The portrayal of relationships of young adults in movies and television

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For my blog post I chose to analyze how pop culture portrays the relationships of 20’s somethings in movies and television. My reason for choosing this specific trope is due to the time period I am in my life and how it corresponds to the kinds of media I consume on a daily basis. The three primary sources I have chosen to help me with my analysis are Scott Pilgrim vs The World, How I Met Your Mother and the hit television show Girls. All three sources have completely different show dynamics but all have central themes that are quite related.

My findings were fairly interesting, on the surface the shows portrayed the relationships of the main characters with their friends/families/lovers as self-fulfilling, selfish, and tumultuous. The deeper I dived into the sources and the secondary sources I found an interesting trend. The way 20’s somethings relationships are portrayed in movies and television has to do with the transitional stage that being in your 20’s causes.

 

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: Dealing with the past.

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In the film Scott Pilgrim vs The World, the main character Scott Pilgrim, meets a beautiful delivery girl named Ramona Flowers. At the time Scott has no idea that this girl he has fallen for has a slew of ex boyfriends that she has left with little to no closure. Of these ex boyfriends (the 7 evil ex’s) she has cheated on each one consecutively.

It is clear in the portrayal in the film and the comic from which it’s based that Ramona is free spirited, hence the colorful hair that she changes every week and a half. She recently moved to Toronto to start over, hoping to escape her past. This is typical of people in their 20’s to do. Most are have yet to gotten married or have kids so the roots that they have set down could be as simple as a few ex boyfriends that they need to get away from to start over.

Like most movies that Michael Cera stars in, he needs the help of his friends to win the girl. This movie is no different. Scott Pilgrim is a lazy slacker who is selfish and doesn’t want anything to do with anything complicated. It is because of this that he is dating a high schooler by the name of Knives Chau. His immaturity causes him to essentially be a free loader living off of his friend’s good graces. He is stuck in a loop until he is forced to progress or transition to something more.  Insert Ramona Flowers. A very complicated girl for whom Pilgrim must defeat all 7 of her evil ex’s to date her.

Their relationship- both Scott and Ramona are similar in the way that they deal with their past, they run from it. As one of my secondary sources points out, “Scott bundles up all of his guilt and negative memories and crams them away in hopes that he can forget them and be able to live with himself. Ramona on the other hand, ends every relationship the same way: she runs away as far as she can, as fast as she can.” (http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2012/04/learn-this-scott-pilgrim-vs-world/).  Scott can’t seem to get past the idea that Ramona is his ideal “Dream Girl” and doesn’t notice that she has very real problems. Likewise, Ramona can’t get past the fact that Scott may have been cheating on her with Knives Chau. The idea that they both have an idea of what the other should be like as opposed to how they actually are is something that is very common in relationships. Especially newly formed relationships, this as you can see can be a serious problem for someone in their 20’s to deal with emotionally because they have yet to have developed the maturity of say someone twice their age.

How I Met Your Mother: The importance of friends

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In the television series How I Met Your Mother, the show follows main character Ted Mosby as he navigates relationship after relationship trying to find his future wife. There is one constant throughout the show for Ted, his friendships with Marshall, Lilly, Robin and Barney. While the title of the show may denote how Ted finds the future mother of his children, it is much more about how important friendship is as one transitions through their 20’s and all the problems that arise from such an important phase in life.

The relationships-

Ted and Marshall: The two of them are best friends who use to be dorm mates back in college. Marshall is someone who Ted can always count on, more importantly Ted will model what his ideal relationship will be like based on Marshall and his wife Lilly. Marshall always seems to be able to call Ted on his stuff when he is acting like a moron. There are various points in the show when Ted falls for an obviously bad choice and Marshall is there to support Ted even when he knows Ted will end up getting hurt.

Marshall and Lilly: The ideal relationship. Marshall met Lilly back in college while rooming with Ted. The three of them become great friends and end up moving to New York together. While they have their moments, for the most part they have a solid relationship and are both there for Ted when he needs them.

Barney, Ted and Marshall: Barney can be over the top. Sometimes he may get ted or Marshall into some trouble but in the end he always seems to pull through. While he met the two of them later after Ted and Marshall have already been friends for so long, he soon filled the outsider dynamic that counter balanced the relationship.

