So, for the past month, “How I Met Your Mother” has been an emotional rollercoaster. I apologize for the cliche, but it’s true. My emotions have been the exact same as I feel at Six Flags, running the gamut from elation to apprehension to tears to “ow, I think the harness stabbed my own earring backer into my skull.” I have been filled with feelings. MY EMOTIONS!
Pretty much since the end of his relationship with Stella (Sarah Chalke), the show has become less about Ted. I am fine with this. We know where and when he meets the mother. The show knows that anyone he dates in the interim is just treading water, and after the Jennifer Morrison parade of lame plotline (the awesomeness of Kyle McLachlan notwithstanding), Ted needs to fade to the background a bit and act as observer. Particularly now that the story isn’t as much “finding a wife” as it is “Barney’s voyage to the altar.” Now the stories are one in the same, and let’s be honest, one of them is vastly more interesting.
What this season, particularly this month of sweeps episodes, has been about is Barney and Robin. Mostly Robin. Season 4 was about Barney’s feelings for her. This is technically Robin’s Season 4, but as the most emotionally guarded character on the show, we’re seeing a very different take on the unrequited love storyline. Barney fawned like a little boy with a crush. Robin drank, beat bitches and nabbed herself a (really not very good) therapist. Neither of them dealt with their feelings well, being completely unequipped to deal with said feelings, but Barney actually felt his feelings. Robin puts hers away.
I’ve seen people complain online that there hasn’t been a confrontation between Barney and Robin, or that we haven’t seen Robin really have an emotional reaction to her actions of these four episodes (which are, in order, sleeping with Barney, staying with Kevin anyway despite Barney’s breakup with Nora, having a pregnancy scare, and, now, finding out she’ll never have a pregnancy scare again—by the way, Cobie Smulders acted the shit out of this). But there wouldn’t be, would there? We have followed these characters for seven years, and, shockingly enough, the character with the most growth has been Barney Stinson. The character with the least has been Robin. This season seems to be that growth spurt. The levels of sanity between the two have shifted—Barney is now relatively put together, while Robin’s insecurities and sense of being lost in her own life have come to the forefront, and the load is only getting heavier. By the end of the season, something has to drop.
I have the softest of spots for well-written female characters who are super messed up. That’s why Robin Scherbatsky and Britta Perry are my two favorite characters on television right now. I have no doubt that when their respective shows come to a close, their endings will be happy, but not the kind of happy that Marshall and Lily will have, or that Shirley will have.
In the world of the sitcom, marriage and children is the ultimate happy ending. But, in life, it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t have to be. That Robin is heartbroken to have the choice taken away from her is wholly realistic and anyone who says otherwise is lying or simply wrong, but it doesn’t mean her life will be somehow less fulfilled than Ted’s or Marshall and Lily’s. Not even slightly. The idea that people who reproduce are somehow better or more enlightened than those who don’t is bullshit because look at Kris Kardashian.
HIMYM has always been more emotional and more than a tad deeper than your standard network sitcom fare, particularly for a CBS show. These four episodes each ended with me not knowing how to feel. In a good way. That’s rarer than it should be. The characters have exactly one and a half seasons to get their lives together. What will be interesting is to see what exactly that means for each of them, and I for one am glad it won’t necessarily be “marriage babies happy joy forever now.” This show makes you genuinely root for its characters. Let’s bring on some good things for them in 2012. And please, show, stop stressing me out so much. I’m delicate.
(Also, I’m glad it wasn’t a miscarriage, because let’s be honest, I was not the only one thinking that’s where things were going. That would have been dark, and I am not in a place for miscarriage episodes.)
Theories and General Futurethoughts:
I still believe Barney and Robin are the endgame. While infertility is fairly cruel as red herrings go, I feel like that’s why we learned what we learned about Robin’s child-free future. We are supposed to consider that Barney wants kids, Robin won’t be having them, so it’s not them. That said, Barney really would be a terrible father, which we saw in the previous episode. Anyone who wants ninja stars all over the house as baby toys probably shouldn’t procreate. So my shipper heart sails forth into the good night.