HIMYM: Why I'm Over Barney and Robin. And Ted.

| Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Today's Tune: Ships in the Night

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, then 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 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.

Do you guys watch? What do you think?


{ Mrs. Silverstein } at: February 27, 2013 at 5:20 AM said...

YES to all of that--and I have to say, despite her Willowness, I'm kind of over Lily, too. (Especially since her whole, "I'm JUST a kindergarten teacher" breakdown. America's teachers would like to thank you for that characterization of our work, HIMYM. But even before that, the show's been pushing her into "all women are crazy" territory.
(This show always makes me think of Donald Glover's standup about why men have crazy ex-girlfriend stories but women don't have crazy ex-boyfriend stories. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a Google. But really, imagine if HIMYM was gender-reversed--particularly the Jeannette plotline!)

{ Kristan Hoffman } at: February 27, 2013 at 5:32 AM said...

I hear you, and I agree... but as your earlier post asserts, it's possible to enjoy problematic media, and I guess that's still where I'm at with this show, personally. Are they straining my tolerance? Absolutely. But have they busted it? Not quite yet. And yes, Lily and Marshall are probably a big part of that. I loved the episode before this most recent one, the one with the Captain, and Lily's confession to Marshall. (And even Barney's confession to Robin and Ted.) That episode, with its multiple retellings from different perspectives, and its core heart-to-heart moments, reminded me of the best of HIMYM.

(As for the woman in question being "defined" the Mother, I think that's simply because the context of the show is that he's telling this long@$$ story to his kids. Also, I think we are ALWAYS supposed to question the accuracy/reliability of Ted as a narrator. So I personally don't get too worked up about those particular points.)

(The lack of diversity, however... And the drifting away from friendship in your 20s/30s... Those make me sad.)

{ Aurora Smith } at: February 27, 2013 at 6:22 AM said...

I've never really gotten into that show. However if I were his kids I'd be like, "I'm over it daddy0o, I dont care anymore!"

{ Paul Anthony Shortt } at: February 27, 2013 at 7:07 AM said...

I've only seen a few episodes here and there, and they were earlier episodes.

But I get very prickly about seeing unhealthy relationships pitched as something the audience is meant to get behind. Not many things turn me off a book, movie or tv show as fast as writers brushing past serious relationship problems like adultery or emotional manipulation just to rush to the happy ending.

{ Sadie } at: February 27, 2013 at 2:50 PM said...

Ted is literally the worst protagonist on television imo. He is so unlikable. What I also thought was interesting about the PoC characters was that they were given no racial or cultural background. I found them a bit whitewashed in their portrayal (and no I'm not saying that all PoC characters need to identify with their race but HIMYM is pretty terrible at even trying), but maybe that's just me.

{ Sarah Hipple } at: March 1, 2013 at 3:11 PM said...

My husband just became obsessed with this show and watched Seasons 1-7 in the span of less than a month. I, however, have never managed to get really into it.

However, he tells me about the continuity things they do and the way they show snippets of a story that they don't explain for over a season, and that does sound really cool. So, at least there are still cool aspects of the show from a storyteller standpoint, but, yeah, the character do have some rather unlikeable qualities. I actually like Ted least b/c he's supposed to be so nice and likable and yet he's really not all that great.

But I'll definitely be looking up the Donald Glover crazy girlfriend bit from the comment above. It sounds interesting.

{ Blair B. Burke } at: March 2, 2013 at 10:35 AM said...

I think the whole thing is interesting from a writing standpoint. The writers are good. Great lines, weave together complicated stories, some awesome characters, even deep emotional scenes that work on a comedy show. Lots of talent. I think the real problem is the format.

A sitcom can't allow characters to change or grow too much without losing what they have. In TV you don't change what's working. And with HIMYM, the setup that was good at the start gets a little pathetic as the characters age but don't change. I think almost all the successful sitcoms I can think of got stale in their characterizations at the end. I get the sense that the writers have the skill to create growth and development but no incentive to do so.

{ Zai Ram } at: March 5, 2013 at 8:26 AM said...

I love this show. I think it's original and funny as hell. Ted is also my least favorite, but then again isn't that common among most sitcoms, to have the lead character as just center and not the funniest one? Take Seinfeld for instance. Jerry was the least funny. And he was the comedian! Same went for Will and Grace, and even Cheers.
What worries me is how exactly they plan on presenting this whole mother thing. Are we goinng to meet her at the end of this season, and then the last season will just be about how Ted finally gets to marry her? Or arre not going to meet her until the end of the last season? Either way, I am reaaly not all that excited to meet her anyway. I'm kind of interestedin seeing what will be of everyone else's lives.

{ Ceres } at: March 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM said...

Why is it that the left part of your website shakes in a manner that gives me epilepsy? :(

Anyways, at some point I did a marathon of HIMYM watching (S1-5) and I have to admit that the show is consistently watchable and engaging. There is clever use of the serial format to ensure there is anticipation for what happens next episode and each episode has at least some laugh out loud moments. Certainly there are talented writers behind this show.

I do think that I'm not the audience of this show and that its attitudes are not mine. Over the years the main cast acquires so many weird characteristics that I find unlikable, mostly all of them being irrational, yet they ask me to find it endearing.

I just picked a random HIMYM episode to see if my feelings for the show had changed. I picked "Stuff" from Season 2, which is about Robin and Ted having a fight over items from old love interests that they kept around instead of destroying it, and both of them behaved so bizarrely and irrationally that I immediately realized why I found the show so annoying before.

{ Riley Murchan } at: August 23, 2013 at 6:33 AM said...

Robin and Barney have to stop. They get together with other people, sleep with anything that moves and we're supposed to believe that they are meant to be. Please.

I'm so over these two. Their repetitive storyline is driving me insane. They don't have any chemistry together. Robin was perfect with Don, and then the writers messed that up by completely changing Don's personality and making him seem like the bad guy.

And who would want to be with a guy who has slept with nearly 300 women? Give me a break. They do NOT belong together.

{ Miss Jonna } at: June 15, 2014 at 10:44 AM said...

Thank yooou for writing what I feel!

I HATE the Barney and Robin relationship.
It's awful.

But then again, I've hated the characther of Barney since Season 1.

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