Robin and Ted: Robin was Ted’s dream girl. You could call this a best friend romance, which is worse than a regular romance because that there’s so much on the line. The two of them struggled to draw boundaries after they initially split up because the two of them still had feelings for each other. Without spoiling the ending things all work out.

This show reflects how important friends are during your young adult years. While there are ups and downs everything always works out because they have each other. This can be represented in their favorite meeting spot, the bar below Ted and Marshall’s apartment. This is where the whole group usually meets and you really start to understand the different dynamics that are prevalent in large groups of close friends, especially in this age group. As Emily Yahr points out in her article  “Overall though, “HIMYM” offered a much more valuable lesson about the importance of adult friendship, as the intense bonding in post-college years means that those friends essentially become your family.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2014/03/28/why-how-i-met-your-mother-connected-so-deeply-with-the-younger-generation/

Girls: Building a relationship with yourself 

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The show Girls may not seem to be unique to outsider observing, but what makes this show so great is because it focuses on a group of girls being unapologetically themselves or at least what they think is themselves. Girls focuses on the 4 girls you see above you, but what you don’t see above is the trials, abortions, job losses, the sexuality, the failed relationships that come and go, the friendships lost and gained. “It feels like this smartly aging show—which still has so much (sometimes too much) to say about friendship, love, and the slow-yielding benefits of self-acceptance—deserves a nudge back into the pop-culture nerve center. It’s time to re-embrace Girls, for all its complexities and frustrations. Maybe it’s even time to start arguing about it again.” https://www.wired.com/2016/03/girls-conversation/

We all know in order to maintain good relationships with our friends we need to have good healthy consistent relationships with ourselves…well this is quite the opposite for these girls and quite the opposite for any young adult. That’s what makes this show so good! Here’s a bunch of girls that everyone that’s in their 20’s can relate too. With each season, each character gains a little more insight of their own personality and with that comes loss, pain, success and triumph. That’s what life is all about.

Conclusion: or the big takeaway

Each of the shows/movies I chose, uses comedy to portray growing up in your 20’s, which for me is exactly why I chose them. Being in your 20’s is a huge transitional time. You start out being granted independence from your parents, you also dabble with knowing your supposed to be doing something productive like hold a steady job or continue your education, all while trying to find yourself. These shows allow us a break, they give us an outlet to feel relieved that some horrible situation can be relatable and with a little theatrics their even funnier than our real lives. And to be honest, they help contribute to making my life a little more “doable”.

Learn From This: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Harris O’Malley, Paging Doctor Nerd Love, http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2012/04/learn-this-scott-pilgrim-vs-world/

Why ‘How I Met Your Mother’ connected so deeply with the younger generation, Emily Yahr, director,The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2014/03/28/why-how-i-met-your-mother-connected-so-deeply-with-the-younger-generation/

Girls Is the Best Show No One’s Talking About Right Now, WIRED, Brian Raftery, https://www.wired.com/2016/03/girls-conversation/

 

 

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11 thoughts on “The portrayal of relationships of young adults in movies and television

  1. Your blog post was a really awesome read! It felt like a true blog while reading it. The first thing that I really liked was the variety of sources you chose. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, HIMYM, and Girls highlight different relationships as you pointed out: partners, friends, and a self-relationship, respectively. The only source I have personally seen is HIMYM but I think all the sources and your commentary offer some insight about young adult’s relationships. Partners must learn and face their pasts to be transparent in a relationship. Friends are important in the lives of young adults throughout all the ups and downs. Allowing ourselves to truly find where we belong despite feeling we should already know or be at that point. Seeing as I am almost 20, I agree with your conclusion in saying that being a young adult is a huge transitional period where we are expected to know everything about ourselves and future.

  2. Your post was a fun read! When I read the title, I was expecting this post to be more on the negative side. I really liked that you took it in a different direction. Instead of taking the portrayals of 20 year olds into offense, you saw it as an allowance for a break. I wish you the best of luck transitioning into your 20s!

