We don’t often see death in comic strips and sit-coms. But on “How I Met Your Mother,” Marshall Erickson (Jason Segal) lost his beloved father Marvin (played by Bill Fagerbakke). And the title character in Garry Trudeau’s comic strip, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary of publication, lost his feisty mother Daisy. In both cases, the deaths occurred out of sight but the audience shared in the loss as we see the impact on the characters that to some of us feel like family.
Doonesbury has run a week of strips about the memorial service for Daisy, mostly focusing on the insensitive behavior of Mike’s ex-wife J.J. and his brother. In “How I Met Your Mother,” Marshall, who was very close to his parents, got the bad news in the last moment of the episode. I hope future shows will show Marshall and his wife Lily as they try to understand their loss and find a way to keep the best of Marshall’s father close to them.
I admire both Doonesbury and “How I Met Your Mother” for their willingness to bring the challenges of parental loss to their stories.