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An Open Letter to "How I Met Your Mother" Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas

By Courtney Enlow | TV Reviews | May 7, 2013 | Comments ()


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Guys. Stop. You have to stop.

So, for the most part, last night’s episode was perfectly serviceable, as most episodes have been this season and the last four seasons or so. Perhaps, after last week’s fantastically enjoyable offering (William Zabka!) I had high hopes. And, last night, you took those hopes, ground them up, put them in a French press and served me coffee made of my own murdered joy. I hope you’re happy, because I’m not. I’m not happy.

Because, everything else was fairly standard. Marshall and Lily’s storyline of packing for Rome with AnnoyingTed helping? Standard. Robin being upset but not asking for help? Standard. Barney playing laser tag with Robin’s dad? Standard, and pretty enjoyable. And, even though there’s been so much focus this season on how Robin loves Barney for who he is, both despite and because of his innate Barneyness, I knew she’d have cold feet concerns, because this is a sitcom and also because you told us that in the season premiere (Jesus, Victoria 2.0 feels like a long time ago). But then. BUT THEN. Ted shows up like the goddamn white knight of doucheville to assist Robin in her plight of destiny (she buried a locket, she’s looking for the locket, she’s mad and it was fun, then she took the loss of the locket as a sign from the universe that she’s not to marry Barney, which actually ties neatly into Robin’s character—she’s never been as strong and above it all as she always hoped to be) and she—seemingly—realizes Barney doesn’t get her like Ted does and they gaze at each other, holding hands to Wilco’s “How to Fight Loneliness.”

And, you know what? Fuck that.

Do you know what it’s been like being the sole voice of dissent, not only among Pajibans, but basically among the entire internet, for years? How it feels to defend this show and my unconditional adoration for it, and then to have you pull shit like this, beating the dead horse of Robin and Ted? Because that horse has been beaten so many times it is basically a frothy meringue now, and you continue to pour it on a pie and shove it down our throats. And I don’t want a meringue horse pie, you guys. NO ONE WANTS THAT PIE.

You guys, you have been, both in interviews and in writing, hammering home this idea that Ted must let Robin go once and for all before he can be ready to meet the mother. And, for a show so apparently insistent upon character motivations occurring entirely off-screen (see Robin’s feelings for Barney in seasons three and four and her entire sense of lost confusion during the Kal Penn period) you have either forgotten about the at least five episodes devoted to this very conceit (at the very least—by my count, we have had “Twin Beds”, “The Drunk Train”, “No Pressure”, “The Final Page”, “Band or DJ” and now this). We get it. Ted can’t let Robin go.

Except Ted is a fictitious character, one who exists entirely in your laptop. You are the ones who can’t let Ted and Robin go. And, I have to tell you, you are alone in this. No one else wants this.

No one.

Writing about this show and being a particularly vocal fan, I am often faced with the question “why are you even still watching?” And, ultimately, it’s a hard question to answer. I mean, I loved “The Office” dearly, and was wholly engrossed in the characters and what happened in their lives. But, by season five, my dedication faded, and my viewership has been spotty at best until this, the final season, out of a sense of loyalty. But, with “How I Met Your Mother”, it’s different. I’ve watched every single episode, often twice because of my husband’s grad school schedule, meaning I watch it live, then DVRed with him. Even in the days of Zoey, even in the days of Robin and Barney’s first go at coupledom, even in the days of Kal Penn and Nora, even this season with Victoria: Redux, a plot thread that effectively killed one of the best love interests the show ever produced, I’ve stood by you. Because, despite what you’ve done to these characters I love, I still love these characters. I still love this show. As much as I want to be “done”, I’m not done. In that way that only television shows can, I’ve brought these people into my life and I love them and I want to see what happens to them and how their lives end up and discover where it’s all heading.

But, you’re killing it. You’re killing my show. You’re killing your show. A show I know you must love, too. And it makes me sad to see it go out like this. Or, rather, not go out like this, to refuse to die and instead just flop around on land with brief moments of clarity and brilliance, then more sputtering and gasping, and so on, back and forth, week after week. It makes me sad to witness something I so love completely dissipated before my eyes, and not be able to let it go, because, at it’s core, I’m still committed to staying the course.

You, along with my commenters, may respond “it’s just a sitcom.” And it is. But the power of television is its ability to create lasting relationships between the viewer and the characters. I’ve cared about these people. This group of friends has been my friends for nearly nine years now. And, by dragging out this nonsense, not even just half-assing it and giving us stock standard one-off episodes, but by thrusting in these insane new relationships and characters and story arcs and then trying to convince us and yourselves that it’s somehow part of the canonical journey of the show, you’re ruining it.

