Why the How I Met Your Mother Finale is an Outrage
I was going to let this sit until tomorrow when I (one would hope) might be thinking more clearly—but my anger over the absolute ruination of what is quite probably my favorite sitcom of all time is 100% justified, so I’m going to slam this down right here and now.
Ted and Robin dated in the second season of “How I Met Your Mother,” which took place roughly eight years ago; since then, they have engaged in various on-again-off-again relationships, most of which ended abysmally on both ends. Throughout the series, whenever Ted is at his very lowest—generally between serious girlfriends, and questioning whether or not he will ever find love—he falls back on Robin. If his feelings for her were ever indeed love, they have since then morphed into the unhealthiest kind of obsession possible. And, time and again, Robin responds negatively to his continuing advances (at one point even openly telling him that she has moved past him—that she considers him a friend, and feels that making another attempt at connecting in that way would only end badly).
Ever since the third season (Barney and Robin first kiss in 03x16) we have watched this relationship progress—and we have watched as, slowly but surely, Barney learns to value himself and others. While Ted and Robin prove over and over again that they are toxic for one another, Barney and Robin learn from one another; their relationship forces them to evaluate their faults and their failings, to grow as people.
“I love everything about her, and I’m not a guy who says that lightly, I’m a guy who has faked love his entire life, I’m a guy who thought love was just something idiots felt, but this woman has a hold on my heart that I could not break if I wanted to. And there have been times when I wanted to. It has been overwhelming and humbling, and even painful at times, but I could not stop loving her any more than I could stop breathing. I’m hopelessly, irretrievably in love with her. More than she knows.”
As for Ted, episodes as recent as those of the ninth season blatantly portray him as moving away from Robin. One episode focuses almost exclusively on his inability to let go of his obsession, and it ends with him physically dropping her hands, and watching as she floats away from him—a metaphor that evidently has no purpose or meaning now. In the penultimate episode, Ted realizes the scale of Barney and Robin’s love for one another and relinquishes the part of her he had been clutching for so long—the locket. It is also in this episode that Barney overcomes one of his greatest faults (his insistency upon deceiving those he loves, though often with well-meaning intentions) for love of Robin; he not only apologizes, but promises always to be honest with her, effectively allaying the last of her fears regarding their marriage.
This doesn’t happen once; much of the ninth season revolves around Robin’s and Barney’s respective fears about marriage (Robin worries that Barney is too like her father; Barney pines for his lost days of womanizing); these issues and more are addressed and resolved in season nine. In fact, Barney and Robin’s relationship is arguably more of a focal point for the show’s more recent episodes than Ted himself; they certainly receive more screen-time.
But even putting aside the idiocy of building up a relationship (and the character development that accompanies it) only to cast it aside abruptly, this episode stumbles too many times to be ignored.
- The Mother: This show is called "How I Met Your Mother"—but as a tumblr user so wisely observed it may as well have been called “How I Met Your Mother but Then She Died and I Banged Aunt Robin.” Part of what made “How I Met Your Mother” so fascinating was how it played with time, dropping small clues about Ted’s future wife in order to keep the idea of her accessible enough for audiences to continue to want to meet her—to put a face to the name we have heard so much about. The show spends much of its allotted time establishing parallels between Ted and Tracy (the mother). Understandably, to see this phantasm of a woman come to life in season nine was an exciting experience, particularly since her chemistry with Ted was so effortless. It stings that such a multi-faceted and engaging female character has been relegated to the role of a decoy—introduced and teased purely in order to keep viewers in suspense. It stings, too, that the crew chose to quite literally contradict the title of their own show, making nonsense and mush out of its once-consistent story structure and leaving us guessing (much like Ted’s son and daughter) at what the point of all of this was in the first place. But what, perhaps, hurts most of all is how disrespectful this is to the mother—that she should be introduced after eight years of fanfare, then killed and ushered offscreen without so much as a fond farewell, let alone a moment of mourning. The narrative disposes of her completely indifferently, intent on reviving a pairing that most fans would hazard had died years ago.
