and crazy moments that inspire what we see on our screens. And if it isn’t us, it’s someone we know and their motley bunch of mates.
Step away from the screen, get off the couch and live the rich, full lives that sitcoms are made of. Be your own character. Provide someone else with the inspiration, the flashes of brilliance that they require. Be the raconteur, telling the stories of those funny times. Build on those experiences and keep going. Don’t stop. Your life is infinitely more intricate than that made up by a room full of scriptwriters.
You are you.