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.
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
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.
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
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/