- Lily and Marshall: Nothing in particular happens to Marshall and Lily in this episode—and while that may seem something to be grateful for (given that every other character was royally screwed over) it’s worth noting for the fact that nothing in particular happens to Marshall and Lily in this episode. They have a baby, but we don’t know its name or even see it. Marshall becomes a judge, but we don’t see him at work anymore than we see Lily’s year in Rome. Within this episode, they exist only as complements to the stories of the other characters, reacting to ongoing events but not existing much beyond that.
- Barney: In a single hour, years of character development evaporate, and we are left with the Barney of season one—a crude, callow, unattached man, compensating for his insecurities by preying on significantly younger women; he even revives the awful playbook, despite the fact that his decision to make “The Robin” his last play of all time was an enormous step forward for Barney as a character. In a matter of minutes, gone are the many painful self-realizations, the gradual unraveling of years of poor behavior; gone is the man who slept with two hundred women and realized, afterward, that he felt emptier than ever before—that he had grown past such antics, that he had grown as a human being. Realizing this hole in the plot’s fabric, the writers seek to set Barney back on the right path…by having him knock up a complete stranger (one whose face is never cast, and who does not appear in this finale whatsoever) and bond with their child instantly; the baby is never seen again after this, and referenced only vaguely, but evidently this settles the fact that Barney is once again developmentally where he should be—that years worth of development have crumbled and been pieced back together in the blink of an eye.
- Robin:The slight on Robin by this show is so awful and so unnecessary that it burns even to talk about it. Robin is a woman who knows what she wants and goes for it—a woman who has spent nine years fighting to reach the very top of her field with the support of both her own determination and the support and love of her friends. For nine years, Robin has graced this television screen as a unique and refreshing female character—a female character who excels at her job but is not only her job; a female character who achieves and achieves and continues to achieve, but also manages to create bonds with others, and to exist three-dimensionally. Robin Scherbatsky climbed the ladder to success over the course of nearly a decade—but the finale has decided that she does not deserve to be proud of her work and how far she has come. Instead, she becomes cold and distant; the work that she once loved consumes her, and it makes her miserable when it never did before. She shuts out her friends, her family, and eventually her husband—and she is left, alone and empty, waiting for Ted to sweep in on his white horse and rescue her from the destruction that all of her backbreaking dedication has caused.
This finale is an insult—not only because it makes no sense narratively, or because it betrays fans who have followed it so closely and lovingly for so long, but because it disrespects its own characters, because it denies them the ending they have worked for, and the ending that they deserve. This finale is an outrage.
march 16-22, 2014: saying goodbye to some of television’s most compelling female characters.
- allison argent (teen wolf)
- audrey bidwell (the blacklist)
- lucy brooks/”jolene” (the blacklist)
- beverly katz (hannibal)
I understand that the networks and writers didn’t band together and say, “Let’s destroy these characters all at once,” but it really does say something that there were at least four significant female characters killed in the last week on cable television. Some of these women were leads, others supporting cast, but all were killed and killed violently.
The response that audiences have had to this varies by character, naturally. Some characters were thought to be killed for shock-value, while others were killed to fuel a male-dominated storyline. Their purpose became emotional-incentive for a male character to leap into hero/vigilante-mode. Their deaths provided emotional incentive, but devalued as the powerful women that they were. Their purpose was ultimately to trigger a quest for vengeance or alarm the audience, and this demeans their individual competencies and reduces them to a motif.
One writer talks of his character’s death with glee. One writer forbade the actress for making a final decision that she thought would be appropriate for her character’s finale scene, for her last words.
Most, if not all, of these characters were strong and self-sufficient. But they weren’t treated respectfully in death. Many were unceremoniously removed from the picture, rather than dying with dignity or a proper fight — only the illusion of one. One particular character will be placed in the centre of a death-tableau. More murder porn. One was shot, died, and disappeared from sight within the course of 30-seconds. This without even mentioning that one show almost killed off two POC in one episode.