Shit. You’re George Lucas.

After years of writing Ted, you’ve become Teds yourselves. Terrified to move on or let go. But, if you want greatness, you have to let go.

So just let it go.

You’re now contractually obligated to season nine, and that’s that. But, do your fans a solid, and follow the lead of, ironically enough, “The Office.” After years of mild awful, Greg Daniels came back, stepped up his game, and worked to give the fans at least some semblance of the show they loved, something they could at least give two shits about. Make season nine something we can get behind. Stop with the “will they or won’t they” and the consistent destruction of the lives of the characters we’ve come to care about so deeply. Care about these characters as much as we do. Want good things for them like we do.

Just get Barney and Robin to the altar. And don’t fuck it up.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • JaimeLannister

    'NO ONE WANTS THAT PIE.' I DO! I'm so sick of Barney and Robin, I absolutely feel no chemistry between them. They're too much alike. THIS WAS THE REASON THEY BROKE UP! And why are you guys so angry? I know that there's so little chance for Ted and Robin to end up together, but I don't care!!! Yeah, of course probably you're right, and Robin will marry Barney, and all the Ted and Robin stuff will lead to a dead end, but this will be the biggest mistake of the writers, that after creating a beautiful romantic story for Ted and Robin they dropped it for a much more cheesy one!

  • Echo

    Oh my god, thank you. I'd been searching for a way to express exactly how I feel about "How I Met Your Mother" and you perfectly captured it. So many people have urged me to stop watching, confessed how they stopped watching, tell me in the words of MST3K "it's just a show, you should really just relax." But, I care about these characters...not Ted...never Ted. But, it's impossible not to fall a little bit in love with Robin and her hidden vulnerability, Barney and his longing to be loved, Marshall and his childlike worldview....ok, I can't think of anything to love about Lily, but Alyson's got a lot of leftover Buffy goodwill...so, I forgive her. I hated seeing Victoria come back for a plot that made no sense. I hated seeing Nora matter and then instantly not matter. So much of this show goes on off screen that we are forced to fanfic the in-between spaces, and that's fine, as long as what is on screen is still interesting and important. But the last two episodes, especially the "season finale" (season finale? More like 26 minute trailer for an episode they've been promising forever but will probably never deliver) I'm so angry, and I want to be done. I might try to just not watch Season 8, and then watch it all on DVD, where I can at very least bury the pain of the mediocrity of each episode in the knowledge that it's over and the writers can't hurt me anymore. Why do the writers keep hurting me?

  • Welldressed

    I'm the one, Courtney. It's me. (And apparently, xfiles below), but I'm the one who wants Ted and Robin together. I'm the one who doesn't appreciate the Robin and Barney storyline, and I'm the one who is with Marshall in his Long Term Bet. I know you say no one wants it, and from what I gather, most people don't, but I'm the one who eats Frothy Horse Meringue Pie.

  • STARK

    Just perfect, that's all i'm gonna say

  • Paty

    SO SO TRUE!! MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

  • NateMan

    Preach on, sister!

  • Officially and Ex-Viewer

    This show needs to stop. It is honestly just irritating and a waste of time. Get any kind of imagination please.. these "twists" are so predictable and even more annoying than the actual lack of funny jokes in the show for the past few seasons. HIMYM needs to go in a hole and die like Robin's locket

  • kirbyjay

    "You, along with my commenters, may respond “it’s just a sitcom.” And it is. But the power of television is its ability to create lasting relationships between the viewer and the characters. I’ve cared about these people. This group of friends has been my friends for nearly nine years now."
    Thank you Courtney. I've tried to justify my love for That 70's Show because "it was just a sitcom" but you explained it to me perfectly. This is how I felt in the final season when I could bear to watch it. Jackie and Fez? Hyde marries a stripper? Eric goes to Africa? Donna and Randy? These were my friends and the show runners destroyed them and left me with that sour taste after 7 faithful years. 5 or 6 years is enough for any show, after that they run out of ideas. lose interest and just cash the paycheck.