  3. I loved this post! It was very engaging and entertaining. I like how you chose different representations of people in their twenties rather than just analyzing one aspect of being in your twenties. Its a crazy time of life! I have never seen Girls, but I have seen How I Met Your Mother (my favorite show) and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I think I liked the usage of Scott Pilgrim the best. That movie is incredibly symbolic. I remember the first time I had to deal with one of my partner’s exes. It was horrendous the first time and I was the type of person back then who just wanted to pretend the past didn’t exist. Being in your twenties and having to deal with serious, adult relationships for the first time definitely feels like entering a new world. Fantastic post!

  4. I really liked your post because I am in my late 20s at this point and have been going to college on and off for almost 10 years now… I often think of how my life would be different if I had focused more and tried to get school out of the way in a traditional 4-5 year time span. I think about who I was at 21 and who I am now at 26, and it absolutely a different human.

    So much growth and development happens to us when we are in our 20s and I think it gets overlooked a lot when people watch these types of shows. It is important to pay attention to how hard it is to establish relationships and know when to walk away vs. when to hunker down and stick with someone, for example the different between Scott Pilgrim’s relationships vs. Ted’s relationships. The connection is very different. Great post. 🙂

  5. We are having a similar topic, and your theme is very effective for this paper. There is no doubt that young adults have been taking their important roles in the world, and their thoughts became the serious thing we are caring about. It is very interesting to write about young people which is the age we are in, we are writing something about ourselves, it is fun to look back what were on the blog in a few year later and it would be so meaningful.

  6. Your post read like a real blog, I really enjoyed it! I agree that the 20s can be a hectic time for everyone. Living on your own, building and maintaining adult relationships, having a full-time job all combine to make for a stressful but pivotal time in our lives. I especially like the sources you used. I’ve never seen Girls but Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is one of my favorite movies, and I’ve watched How I Met Your Mother religiously for years (except for the last season). Being able to relate to these characters has kept me sane. Great post!

  7. Hey there!
    While scrolling through all of these posts my eyes locked on to yours because I love How I met your mother. I actually watch that show every night. I liked your review on the show about all the different types of relationships that went on through the movie. One relationship that I noticed you have left out is the Barney, Ted and Robin part. I feel like all three of them put their friendship of their whole group on a thin rope throughout the movie. I would love to hear your opinion on their relationship.

  8. Great post. I like how you had different representations not just one. It was great reading because I am also in my 20s so it definitely connects with me and my life. It’s all about growing and finding yourself. It can get hectic because there is so much going on all at once. But i really enjoyed reading this.

  9. I really enjoyed reading your post, I like how you included three important stages. 1. Dealing with the past, 2. Importance of friendship, and 3. building a relationship with yourself these are all very important steps that I feel many do go through between the twenties. Like you said these sources were relatable as well as a good laugh when exaggerated. I definitely feel like right now at our age group we are constantly learning from our mistakes and using them as an extra push to step out of our comfort zone and make a change. Great post!

  10. Hey Kevin,

    Your post was actually the very first that I read, and I think you did a really great job. I think the identity you decided to focus on was a very wise choice as all of us can relate to the feeling of being or once being young. I really loved that your post not only analyzed the messages given through shows like How I Met Your Mother and Girls, but you also seemed to be promoting a bright and positive message as well.

    I have grown up in Portland my entire life, and as a result I have been able to develop many true, long term friendships. And as an only child, these friendships have played a very significant and important role in my life and who I have become as a person. The 20’s are a tough and crucial time in the span of a life. It is a time that can be heavily impacted by the media and the messages it is promoting, especially when the most common representation on the media is from a demographic that is generally young, or at least made to look so. So it is really refreshing to hear that you found messages of friendships and self discovery during the course of your research.

  11. Hi Kevin!

    After being one of those that was able to do your peer reviews, I was excited to see where your final piece would direct towards; and it’s great! I think that focusing on three different but prevalent trends among 20 year olds helped give a more rounded perspective of relationships, while specifying the focus on young adults. I thought you did a great job with sounding unbiased in your writing. The piece about Scott Pilgrim is the most interesting to me, because when you think of relationships, you think of those between people (typically), but bringing in the relationship with past experiences brought a new lens to the situation.

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