HIMYM Finale – The Playbook: How to Disappoint Your Fan Base in 5 Steps

1 Apr

how-i-met-your-mother-series-finale-one-last-surprise-04Robin, Marshall and Lily’s faces in this picture capture a few of the reactions Caitlin and I had as we watched the de … wait for it … pressingly awful HIMYM finale. We winced. We cringed. We half covered our faces with balled up fists of fury. Going in, we’d hoped the finale could pull off what “The Office” did in their brilliant finale and undo a couple of misguided, meandering seasons by letting us love our beloved characters one last time as they head off to satisfying conclusions. This episode failed on every level. It was a major disappointment (Major Disappointment). So, what went wrong? In the words of Judge Fudge, describing what went down in MacLaren’s, “All kinds of stuff.” They got the actual meeting of the mother scene right, but by that point we were so infuriated by the rest of the episode that we could barely appreciate it*. Here’s the 5 biggest ways the finale messed up.

*I want to point out that I don’t expect or even want a show’s creator to explicitly cater to the fans’ desires. I think writers and creators should have complete control over their characters and stories, because isn’t that the point? I feel the need to put this here because my brother, a brilliant writer and animator, pointed out that fans really shouldn’t be expecting that writers write FOR THEM, that they write with the fans’ desires in mind, and I 100% agree with this sentiment. I just felt that this was awful writing. Let’s talk about why.

The Playbook: How to Disappoint Your Fan Base in 5 Steps

1. Undo seasons worth of development in seconds

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An entire season based around Robin and Barney’s wedding. Season after Season of Ted coming back to “Robin is the one!” only to move on again and again and again and again ad nauseam. We were finally on board with Barney & Robin ending up together and Ted finding a soul mate that was more right for him than Robin. He’d let her go. He even watched her float away. We suffered through that. Well, forget all that because… HE WATCHED HER FLOAT AWAY!!!!!! It’s not just that the fans weren’t rooting for Ted and Robin anymore. It’s that TED AND ROBIN weren’t rooting for Ted and Robin anymore. 

2. Have Barney & Robin’s marriage mean less than a Kardashian marriage.

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You travel too much. I can’t write my boner jokes. Wanna get drunk and have sex and talk about his tomorrow? OK. So, it’s tomorrow, what do you think? I’ve always been honest with you. Let’s get divorced. Wait, what?! That’s how much effort they put into their marriage? “It’s great. It’s great. It’s great.” “One more and I’ll believe you.” IT’S NOT GREAT! They spent AN ENTIRE SEASON on this wedding. They spent an entire season showing us how in love Robin and Barney are, and how willing they are to make things work. I realize marriages do end in divorce. I realize things happen. But, like Zack pointed out — the reason given here is simply, it’s hard because you travel? This just made me disappointed in Robin and Barney and stop caring about their story lines altogether, which again, made it difficult to root for Robin and Ted, or Barney and baby…

3. Have The Mother Die & Completely Gloss Over Her & What She Means to Ted

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Not only did we like the mother, we fell for her even before Ted did and she was one of the only good parts of the final season. We were more than happy seeing Ted grow old and happy with her. The original intent may have been for Ted & Robin to end up together, but the show changed. As Twitter user @xosandhya so delicately put it, “THE SHOW IS CALLED “HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER” NOT HOW I MET MY SOULMATE, SHE DIED, AND I MARRIED YOUR USELESS AUNT” OMFG”  They made the mother way, way too perfect, but it was OK. It’s what we wanted for Ted, because he’d battled through so many shitty relationships over YEARS and it was time. It was time for him to find happiness, and it was time for Tracey, too, given her soulmate dying in a freak accident. It was devastating to me that even within the finale, the mother is featured as the picture-taker, the side character. Lily’s all freakin’ up in arms about losing Robin, and she doesn’t for a second realize she has a new amazing friend in the mother?! I know losing friendships is rough but for fuck’s sake. Throw the mother a little more under the bus, why don’t you. It also made me really, really, really dislike Ted. I was pro-Ted the entire show…until I realized he really was just horny for Robin and not even caring, somehow, about the love of his life?! Just, no.

4. Have Barney Finally Grow Up Only to Let Him Completely Regress

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He stopped lying. He settled down. He’s loyal. He’s a new man. Nope, not so much. He runs a boner joke website and bangs a new girl every day for a month. It’s not funny. It’s sad. And I’m someone who always found Barney’s shenanigans funny. He impregnates a woman we never see, has zero reaction to the impending father hood and then boom he’s an overprotective dad who worries about women at a bar. Nope. Not having it.  The fact that Barney is suddenly supposed to be back to his old ways in SECONDS, and then back to his OLD old ways when he has a kid?! I just. don’t. care. anymore. 

5. Have sad things happen, but don’t allow us to feel the feels

Barney and Robin’s marriage fell apart. Ted’s soulmate dies. Marshall is depressed about work. Lily is lonely and lost her friends. They still live in the cramped apartment. The gang almost never hangs out anymore. It’s not a happy finale. But were we moved by it? Good god, no. I can’t fathom how anyone could have been moved by that ending. They gave us no moments to get reeled in. It felt forced and tacked on and a horrible ending to a once great show. Because they departed so drastically from these characters THEY themselves had developed over years and years in a mere 60 minutes, I just stopped caring. As I was describing the finale to some work friends this morning, they said, “Are you sure you didn’t just dream this craziness last night?” It’s how I feel — I feel like there is no way it can be real, because it’s just so off-the-rails dumb. Actually….this is exactly how I feel. 

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