Monday, March 31, 2014

Top 7 Reasons I Politely Disagree with The HIMYM Series Finale

Hi guys. I was all prepared to write a super heartwarming lovey-dovey goodbye to How I Met Your Mother tonight, sure I would be totally satisfied with the series finale - or at least think it was pretty ok and made sense. Unfortunately, things started tanking pretty quickly... Obvs, EVERYTHING BELOW IS A SPOILER.

First of all, I am but a fan of the show, not one of the writers or creators, so I'm not going to pretend to be all high and mighty about what they "should" or "should not" have done. I'm also not going to say that anyone who loved the finale is wrong. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I have this blog so that I can express mine - also, for puppies.

With that disclaimer, these are the things - in no particular order - that I, personally, strongly disliked about the finale, and its reflections on the series as a whole:

1) Annoying old lady. Not because she wasted serious screen time or that she was a super cliche character, but because she (almost like the much-hated-countdown-to-tragedy-clock) set us up for a fun, happy, light-hearted finale when instead its tone was depressing and cynical. Makes the gut-punch feel worse and also like, what's the point?
2) Tracy = Fertile Robin Stand-In with a convenient cancer (or other mysterious illness) timer. The one saving grace about this whole season has been Cristin Milioti's great acting, which made me feel like Ted was finally going to grow up for her. The writers put her through a lot (Did she have to be miserable for ten years before finding Ted? Really? Did she have to have a dead boyfriend she never got over? I guess the best you could say is that he was her "real" soulmate and she was finally able to escape Ted through the kiss of death to be reunited with him??), but it was all under the guise of "she'll be happy when she's with Ted." But then after ten years of pain and suffering, she only gets six years of happiness? And Ted gets to have the rest of his life with the woman he was in love with the entire time before he met Tracy - with the added bonus of the kids he always wanted but couldn't have with Robin? So, essentially, Ted sacrifices nothing and gets everything he ever wanted, entirely at the expense of Tracy (and Robin). Tracy got screwed. Royally. I know it's not her story, but since she was kind of the most likeable character by the end, it just seems messed up. At least in Definitely, Maybe (which has the same "twist" ending), they just got a divorce. They didn't kill off the poor girl's mom. Plus, I just fucking hate it when people throw in the "too beautiful to live" character who dies peacefully without a fight and gives everyone permission to be happy when they're gone because they're wise beyond their needlessly shortened years. And I can be pissed about that because I'm one of those people. And I take it as a personal insult. Sick people are not doormats.
3) Robin's a sad/famous dog lady. Way to put the nail in the coffin of the "career vs. kids/love" debate. "Kids, the thing about life is... you'll never be fulfilled until you finally give into that creepy guy who obsessed over you for 15 years. Doesn't matter if you have a killer job that lets you travel all over the world and break stories that change lives. Nothing will make you happy until you're with that douche-face who, when telling his children about their dead mother, is really talking about how you were the love of his life all along." I mean, she's literally back at the beginning of the show - dogs she can't control and all - showing how miserable she is to be alone. Not to mention, they more than hinted that it was her career that broke up her marriage with Barney ("I have to travel for work" "You hate it when I'm here. You hate it when I'm gone" - Where's Barney's say in all this?). She stops hanging out with everyone for the very legitimate reason that it's weird to be around your ex-boyfriend and ex-husband and they act like she's a bad friend. Also, Ted gets to have two "loves of his life"and Robin for 12 years is just super sad because all she has is Ted?
4) Marshall gets to be a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. Lily gets to have more babies. It's just frustrating that Lily's career is never brought up again after Rome. And if her main thing is being a mom (if so, more power to her), why is she never seen with their kids? Or even like she loves being a mom (instead of just being a vessel for baby-manufacturing) and is happy for any other reason than Marshall's success? I know it might seem like a small thing, but I think it was emphasized in the fact that she was the only one who seemed to want to get the gang back together all the time, like this was all she had. Of all the characters, you wouldn't have thought she would be the mopey, nostalgic one living in the past - give that to Ted or Barney. Also, of all the characters, she was the one whose career and dreams were never taken seriously. And here it shows just how little that changed.
5) Throw away nine years of Barney's character growth to emphasize how much more important having a child is than anything else (again). Just because a marriage failed, doesn't mean you didn't learn anything from the experience. And just because a couple is childless doesn't meant that their marriage isn't real or worth growing up for. Plus, although Barney "flipped a switch" when he met his daughter, in the end he's the opposite end of the same, sexist spectrum. Instead of being a misogynistic character who preys on women's self-esteem issues, he's a paternalistic character who blames women for their self-esteem issues. I know that's how Barney began, but he became so much more. It was a shame to see that thrown away.
6) Ted and Robin's relationship was self-destructive and childish, and yet it's the love we're supposed to believe in? HIMYM did a great job (clearly, far too great) of showing how devastating Ted's obsession with Robin was to his relationships and to her. He really messed her up. When he finally let her go, it was a huge relief. It may have been about fives years too late, but they both seemed free of the weight of this classic "Nice Guy" who deserves the girl because he's romantic and won't take no for an answer. It's not real love, and if HIMYM wanted to give us a more "real" finale (what with the divorce and death and all) than the standard sitcom, I'm a little disturbed by what they think real love is.
7) I think, in the end, I was disappointed that they didn't take a risk and follow the story and the characters instead of the outline. Nine years ago, they wrote that Ted and Robin ended up together. Nine years later, they were too afraid to admit that things had changed.

But that's life. Things change. People change. And with writing - you go through draft after draft, you scrap your ending, you write a new beginning, you rewrite your middle, you rewrite and rewrite until your characters are alive and your story tells its own ending. You don't shoehorn your final draft to fit your first. Because, quite frankly, your first draft is always, and forever will be, the worst thing you ever write.

In the end, kids, writers all know that you have to kill your babies - not your mothers.

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