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Posts Tagged ‘How I Met Your Mother’

How We Left Your Mother

April 3rd, 2014 No comments

Monday night, the Internet lost its collective shit over the finale of How I Met Your Mother. It raged its feelings of betrayal in all caps. And more than 10,000 of its denizens took the entirely reasonable next step of signing an online petition demanding that the offending ending be rewritten and reshot.

If there’s one good thing to come out of all of this sturm und drung, it’s that everyone will shut the fuck up about the Lost, Seinfeld and Battlestar Galactica finales for a while.

The other day, I wrote about how HIMYM overstayed its welcome, dragging out to ludicrous length its tale of Ted Mosby’s quest for love. And yet, in this final hour, things clicked into place for me. It may not have been the ending I wanted, but in hindsight it was the only one that made sense of its nine-year shaggy dog story.

(Major spoilers ahead. Stop now if you care.)

So, as many viewers suspected for at least the past year, it was revealed in the final minutes that the titular mother had been dead (of a vague illness) for the past six years. The show was about Future Ted asking his children for permission to date his first love Robin again.

This explained a lot of things, not the least of which was why Ted’s long, long story began with his first meeting with “Aunt Robin.” And why so much of it revolved around their unresolved feelings for each other.

It was a brave choice on the part of the producers, given the expectation on the part of the audience for a happily-ever-after ending. But I think that to a large extent the audience  brought that disappointment upon themselves. They became obsessed with the Mother, treating the show as a Lost-style mystery box to be puzzled open.

To be fair, they were aided and abetted by the producers, who kept teasing them with hints, glimpses and almost-meetings. And I agree with the criticisms that the execution was muddled by the many obstacles and walkbacks necessitated by the show’s nine-year run. If it had a made a graceful exit at the end of the fifth season, if it hadn’t spent an entire year building up to Barney and Robin’s wedding only to have them divorce 15 minutes into the next episode, I don’t think that there would have been nearly so much of an outcry.

For my part, I was okay with the final episode. It was melancholy, but it felt truthful. Things don’t always work out the way we want. People die. And the only thing we can cling to is hope that things will be better tomorrow.




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A Mother Of A Long Story

March 31st, 2014 No comments

(the year 2030)

Kids, in September of 2005 your mother and I began watching a television comedy about a group of single twentysomethings living in New York City. No, not that one. Not that one, either. This show was kind of like those, but it owed more than a little to the British comedy Coupling and especially the sci-fi mystery Lost. Yes, the one about the island. No, I wasn’t sure what was going on there, either.

This show I’m telling you about was like Coupling and Lost in that it played with non-linear narratives, including flashbacks, flashforwards and flashsideways. It built an extensive, decades-spanning mythology of callbacks to prior (and future) episodes.

And it was also like Lost in that it was working toward a definite narrative endpoint, but because it was being produced for one of the commercial broadcast networks (remember those?), it couldn’t be certain whether it would have one year to tell its story, or five. Now, kids, the producers of Lost realized midway into their third season that this was an untenable situation, that there would be endless wheel-spinning unless they themselves declared a definitive end date.

Unfortunately for the show I’m telling you about, it became too successful and lucrative to end gracefully. And so it dragged on to nine full seasons, which was arguably at least three too many. Ironically, in its early run this show had always been on the verge of cancellation, but in its final years many of its most passionate fans began to wish it would just wrap things up already.

And now that I think of it, this show also reminded me a little of Will & Grace in that it had a breakout supporting character who was a borderline sociopath, but who became so popular with the audience that he began to redefine the show. His self-indulgent exploits went from barely tolerated to fully embraced by the other characters, and as time passed they too became broader and more selfish.

Kids, I know that you haven’t moved or shown any outward sign of interest since I began telling you this story, but I’m pretty sure that you’re wondering why your mother and I kept watching this show for every episode over nine years. Well, there were a few reasons. My affection for the characters was strong enough to carry me through even their later, lesser adventures. At its worst, it was still a pleasant enough diversion on a Monday night. Plus, my own dad had a penchant for not getting to the point. And the most important reason? I wanted to know how the story would end.

How did it end, my non-existent future children? I was just getting to that…

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Garbage Bag!

May 23rd, 2008 No comments

The CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother had an uneven third season, which I attribute in part to the interruption of the writers’ strike, as well as to the last-minute substitution of Sarah Chalke for the AWOL Alicia Silverstone as Ted’s new girlfriend. (Not that Chalke’s in any way a bad choice, just that her ongoing commitment to Scrubs meant that she was largely off-screen during the early days of Ted and Stella’s romance.)

That said, I’ve really enjoyed some of the online jokes planted by the show’s producers. Viral websites are nothing new, but what I find so appealing about the HIMYM tie-ins is that they’re less about promoting the show than they are about extending its humor into the real world. Plus, most of them include a silly song.

A couple of weeks back, there was a throwaway gag about the characters stumbling across a website called guyforceshiswifetodressinagarbagebagforthenextthreeyears.com, and indeed, the site actually exists. There’s not much there aside from a slideshow of a happy, young couple (played by a couple of HIMYM crew members), one of whom is wearing a garbage bag blouse. But what sells the joke is the ridiculous song playing in the background: producer Carter Bays croons in French while a breathy-voiced woman intones “garbage bag.” (A translation is available, and the song itself can be downloaded.)