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