  • babykangarootribbiani

    courtney, i mean no disrespect, but if i may, why do you think barney and robin are so clearly meant to be together? this year if anything seems to have been about pointing out all the ways they just don;t work.

    i have to admit that while it was on and still now cause its on netflix i watched gossip girl and i realize most people have enough sense and lives and whatnot they don;t watch gossip girl, but i;m gonna pretend all;s ya;ll watch gossip girl and this example will make a lick of sense to you. on gossip girl the big couple, chuck and blair, are both horrible rich people, in a show about horrible rich people. chuck and blair are the worst of the bunch, rotten to the core, and i shipped these two crazy kids for one reason, and one reason only; they were one of those couples that when they weren;t together (which looking back was most of the goddamned show) all they and subsequently all the other characters would talk about was why they weren;t together and why they shouldn;t be together and why they should be together and so on and so forth. but when these two were together, it still seemed the only way they knew how to be together was by hurting each other.

    which is basically a long-winded way of my saying that this is how i see barney and robin. i know they are compatible in a lot of ways, BUT barney still doesn;t seem to have the slightest idea as to how robin should be treated and he and robin can seemingly only be in love by practicing sociopathy on each other. robin gave him the worst night of his life and brought him to his knees for his bachelor party and barney put robin through the emotional tower of terror in order to propose to her. not to mention a lot of his proposal hinged on his burning the playbook, WHICH HE DIDN;T EVEN DO, which brings up another good point Barney admitted himself; their relationship is hinged on lies. And this doesn;t bother them. They seem to be two characters brought together only by the belief nobody else would be crazy enough to love them.

    And then there's Ted. Sweet Teddy Westside. Yes every episode something new slips out which makes you wonder if he and Ross Geller were standing in front of you, which would you be more tempted to stay in the knee with a pen? But Ted knows how to be there for someone. More importantly, Barney is still the same guy from season 5 who shows up, sees Robin upset, and tells her to go gal it out with Lily and he;ll be back for sex when everything;s good again. Barney needs a reason to be there for Robin. Ted doesn;t. This was seen when Robin found out she couldn;t have kids and Ted decorated the apartment for her, without even knowing what was wrong; he just wanted to be there for her.

    this brings me to my last point which is that doesn;t this all seem a moo point because we know ted and robin don;t end up together? which makes me ask a question i hesitate to bring up because it would lead to one of those "but it doesn;t!" "but what if it did?!" "but it doesn't!" "but what if it did?" "BUT. IT DOESN'T." ".....but what if it did?" arguments that generally go on for hours and leave you wanting to snap in half the person you;re arguing with and a little dizzy, making you wonder what the hell you were arguing about in the first place. and that question is this: if the mother wasn;t in the picture, if this were any other show in the world, if the odds weren;t overwhelming that ted is supposed to find somebody else, would you still ship barney and robin, or robin and ted?
    (And i;m aware my opinion is;n the popular one. And while i;m fairly certain barney and robin get married, i would be really surprised if they stayed married).

  • xlifes

    I actually would love for Ted to end up with Robin. Just to prove that we do exist :P

  • competitivenonfiction

    This needs to stop. How do you think his kids feel about a story that is 8/9th about how he loved and lost their aunt only to meet their mother the day she got married. I'm sure he's going to say something like "it was worth all the pain" but really, spending that kind of time on the Aunt is kind of like saying "so then I gave up and luckily your mom was there!"

    I'd be super pissed if my husband told the story about how we met and most of it was about an ex. I'd also be generally pissed off if I was married to Ted Mosby so I'd be pretty used to the emotion.

  • I think that you're going to be going back on all of this next week when they reveal that Robin's dad told Barney about the locket, Barney went and dug it up, and they're all in on it, including Ted.

  • alboalt

    I actually yelled at the TV as soon as I saw those longing glances, and I NEVER do that. My daughter was shocked and my dog did that almost subvocal "Ruff" dogs do when they're napping but they heard something and have to alert the master but don't want to exert their full effort because the nap is so great.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I don't even watch this show, Courtney. But I am giving you the long...slow...clap right now.

  • Arran

    I fucking hated that ending too, but I'm going to wait until next week's episode before REALLY going nuts on it. If it's pretty much dismissed within the episode, we're still good. If they intend to string this out to next season...no. No no no. Please, no.

    And the weird thing is, I'm a viewer who really doesn't care that much about the master plot. As long as an episode is funny in its own right and has some good character stuff, I'm happy. But they've become slaves to the master plot while running out of ideas for what to do with it.

  • EXACTLY. I don't care about the Mother. I mean, I do, but it doesn't affect my enjoyment. I love the clues, but I'm not one of the "ugh meet her already" ones. But you're completely right--they're slacked to their own mythology and it's killed the magic.

