Scandinavian Stereotypes in How I Met Your Mother Elsa, Hilkka, and Kerttu Vähänen ENGA17 U.S. Popular Culture Fall 2013 How I Met Your Mother HIMYM American sitcom (CBS) 2005–2014; 9 seasons Tells about a group of friends in Manhattan Known for its unique structure and eccentric humor Pop culture references and stereotypes What Is a Cultural Stereotype? We apply our existing beliefs about the members of a cultural group to individuals The less we know about the other, the more we hang on to stereotypes We see what we expect to see, and our observations confirm the stereotype Stereotypes are often resistant to change (Lehtonen) Stereotypes in Sitcom Stereotypes are useful in sitcoms Stereotypes and the jokes related to them are already familiar to the audience The episodes are usually only 20 minutes long so the jokes have to be quick (Triezenberg 2008) Some Stereotypes about Scandinavians People are tall, blond, and pretty Descendants of Vikings Obsessed with tolerance and fairness Well-meaning but naive Enjoy winter sports Funny accent Minnesota Nice Stereotypical, overall nice behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota Also, negative qualities, such as passive aggressiveness and resistance to change Often also applied to neighboring Canadians, as well as Scandinavians (shared cultural heritage) Cultural Characteristics: Courteous Emotionally reserved Mild-mannered Polite Tend to avoid confrontation Season 1, Episode 9: Belly Full of Turkey Marshall Eriksen St. Cloud, Minnesota Population: 64,000 (almost 85% white) Many people of Scandinavian descent Marshall and Lily prepare for Thanksgiving HIMYM: St. Cloud, Minnesota (video clip) The Eriksen Family The family members display niceness exceeding even natural Minnesota Nice, to the amusement and occasional frustration of Marshall's friends Marshall says hello to strangers in the streets of N.Y.C., and he is always very polite (compare Marshall to the other main characters, especially Barney) It’s always cold and snowy in Minnesota. Minnesotan People… Are tall and blond Drink milk Wear colorful sweaters Traditional Family Values Women do the cooking Marshall’s mother is a housewife Only men can play baskiceball The men also like regular sports (f.e. Minnesota Vikings) Small Town Feeling ”People know the Eriksens” All Marshall´s friends and family members are still living in St. Cloud In the beginning of the episode, Marshall wants to start a family in St. Cloud (vs. New York) Distinctive Local Cuisine Lily is asked to prepare ”the seven layer salad” ”But this is an American holiday” The Eriksens consider themselves as ”the real Americans” Why Is It Safe to Make Fun of Minnesotans? White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) are a safe target for humor, because no one is currently discriminating them in real life A well-established ethnic group in the United States. They don’t need to struggle for their place in the society Conclusions The Scandinavian and Minnesotan stereotypes are usually represented in a similar fashion The Eriksens from HIMYM are a good example of the Scandinavian/Minnesotan stereotype The series has also seen other portrayals of Scandinavia (f.e. Sven; the Finnish people who love YouTube) Works Cited How I Met Your Mother. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last Updated 12 Nov 2013, 01:44 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Viewed 12 November 2013. Lehtonen, Jaakko. Cultural Stereotypes. Views to Finnish Culture. Department of Communication, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Viewed 12 November 2013. Minnesota Nice. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last Updated 16 Oct 2013, 21:53 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Viewed 12 November 2013. National Stereotypes. TV Tropes. TV Tropes Foundation, LLC. Viewed 12 November 2013. Triezenberg, E. Katrina. 2008. Humor in literature. In the Primer of Humour Research, Victor Raskin (ed.), 523-542. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
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