On How I Met Your Mother

It’s almost time. The moment we’ve all been waiting for: On March 31st, Ted is going to meet the mother. It’s been a long nine years to get here. Last season the audience met the mother. This season they’ve been packing the episodes with allusions to past episodes and resolutions for all the characters before Ted gets to meet her too.

How I Met Your MotherHow I Met Your Mother is a really great show in a lot of ways. It ties in many important themes pertaining to young adulthood. Some of my favorites are the idea of “graduation goggles” and the trick Lily and Marshall use to pause their fights. Believe me, this one works.

Sometimes everything comes together perfectly in this show. The writers have clearly put in a lot of thought in to the ending and how to get us there. I appreciate this in a show, because it has a purpose, but I can’t help but be disappointed in the writers in a lot of ways.

I’ve never been a big fan of Barney’s character, but as the series has gone on he’s gotten worse and worse. Clearly he is a sociopath and a misogynist. But, it’s not the fact that Barney is a womanizer that gets me, but the fact that we sympathize with him. It’s not in spite of his gross behavior, but because of it. All the women he preys on are completely one dimensional and vapid. The viewer can’t blame Barney for targeting them, right? They are so unintelligent that it’s funny that Barney can seduce them by dressing as a little boy or a scuba diver or whatever else he has done.

Even when they attempt to have Barney grow by recognizing these people’s humanity, they still seem one-dimensional. Did it ever occur to the writers to have one of these women genuinely express how he hurt her, not in a gimmicky, throwing water in his face type of way? I understand it’s a comedy, but they’ve had no problem getting emotional in other ways. For example, when Lily and Marshall fight, or when Marshall’s dad dies, or with Robin’s relationship with her parents.

By the end of the show I would have expected him to grow as a character, to leave behind these childish behaviors, not because he’s locking himself into marriage, but because he’s a genuinely more well rounded character.

The woman he falls in love with would have been a perfect opportunity to have him grow. But the woman he ends up marrying is not someone who challenges him and allows to have empathy. Nope, it’s someone who just accepts his douche-baggery. Robin throughout the series has grown to be more and more like Barney, losing any bit of empathy she once had. That’s not how love works. Love should challenge you to become a better person, not pull you down into being a worse one.

I would have liked it better if Barney ended up with someone more like Lily who didn’t tolerate his asshole behavior. If he learned that his past was shameful because of the hundreds and hundreds of women he had used and abused. Instead him and Robin go on living in blissful ignorance of any other people beside themselves.

In fact, Robin is almost as awful to women as Barney is. Sure, she doesn’t trick them into sleeping with her and then leave them high and dry, but she continually puts other women down. She elevates herself above them by acting more manlike. And the way it’s written feels like the writers are elevating her above other women too. Just a memo – being manlike is not better than being womanlike.

These facts aren’t enough to turn me away from the show completely. There have been plenty of sitcoms where the character didn’t grow all that much. I only wish it didn’t hide behind the façade of being a show about growing up and finding our ways. I still watch it for Lily and Marshall’s adorable relationship and to see how Ted finds the mother. I just scoff at the sexism and poor character development all the while. At least it fuels my blog rants. Let’s hope they wrap up this season well and it lives up to our nine-year expectations. 

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