It concerns me that these images are continuing to perpetuate our culture with violence against women and male dominance. Female characters are rarely seen avenging their male counterparts, and male characters are rarely seen mourning or behaving sympathetically towards women; we continue to see the aggressive, stereotypically-reserved man and the “strong” woman who couldn’t save herself, but whose death will be justly addressed by the surviving male. The world is already dangerous enough for women. What we need are stories with strong female characters who take care of themselves and survive. We can’t make much progress when the media perpetuates violence against women as an almost-ritual norm, to whatever end.
We are not here to give your men purpose. We have our own. We are not here to die and shock your audience. There are simply too many women reduced to male motivation and plot devices. Give us a chance to fight for ourselves, have our own stories and live our own lives rather than living to make men’s interesting or dramatic.
Website graphs your favorite shows based on quality | Warming Glow
I wondered that too! Turns out it was a clip show episode. Also, if you go to the chart site itself you can click on each dot and it’ll take you to the imdb page for that episode.
Episode 4 saw the words Bad Wolf appear for the first time. I just made it up on a whim, cos I liked the idea of the TARDIS being graffiti’d. But then I spent the rest of the episode idly wondering who that kid was, why he wrote those odd words. And, having dismissed notions of Evil Super Villain Kid, a plan began to form, in mid-production. Knowing that Rose would become the Time Goddess at the end of the series, I wondered if a Time Goddess would imprint herself on the universe, creating things in her image, like the face of Jesus in a bagel. Better still, these signs would actually summon her into existence. That’s the sort of thing you think about in this job, late at night. And then I worked backwards, inserting Bad Wolf references into almost every script. Funnily enough, I never told anyone what I was doing, in case it didn’t work, but the design department picked up on it—they didn’t even ask what it meant, they just offered to stencil it on Captain Jack’s bomb, in German. The idea spread without anyone knowing what it meant. Which is very Bad Wolf in itself.
Fan-created “Twelfth Doctor” opening credits
Based on this
MAKE THE DOCTOR WHO TUMBLR FIND THE THING
WE FOUND THE THING THANKS TO EVERYONES CAPS LOCK
CAN THIS BE THE ACTUAL THEME
LIKE IT STARTS OFF WITH THE NORMAL ALL THE COLORS BUT THEN THEN MUSIC TAKES A DARK TURN AND THEN ALL THE CLOCKWORK IMAGERY STARTS
This is stunning :-o
A friendly reminder that Dean will fight and kill any supernatural being that crosses his path, but when he’s being beaten mercilessly by…
or his angel
he won’t fight back.
This gets worse each time I reblog it.
Because he thinks he deserves it.
I don’t even watch SPN and this still hurts.
*ahem- 50 year old…
But also that awkward moment when the Forest of Cheem’s sacrifice is relegated to unimportance in Moffat’s world. Her bravery and kindness don’t matter, and she’s turned into yet another cheap joke about women being infatuated with the Doctor.
That she fancied the Doctor did not feature at all in the season 1 episode. She was curious about his origins, she had sympathy for him, and she gave her life so he could save the rest of the people aboard the base. I personally don’t see her fawning over him (like so many of Moffat’s women do). Thus, with no real evidence to draw this from, Moffat seems to be interpreting her sacrifice as “fancying” the Doctor, which is immensely problematic: It suggests that she did this only for him rather than to save everyone on the ship, and it shows yet another example of Moffat thinking that any woman who interacts with the Doctor must be infatuated with him.
Even if she did fancy him, the fact that Moffat considers her actions negligible in comparison to her “crush” is pretty gross, especially when the payoff from this line is so small. All it does in the context of the episode is set up the Doctor as an object of desire. But in the context of the show, it undermines the agency and power of women to act with bravery and integrity without it being all for the Doctor.
lmao i remember complaing about this exact same thing on this exact same gifset back in 2011
additionally THAT’S NOT EVEN HER NAME
her name was Jabe??? this is like saying ‘i met the human race once. they fancied me’
MOFFAT. *side eyes*
I really liked Jabe, she was only a small character but vital, and I was saddened by her sacrifice.