I’m a fan of television, Netflix especially, and that is not to say that I spend my time watching reality shows. I enjoy shows that actually create a world, create characters that act apart from the authorial hand. Shows like House of Cards and True Detective show me that this can be masterfully accomplished when it comes to drama shows. And up till tonight, I thought that How I Met Your Mother was going to be one of those shows that accomplished this in the genera of romantic comedy sitcoms. And everyone knows how easy it is to want to tie things up in a neat little bow when it comes to comedy and romances. Hell, that’s the hallmark of comedy. That’s what differentiates it from tragedy. They’re both about incoherences, but comedy ties up the world in a happy union, often literally (think marriage).
But over the past nine years HIMYM has been defying all of these hallmarks. Yes, there are the similarities to Friends, yes the character Ted was a whiny piece of shit, yes Lily and Marshall were sometimes too perfect. But HIMYM exposed the inconsistencies inbetween these relationships and allowed for these characters to grow and become themselves and become different from who they were when the writers first started the show.
The Lily from season one would never have decided to give up her dreams of Italy for Marshall and her family. She would have been too frightened. But even, Lily, the most fucking annoying character from seasons one to four was redeemed so much because she grew as a character. They all did. Barney, Robin, even Ted. That’s the problem. They grew so much over nine years and then in the span of forty-two minutes all of that growing and becoming was stripped away into the writer’s idealistic fantasy. If the show had ended after season one, Ted would’ve ended up with Robin, Barney would’ve been a single dad (most likely), and Lily and Marshall would’ve been happy together. Just because they decided from the get go that the mother dies doesn’t mean that every thing else that the characters went through over the past nine years didn’t matter.
Barney promised Robin, his one vow, the last vow, was that he would never lie to her. He would already be honest. If they were married for three years and he had problems with them moving around a lot then he would have said something and they would have strived to fix it. But it seemed like all it took was one fight and they just called it quits. That’s what season one Barney and Robin would’ve done. It’s like the writers forgot who they were dealing with. Everything these characters do in these last forty-minutes completely negates the people they have grown to become after nine years. I keep saying nine years because the fact that people grow after time is important; whether or not they are real people or fictional characters. Lily and Marshall would’ve fought harder for Robin. Barney would’ve have regressed to such an extent. He was in a more realistic state after Quinn.
I’m not one to often write about television shows, or even voice my opinion on the internet, but the disrespect for character development and character actualization upsets me. We’re at an age where we don’t need happy endings. If Robin and Barney had divorced, Ted had a dead wife, and Lily and Marshall were still happily married, now that would be realistic. Sometimes you can’t have things wrap up in a neat little bow. Sometimes some people just end up alone. And that’s okay. But the fact that they felt that they had to press Ted ending up with Robin and having that happily ever after that he’d always dreamed of is upsetting. Why set ourselves up for an unrealistic ideal. Why not present the audience with a realistic ideal, that then will cause the audience to strive beyond that?