  • Arran

    Pretty much exactly my feelings. The occasional clue and flashforward is fun, but they could have just made it a more general "friends hang out in New York" show (like that other show where a bunch of FRIENDS hang around and show us what FRIENDS they are—you know, The Single Guy) and come back to the master plot for the end.

  • e jerry powell

    You could beat them into a coma with Taylor Swift's guitar...

  • Shelbs

    SERIOUSLY! Nobody wants fucking Robin and Ted. Love this post.

  • toblerone

    I performed a self intervention a few years ago and stopped watching H.I.M.Y.M.

  • Derreck

    I was irritated by the end, but now that i think about it, i sort of understand.

    Robin would understandably have some cold feet about marrying Barney. It's BARNEY, for God's sake. He's made progress but he still has alot of growing and adjusting to do. Ted showing up while Robin is freaking out would cause her to reach out to him like that. But like the theme of the episode, it is all about letting go of the past. i think we got a hint of the direction Ted is going in with sending that text about letting go to Marshall and Lily.

    Robin's reluctance gives some drama to the finale but whatever is going on between Robin and Ted now will be over when Robin goes through with the wedding. Ted, after feeling like crap by FINALLY letting Robin go, will meet the love of his life and WE ALL CAN MOVE ON.

    *But* HIMYM had Ted and Robin set up as their OTP so i don't know if those two will ever be over. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if we got an epilogue where those two end up together.

  • Torgo

    Ugh no. Ted is the worst.

  • PerpetualIntern

    He's a douchenozzle.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Ok guys, I admit I'm far from a loyal fan of the show, so someone needs to explain something to me. At exactly what point in the series does Ted become a cut-rate Ross Geller?

  • Jack Simenon

    So true. I think it happens in all long running sitcoms that the characters become exaggerated over the years. But Ted went from being a pretty cool guy to a complete loser.

  • Mrs. Julien

    That was way harsh, Bert.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Third season?

  • Salasalu

    I wish they could give NPH more to work with -- everyone knows he's capable of nonsense and pathos. Should I email Carter Bays and Craig Thomas the "Dr. Horrible" youtube link??

  • meadowdancer

    I give up on this show. I am now officially embarrassed that I have watched it as long as I have. This is becoming The Office level bad right now for me as a viewer.

    The writers trying to tease us about Robin and Ted need to stop. Heck this should have stopped when Ted finally owned up to Lilly that he felt angry that Robin chose Barney and Barney finally told Ted he needs to stay out of his relationship.

    What I think the writers forget is that this has not only just been the journey of Ted meeting the mother but of Barney growing up and being the kind of man for Robin that he has been.

    They keep writing Barney and Robin inconsistently and it's driving me crazy. We have seen that he had real feelings for Robin starting in Season 3/4 and what they wrote was great until they came up with stupid reasons to keep breaking them up.

    If anyone is too good for that relationship it's Barney since he has shown 1,000 different ways that he loves Robin and that he has loved her and been with her in a relationship more times than Ted has. I know that Ted loved her first but he sure as heck has not loved her as long or consistently.

    UGHHH. Double UGHHH so ready to kick something to death right now (like the writers.)

  • Harvey Jerkwater

    For what it's worth, it makes story sense, if not character sense. They set this up so when Ted meets The Mother, he will officially be at his Lowest Point Evar. (This may have been established already in the series, memory fails. Didn't he say he met The Mother on the worst day of his life?)

    If he isn't still madly in love with Robin *and also convinced that she may or may not love him back someday*, it minimizes the "ooooh, poor suffering Ted!" at the wedding. Having him be okay with it, or at least shutting up about it and never letting Robin know, lessens the effect. Carter and Bays really, really want that emotion to happen.

    Problem is, they had to have Ted "get over her" a string of times for her to move on to the Barney-marryin' stage, and holy shit they have to stop hitting that goddamn note. It would have been better if they'd held off on the "Ted and Robin still have a thing" until now; they went to the well too early. Argh.

    If The Mother is not a regular cast member in Season Nine, I'mma be pissed. Where the hell else can they go? They can't string this shit out any longer.

  • Gentleman Farmer

    My concern is that this undermines the story of the building of the love Ted has for the mother. Each time Ted circles back to Robin on the show, it makes the mother seem like Plan B while he waits around for Robin to be free. The challenge that makes for the showrunners is that (with only one season left to show it) I'm not sure they'll be able to convince the viewers that Ted's newfound love for the mother is the real thing and leaves his love for Robin behind, and may instead seem like Ted settling.

