Tim Lieder (marlowe1) wrote,

Fine. I have to say something about How I Met Your Mother here too

There is a paper on feminism in India that isn't writing itself and I'm going to stay up all night writing it, but it's been two days and I'm still bothered by the ending of HIMYM. This was a show that could be so damn good and never egregiously awful. And many have said it better than me, but How I Met Your Mother had a predetermined ending that they should have burned 2-3 years ago - the time when the show was feeling like it was going on too long. The irony is that the ending WOULD have worked had the show gotten canceled by season 5. That would have been a fine time to end the show with that "Mom's dead. Now I can go fuck Robin!" ending because if we remember that season, it was the season where Robin met the newscaster who was being built up as the perfect guy for her - the one that pushed her out of the sitcom orbit of hanging out with her two ex-boyfriends and into a new phase in her life. The last few episodes would have Ted finding the mother with the yellow umbrella firmly in the mythology.

Hell, season 6 could have had the wedding be Punchy's wedding where Ted met Tracey. We could have even been spared fucking Zoey. It would have been pretty weak since there were way too many repetitions of the fact that Ted and Robin were fucking horrible together. It would have been a stupid way to end the series by that point.

But with seasons 7-9 - fuck you, no.

And here's where I admit that I actually liked the last three seasons - for the most part - they weren't nearly as muddled as the middle three seasons (4-6) that seemed to be screaming "Fuck! We only planned this out for three seasons. How are we going to drag this out?" There were some good bits but there was also signs of desperation. By contrast seasons 7-9 knew the end game.

There was a great character arc with Barney and Robin. They were both growing up and changing and becoming more complete people. The Barney and Robin that were moving to get together in seasons 7-9 were not the same as the "ok, they are together now and they make each other miserable so let's forget about it" couple from season 5. They weren't like fucking JD and Elliot on Scrubs who were the same narcissistic children throughout the series, so pushing them together after season 1 was just going back to the same well. Barney was dealing with his father leaving him. Robin was dealing with her issues. They weren't Whacky Characters. They were people who were capable of growth and change. There was even the season 7 where Barney goes "that's not me anymore" to the running joke about him picking up random women in bars.

And then the last season introduced Tracy (who got stuck as "the mother") and she was amazing. It was hard not to fall in love with that character. And even more important, she was the kind of smart and cool romantic that Ted should have been with - with many of his idiosyncrasies and some great call backs to the episodes where he was hearing about her. "How Your Mother Met Me" was pure wonder.

You would think that the writers would have watched their own damn show and realized that their "happy ending" of letting Ted get back with his original love was fucking horrible. Or they could have paid attention to the last few seasons to see just how painful it got whenever Ted declared his love for Robin and how fucking out of nowhere it went.

But really, the main issue is with Barney and Robin. Mostly Barney. When I watched the second to last show where they got married, I felt like I was watching the greatest sitcom in creation - surpassing even Community, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Party Down - and it proved just how much other writers fucked up their shows by locking their characters into the same damn characters. Sometimes it works but only in broad comedies like Arrested Development or It's Always Sunny. With shows where the characters are mostly realistic (no one is completely realistic in a sitcom - or any drama for that matter) there needs to be change and growth, else you get Scrubs or The Gilmore Girls (not a sitcom, I know) where there is an illusion of change but ultimately everyone is stuck in the same place.

And then Robin went back to being the career woman who easily left a relationship and Barney just went back to guy with Playbook. And hell, even the writers knew that it was pathetic when they had Lily and Marshall point out how sad it was that he was still the guy trying to pick up women with tricks. And we were supposed to be spared that Barney - the guy trying to relive past glory even though he should have grown out of it - by that marriage. Yes, that character can be funny like in The World's End but in real life, it's Harlan Ellison being a smartass teenager well into his senior years or old alcoholics living with their parents.

Granted, there were episodes where the writers went "ok, we are going to make Barney creepy again for laughs" (particularly in that pre-nup episode of the 8th season), but making him creepy again with a Playbook and then doing the "he is a father so now he's not creepy" act is just dumb. And sexist.

But yeah, the ending that they had in mind sucked. It didn't suck the first few seasons, but by season 9, it was terrible.

And what made it suck was there was so much better stuff going on. The scene where Ted and Tracy met was damn near perfect and then they just crapped on it.

So this helps a little (even if it doesn't address the way they destroyed two of the characters) but it still bothers.
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