Meet Market Monday: Robin Scherbatsky

Courtesy CBS

Today’s edition of Meet Market Monday is a bit of a cheat, because our subject happens to be in the news a lot recently thanks to a certain video clip making the rounds and creating quite the stir on the intertubes.

She loves guns and scotch. She’s a pro at laser tag, and can duke it out in a hockey fight with the best of them. She’s a globetrotter and a transplanted New Yorker.

She’s also a former teenage pop star in Canada. (What does that look like, you ask?)

Name: Robin Scherbatsky
Occupation: Reporter
Show: How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

On the surface, Robin (Cobie Smulders) might seem like a bit of a Mary Sue. She’s a beautiful woman in a glamorous job with a great wardrobe, but she loves hanging with the guys and indulging in stereotypically male pastimes. But she is so much more than her origins, even if her dad did always want her to be a boy.

Meet Robin Scherbatsky!

Courtesy CBS

Courtesy CBS

Robin was a character to whom I took an immediate liking, from my very first episode of How I Met Your Mother. Sure, it was fun to see a successful, confident woman grace my TV screen in a new sitcom. Yet what I really loved were her layers. She was good at her job, even if it was at godawful hours at a crummy local station, but she was vulnerable in her personal life. She dated men, but was insistent that she wasn’t sure if long-term relationships were for her. What was refreshing was that Robin always reiterated that it was about her choice. Yes, there was a little bit of a screwed-up-childhood backstory to explain some of her reluctance to “settle down” with someone, but she also took on responsibility for her actions. Simply put, she didn’t know if she wanted to ever be a bride or mother, and she was okay with that.

When future love interest Ted (Josh Radnor) admitted early on that he was in love with her, she shot him down — not because she was being cruel, but because she could see how sweet (if overbearing) he really was, and she didn’t want to lead him on. She’d just never been interested in those types of relationships in the past, and she felt no need to fake that for his sake, or her own.

Courtesy CBS

Courtesy CBS

Even when she began to return Ted’s feelings, and eventually dated him, I liked that Robin was still open about her fears and insecurities, without becoming a needy mess. She admitted this was a learning experience for herself, and opened herself up to it, even knowing it might lead to heartbreak. Much like her decision to move to the United States for her career, leaving everything she knew back in Canada, she took the risk with Ted, understanding the rewards probably outweighed the drawbacks.

I have to say that one of my favorite scenes of the entire series is when Ted and Robin reached a breaking point in their relationship at the end of the second season; all along, Robin had insisted she might never want to get married, and she never planned on having kids. Ted, on the other hand, knew he always would want both of those things. But, he was in love with Robin, and put those desires on the back burner while they dated, because he didn’t want to be without her. The issue finally came to a head, when Robin was ready to travel the world and have adventures, and their stances simply came down to this:

Robin: I don’t want to have kids in Argentina.
Ted: And I don’t want to have kids in Argentina.

That little distinction said it all; there was no big blowout argument and no one was made into the “bad guy.” They were just two people who loved each other very much, but wanted different things out of their lives, and had the maturity to understand it wasn’t fair to either party to keep up the lie. It struck me that the marriage/kids argument had rarely even been handled so succinctly on any show I’d ever watched before I started watching HIMYM, and I was very grateful to the writers for not making Robin’s stance (or Ted’s for that matter) a result of some grievance against the universe. She just wasn’t into the idea, but respected others who felt otherwise. One could be happily childless, while celebrating friends’ milestones.

Courtesy CBS

Courtesy CBS

Sure, Robin stumbled along the way. There were failed romances and questionable career choices, but she took all the experiences in stride, and in the end they all became stepping stones to the life she wanted. She went from local reporter (albeit on a newscast nobody watched) to a researcher at a major network — a step down on paper, but a huge step up in experience in the big leagues — because she wasn’t afraid to pay her dues to get what she wanted. Eventually, her plan worked, often with laughs along the way.

I love that Robin was competent at her job, even when the job itself was a joke. She had dreams of making it as a foreign correspondent, and she was going to get there, even if it meant stepping in horse feces on the late night news in New York, because at least that was a step towards her dream. I sometimes think she didn’t get enough credit for her work ethic, when she was arguably the most driven character on the show in that respect.

Courtesy CBS

Courtesy CBS

Robin was also a steadfast friend, even after breaking up with two of the closest men in her life. Once the awkwardness passed, she would still do anything to back them up. She stood by best friend Lily (Alyson Hannigan), giving her a shoulder to cry on, or a swift kick in the ass, when either were warranted. She might have been afraid of commitment romantically, but she wouldn’t leave the gang’s side for anything, if they needed her. For all the jokes they made about Robin’s occasional emotional stuntedness, she was often the source of unexpected wisdom and maturity for the others, keeping her head cool whenever crises emerged. She was the one you wanted in your corner when you were having a meltdown.

She enjoyed nice clothes to go out, but she was just as comfortable hanging out in her beloved Canucks jersey at home. She could go to a fancy cigar lounge with Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and drink finely-aged scotch like a pro, but she was as at ease drinking beer and eating wings at MacLaren’s downstairs from her apartment. She lauded Canada’s universal health care system to the derision of her American friends, but was probably more comfortable than any of them with a loaded gun in her hands. She might have been a bit of a contradiction, but it made total sense.

Courtesy CBS

Courtesy CBS

(As an aside, I love that the writers incorporated Smulders’ own nationality into Robin’s character. It wasn’t necessary for them to do so, and Robin could have been from anywhere, but the added Canadian quirk I think really cemented her trailblazing nature on TV. Canada: just like us, only with a little je ne sais quoi.)

Robin stood up for what she believed in, even if it wasn’t always popular, and for that, I am going to be grateful we had nine years with her on our screens. She was strong and knew her worth, and wasn’t afraid to let you know it, but also struggled with her emotional baggage as much as anyone else. I’m sure gonna miss hanging with her every once in a while, but I think that’s why you should all meet her, too.


How I Met Your Mother ended its nine-season run this spring. You can catch up with Robin and the gang at MacLaren’s on Netflix and DVD.

Nels
Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

One Response to Meet Market Monday: Robin Scherbatsky

  1. […] love for Robin goes deep here at TYLL, for good reason. While originally incorporated as a nod to actress’ Cobie […]

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