  • BAM

    "If The Mother is not a regular cast member in Season Nine, I'mma be
    pissed. Where the hell else can they go? They can't string this shit
    out any longer."

    THIS THIS 100000 times THIS. My wife thinks I should just give up because they won't introduce the mother until the last episode (if at all). If that happens, it will always be at the top of my list of worst sitcom endings.

  • Wembley

    I think the mother already is a regular cast member.

    It's either going to be Josh Radnor or Jason Segel in drag. There will probably be some sort of text/twitter/phone poll/contest to decide which one.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Ted get hits by a train and misses meeting the Mother? Enter Cute Physical Therapist to waste a half season on, Ted stalks Robin for a couple of months, then he meets the Mother.

  • This used to be my favorite show but this season has been absolute shit. Every episode I cannot believe it's written by the same people who created the first 4 seasons. I'll stick with it till the end but it is fucking awful.

  • BAM

    This is exactly how I feel. When did they switch all the good writers out with terrible ones?

  • yocean

    my bet is that Barney has already dug up the locket.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I'm kinda hoping it's Robin's dad. Because even more than Barney, that character needs to not be somebody I want to have a heart attack mid-wedding.

  • meadowdancer

    He better have....

  • John W

    If it weren't for Coby Smulders I would have deleted this from my dvr long ago.

  • janetfaust

    "No one wants that pie!" INDEED. I sat there watching the ending, saying, "No, no, no. NONONONOO!!! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! Stop it this instant! No, don't hold hands...what did I just say?!? JUST NO, PLEASE STOP!" But they didn't stop. And I know I won't stop watching. But for the love of McLaren's, please don't have Ted & Robin end up together. That would be a Lost-caliber cop-out to this show, and ruin it completely.

  • Mrs. Julien

    This was both delightful and on the nose!

  • competitivenonfiction

    I've been waiting for this ALL DAY! Now up to read it, whilst seething.

  • Crystal O.

    Courtney, I love you. That is all.

  • Ray W.

    Best quote ever... it may be my new favorite! "last night, you took those hopes, ground them up, put them in a
    French press and served me coffee made of my own murdered joy."

  • Guest

    I'm not sure what happened to my post, but I love that you used the Detox picture!

  • sean

    That drag queen looks like Princess Donna

  • Brian Stevenson

    Her name is Detox and she is aweeesoommmmmme.

  • She's from the Glad family of products!

  • csb

    I agree with the sentiments of the post entirely, but I have to admit I will probably continue to watch the show as it completes its final lap. Don't let that take away though from how furious I was that they dragged out that long-dead Ted & Robin horse yet again.

  • tmoney

    Wow, I am glad I missed it last night, because I am so sick of Ted. I've been watching the show for too damn long, and I care too much about fictional characters, but Ted is the worst.

  • Brian Stevenson

    Oh my god, Enlow, your use of the Detox gif from Drag Race is giving me LIIIIIIIIIFE.

  • I haven't been a big fan of Robin and Barney. Robin is too awesome for Barney, who is funny as a sitcom character but kind of an asshole is we are supposed to take him seriously at all. And if you're going to marry Robin Scherbotsky, I have to take you seriously.

    So I liked the fact that Robin is questioning marrying Barney. But I agree that doing what they did with Ted was a ridiculous way of going about it. We know her and Ted don't end up together. So hinting that there is still something between them is kind of pointless. They are just making shit up to justify airing more episodes.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I'm desperately hoping this was some weird, totally bizarre move to fuck with the viewers who are hating this happening, and that when we get the next episode Robin's just all, "Welp, thanks for being there Ted, you're a good friend," and Ted's like, "Yeah, I am pretty awesome [he is a douche, after all]. MacLaren's?" And then they go to MacLaren's.

  • Rochelle

    "And, last night, you took those hopes, ground them up, put them in a
    French press and served me coffee made of my own murdered joy. I hope
    you’re happy, because I’m not. I’m not happy."

    Perfect.

  • Bert_McGurt

    "Because that horse has been beaten so many times it is basically a frothy meringue now, and you continue to pour it on a pie and shove it down our throats. And I don’t want a meringue horse pie, you guys. NO ONE WANTS THAT PIE."

    It's a good day for ridiculous food analogies.

  • Alex0001

    I...I..can't wait to use those lines in some sort of future conversation.

  • She has a hell of a way with words, doesn't she?

  • Bert_McGurt

    Always. I love it when she gets indignant.

  • I might be hungry.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Where can I get a cup of this sadness coffee?

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