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Quitting How I Met Your Mother


How I Met Your Mother has been going downhill for years. What was once a clever little sitcom with fun and likeable characters has become more and more painful to watch, as situations became overblown, characters became unlikeable caricatures, and Ted just would not get over Robin despite the fact that they broke up five years ago and absolutely nobody cares any more.

But when you’ve watched eight seasons of an increasingly bad show, you kind of have to watch the ninth and final one, no matter how painful it is. Just to see how it ends.

So thank you, How I Met Your Mother, for freeing me from those constraints over the past couple of weeks.

The structure of the new season sounds inventive, but fell flat on its face as soon as it left the gate. The entire season, as far as I can tell, is set in one weekend, the weekend of Barney and Robin’s wedding. With twenty two half-hour episodes, we’re barely escaping from watching them in real time here. Add in the fact that one of the few remaining likeable characters, Marshall, is across the country and unable to interact with the characters properly at all, and the fact that Ted’s whole plotline revolves around him moping over ex-girlfriend Robin again, and the fidgets set in quickly. The stillness of it is too much to bear. We’re stuck in the same weekend for months on end, and any “mystery” or even plotpoint is going to take forever to be resolved this way, even if it doesn’t merit such a long wait for a resolution.

And this stillness reveals the flaws in the show that have been growing for years. With so little happening, all the focus is on the characters. And they aren’t real enough to work any longer.

Case in point is Robin. Once, many years ago, Robin was the independent TV reporter who lived in Brooklyn with her five dogs, was anti-romantic, didn’t believe in marriage or want kids, was generally rather confident and in control of herself, loved guns, and was once a glittery teenage popstar. For the past few seasons, she’s been rather a pathetic caricature — caricaturishly moping over Barney, caricaturishly failing at everything, caricaturishly hating Patrice. In the last episode I watched, she caricaturishly struggled to get along with other women. She was, she explained, raised as a boy, and therefore the female sex are an absolute mystery to her. She doesn’t like their shallow, superficial, fluffy, sobbing ways, and whenever she does try to befriend them, she pisses them off because she talks about things like easily losing weight. Because only women can understand and be friends with women, and they’re so competitive that they hate when someone else is thinner than them.

After straining to find a new female friend, Robin does come across one compatible person — a woman who is as into sports as she is. But then of course the show’s other female character, Lily, cannot stand the friendship competition, and jumps in to sabotage their growing bond. Basically confirming the show’s own “women are jealous and incomprehensible” stereotype.

Apparently the following week’s episode involved a battle between Robin and Barney’s mother, a return to Barney failing to meet basic standards for a boyfriend or a human being, and his brother James suddenly descending into promiscuous gay stereotypes despite being the spokesperson for monogamy only hours before in the show’s timeline. But I admit, I haven’t seen it. I didn’t even see the end of Robin’s “finding a female friend” adventure. Because the show crossed a line. It not only annoyed me, it bored me. And really, if your show is going to suck, that is the ultimate sin.


Rhiannon Thomas is the author of A WICKED THING and KINGDOM OF ASHES. She lives in York, England.

4 thoughts on “Quitting How I Met Your Mother

  1. Ted’s baseless obsession with Robin starts annoying me too. I liked the original Robin, I was always thinking ‘man, I want to be like her’, and I don’t dislike this one either (except in her narcissistic and neurotic moments), and if I could choose an admirer for my Mary Sue-self in the story, that would be Ted. But she couldn’t be further than what Ted is looking for. Is he so fixated on their compatible tastes in food and mutual preference for dogs?

  2. While I won’t say the show in general is anywhere near its peak now, I do think the “Robin tries to find a female friend” story is setup to her meeting and befriending The Mother at some point later this year (since it seems like the rest of the group are going to meet her before Ted does).

  3. The problem is that they got it all backwards. The fun characters that I hoped would never change, Barney and Robin, became boring and sappy despite the show’s efforts to make them a cool couple. I never got tired of Ted’s suit-up, chauvinistic ways or Robin’s boyish, independent and fun personality. One or two episodes of those two finding each others’ sweet side was ok but now I just want to throw up. Ted, on the other hand, has needed to grow a pair for 9 seasons straight.

  4. Yeah, I too saw this episode as a set up and agree that Robin has never been this naive about talking to other women. Personally, I’m not good at it either (yes, I’m a girl and I’m always putting my foot in my mouth socially) so I empathized rather than sought out the perfect female to female conversation. Robin has always been that way, Lily has consistently been her only girl friend. At any rate, I feel like if they needed to get Robin and Barney back together they could have accomplished that at season 6 and had Ted meet the mother at their wedding in season 7. I Robin was never going to become that static character that never wanted to get married (and hey, people can change their minds as they grow and get older and I’m pretty sure she changed her mind when Ted almost married Stella) I don’t think she NEVER wanted to get married so much as she was opposed to it as some children of divorced couples are. And if you want to get really scrupulous, she waffles in season’s one and two about marriage but her and Ted’s biggest hurdle was having children. If they married Ted would have wanted children soon after and Robin definitely from jump street has always said she doesn’t want them.

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