Yeah. Make something the central strand of a season and then destroy it.
Ok, fine. Relationships don't always work out, and Robin and Barney aren't exactly the most functional people or couples. But really? To make it so perfunctory? And in undoing the relationship, to also undo all of the character development Barney has undergone over the last 9 years in one fell swoop? It's insulting to the characters and the viewers.
But fuck Barney and Ted. What I really want to talk about is how the finale made me feel like HIMYM had failed to understand and had let down all of its female characters. Let's take a look, shall we?
seasons wore on the characters became less relatable
All of Barney's growth dashed on the rocks of his failed relationship with Robin and return to form. Forget the emotional reunion with his dad or the heart to hearts with his brother â in the HIMYM universe character growth is a myth and noone ever really changes. Barney is a one-note womaniser and that is epitomised by the fact he gets a women pregnant and we never find out her name. Oh, sure, he's besotted with his baby daughter, but do we really think he'll be a half decent father?
One of the tensions throughout the last season was that Lily had landed her dream job in Rome and shortly after Marshall was offered a Judgeship. The early, false, resolution to this storyline, with Lily telling Marshall they should stay in the USA because they had a family, made me angry â the actual resolution, with Marshall realising that of course they should take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and move to Italy for a year, made me cheer. Lily has spent a lot of her time treated as an appenage to Marshall, and it was good to see her fulfill an ambition.
Unfortunately the writers seemed to think that that was it. In the flash forwards during the last two episodes we see Marchall struggle with corporate law and then finally become a judge. And Lily? Well she gets pregnant again. Is she a happy stay at home mother? Is she working freelance or parttime and juggling that with childcare? Has she remained in the Captain's employ and hired a nanny? Who knows. In earlier seasons Marshall talked about his desire for a large family but Lily didn't necessarily agree. Perhaps she changed her mind. We always knew she was happy and proud to support Marshall, but what happened to the rest of her? The artist? The dreamer?
Oh, Robin. Leaving aside my crush on Cobie Smulders, I still enjoyed her character greatly. Ex-popstar, ambitious newscaster, gun-toting, whiskey-drinking Canadian dog owner with daddy issues, Robin was interesting, confident, and way out of Ted's league. Their on-again off-again romance/ infatuation got a bit annoying, then a lot annoying, then just a sidenote as the mother started to take focus. Robin was always Aunt Robin and we always knew she wouldn't get with Ted. I loved the fact that here was a woman who was vocal about not wanting children. I was conflicted over the storyline where she found she was infertile but at least we knew it meant the writers couldn't change their minds and turn her into the mother. It was satisfying to see Ted let go of her in the run-up to her wedding to Barney, and good to see her continue to pursue her career.
And then. Flash forward. This independently wealthy, ex-popstar, journalist is still living in a second floor walkup and has a group of dogs. And when Ted turns up to woo her she's delighted. In other words, she's exactly who and where she was in the very first season.
Not in my head. In my head she's a glamorous, successful journalist with lovers on each continent.
Which brings us to...
The mother (Tracy)
Only given a name right towards the end. Cristin Miloti did a wonderful job of bringing the character to life in a short amount of time, making her someone we could see being the ideal match for Ted. We watched their first kiss, saw the relationship blossom, and then sooner than she arrived she was gone. A storyline like that should provoke emotion beyond an eyeroll, but it didn't. It was rushed and messy and a waste.
In the end, she was little more than a plot device to give Ted the children he craved and who made the show exist, before he got back together with Robin.
How I met your Maguffin, more like.
Was HIMYM a long, gentle love story? No, it was a dead-eyed tale of how people never change and men should always get the girl they want, no matter what the cost.