OMG A POST! I had some thoughts, and I wanted to record them while they were still relevant. So here we go!
I've discussed my complicated relationship with How I Met Your Mother before. Lately, I've found myself really displeased with recent developments on the show. Allow me to elaborate. (Also, this should go without saying, but BIG HIMYM SEASON 8 SPOILERS AHEAD).
I have become increasingly jaded with several of the show's major characters. Primarily Barney and Ted, and additionally Robin. Which sucks, because they've had some really great characterization and moving storylines over the seasons. Lately, though, I've been feeling like a lot of that has been undone by purely repetitive themes, reverting to previous behavior and undoing "good" development, and just general... SHITTINESS. They've become people that I once found entertaining and endearing, and now find repulsive, selfish, and frustrating.
Lily and Marshall are seriously the major lifeline I have left for this show, and I'm pretty sure a large part of that is because of my attachment to the actors themselves. IT'S WILLOW AND NICK. I HAVE TO LOVE THEM ON PRINCIPLE OKAY.
Anyway. Allow me to discuss why the recent engagement and impending marriage of Barney and Robin is leaving me totally cold. It's not supposed to. I'm sure I'm supposed to be rooting for these two bigtime. But I am not.
They've both been steadily moving toward these sort of unlikeable shells of their former selves. Barney's always been questionable for me, saved only by NPH's comedic timing and what little characterization he had, but has lately become very unlikeable. Robin has become MEAN. Not like, "Oh my gawd girls are so catty and awful." No, like not a nice person.
I feel like I was supposed to be very moved by the whole "Last Page" episode, but I was not. Having Robin lampshade the fact that Barney created an elaborate scheme WITH WHICH TO LIE AND MANIPULATE HER EMOTIONS does not make the fact forgivable. I'm supposed to root for these two now? No. Does everyone comprehend how horrible this was? Instead of acting like 30+ year old adult people, they did all this ridiculous screwing around with other relationships they were only half into and using a genuinely nice person as a means to an end and trying to play on one another's weaknesses and I'm supposed to think this is sweet?
And poor Patrice. My darling Patrice. Did Robin ever even thank her for the part she played? Did Barney? Of course not. Because Patrice exists to be the butt of the joke, the saccharine-sweet punching bag for Robin to yell at for a laugh. Why? She's TOO ENTHUSIASTIC and likes Robin TOO MUCH. Besides, everyone knows Barney doesn't date FATTIES! Turns out there was no change of heart for him. The idea that he'd actually stop being a pig and appreciate inner beauty (in addition to non-stereotypical beauty) is laughable. And Patrice genuinely thinks Robin is her friend and agrees to this nonsensical scheme because she wants to make Robin happy.
This is just another tick-mark on the (very short) list of recurring PoC characters on this show that were stomped on, run over, and left in the dust to pave the way for the RoBarney Express. This is a point I don't feel entirely qualified to comment on, being a SUPER WHITE LADY, but it did not escape my notice that Nora (British-Iranian) and Kevin (Indian-American), in addition to Patrice (Filipino-American) all were roundly used during the show's great quest to give Robin and Barney a twisted fairy tale ending. If someone else wants to elaborate on this, please do. I will link you like wow!
BACK TO BARNEY. So, Barney made this big show about "The Last Play He'd Ever Run" and shit, but he kept the freaking Playbook, lied to Robin about it, and continued thinking about WAYS TO SCREW OTHER WOMEN. When Robin gets rightfully pissed the fuck off about this (So, our engagement was a sham ON TOP of a sham. How romantic!), Barney tells her TO HER FACE that he is using misdirection tactics to make her not mad at him anymore as he literally does magic tricks to distract her/make her smile. He barely apologizes, admits that he is and always will be a liar, but somehow she can trust that when he says he loves her, he's telling the truth. And she apparently buys this. YAH OK.
This is some Pick-Up Artist bullshit. Also, let me give a hearty round of sarcastic golfclaps for completely undoing the iota of positive characterization displayed when Barney supposedly symbolically burned the Playbook the first time. Nothing's changed at all, hurray! If I was supposed to be impressed that he let CRAAAAZY JEANETTE blow it up, than that ploy faceplanted pretty hard. He probably has eight more stashed somewhere. Over it.
Anyway, let's move on to TED FUCKING MOSBY. Am I really supposed to continue giving a shit about this character and his endless quest to find the mother of his children? Every woman he's dated has become a subsequent joke, a punchline on his punchcard toward finding his "real" love. Jeanette, his most recent ex, literally only serves the purpose of acting SO WACKY AND CRAZY that he finally realizes (really for real this time, guys!) that he wants to find a proper, nice, marriageable girl. Her role is literally "the last woman I dated before I met your mother." She's a stepping stone. A comedic placeholder.
Just like every other woman he's dated - either a LIFE-RUINING BITCH or a SO CRAY-CRAY EX or A JOKE. Even Robin, who we're supposed to LIKE, has crushed poor Ted's heart. Aw. Poor baby. I'd love to see a spinoff show of all the women he's dated, illustrating all the ways in which they're PERFECTLY NORMAL and he was the one being awful. You know, like the "Slutty Pumpkin" episode (ugh) in which Katie Holmes' character reveals that while Ted thought she was being super clingy, she thought HE was being the weird, clingy one and was trying not to hurt his feelings.
Whereas some of the previous relationships were treated like missed opportunities -- wrong place, wrong time, wrong person -- his relationships have steadily become "which wacky joke-slut will Ted date next, only to be leave them for Robin and/or his own insecurity?" Is the only thing that makes a Ted Mosby conquest relevant becoming The Mother? Not even The Wife or The Partner. The Mother. I just can't. This is our protagonist, everybody. Hey, Ted. MAYBE THE COMMON DENOMINATOR IN THESE HORRIBLE RELATIONSHIPS IS YOU. THIS STOPPED BEING CUTE 3-4 SEASONS AGO.
Why, How I Met Your Mother? Why are you doing me like this? I miss the show that was about friendship, and love, and support, and being a 20-30-something, and yelling comically at your roommate for not buying new milk. I don't like this snickering child that's just passing the time with ranchy sex jokes and introducing more CRAY-CRAY lady characters until they finally reach the long-belabored climax.
Sigh. I'm still holding on for the few little bright flashes. And for Marshall and Lily. And Patrice. I think Patrice deserves a parade, personally.
And boy, when we finally meet the woman who exists purely on the outskirts of this story that was supposed to be about HER, I hope she's treated as a real person instead of a doll for Ted to fill with babies. But I'm not really holding my breath.
S.E. Sinkhorn, an author of young adult fiction. She loves the ocean, Phoenix Wright, and garlic popcorn. She blogs about YA, writing, publishing, pop culture, and the occasional weird news story. You can call her Steph. Welcome to her world.
She is represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary.
If you would like to contact her, the email address [sesinkhorn] at [gmail] dot [com] may work in your favor. She also moderates the YA!Flash tumblr.