Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TV Complaint

Not enough for a report, but just a complaint that of all the things I don't like that they're doing this season on How I Met Your Mother, probably the one I hate second-most is the constant referencing and callbacks to "classic" gags from earlier, funnier seasons. I know it's supposed to be a sort of goodbye because this is the last season, but it just feels desperate to me. Like someone acknowledging that, yes, it's been a bad show for a couple of seasons, but here's some of the stuff you used to like. Well, I also used to like well-written character interplay.

But the thing I hate the most is the way they're finally introducing the mother. I really dislike this thing where apparently each of Ted's friends is going to have this magical, transformative experience meeting her before she eve gets to Ted. She's so magical! She made Barney realize he wanted to marry Robin! She was supportive of Lily and helped get Marshall to the wedding! She's not a character yet, she's a pretty plot device, and I really think the show's working too hard to make us love her by telling us over and over (through the other characters) how amazing she is rather than just having her interact and be a character.

Now, granted, this is in part the fault of the show itself, because it's been rather ham-handedly building her up for years, to the point where a lot of viewers got impatient with the show. That's too bad, because for a few of those years, it was one of the best shows on television; it didn't have to be about meeting someone, because it was about growing up and finding yourself, and that was compelling and entertaining enough on its own. Now, since it's the last season, we're getting the mother shoved down our throats and they apparently don't have time to do it with finesse.

Last night's episode was particularly bad, with this cipher character Darrin dropped in out of nowhere as a way of (a) getting the best friend characters to confront one another so all the conflicts get out in the open and then get resolved (aside: these are honestly the most selfish characters on TV at this point; their constant refrain should be "Jeez, but did you ever think about how your problems affect me?") and (b) manufacturing a dilemma for the mother so that Ted could unknowingly resolve it, because apparently that's what passes for character development on this show. Not that it matters, because everyone's been out of character so much this season, anyway, in service of whatever the hell the larger plot is supposed to be now.

(Remember when this was just a show about Ted dating? Now it's The Barney Show and constantly bringing Barney and Robin to the brink of breaking up, only to assure us they were always meant for each other, even though I have no idea why or how since they actually have the worst chemistry together of any two characters on the show and they can't even get through the wedding weekend without thinking they should break up and frankly I have a hard time believing that a strong, independent woman like Robin would be so head over heels for a guy who used to be a Charming Bastard character but turned into a full-blown Quagmire-like rapist caricature played for laughs about two seasons ago.)

Anyway, I dislike the way the show is letting everyone else approve of the mother before she even meets Ted, and how she's changing everyone's lives just so it will seem like she's integral to keeping the group together, because now it's probably going to feel less like she and Ted just click together perfectly and more like peer pressure because, hell, everyone in this group is so co-dependent that Lily can't even fathom the idea of Robin making a friend when they spend the summer apart and Ted moving to Chicago apparently threatens the fabric of reality. Yeah, it's sad when friends move, but jeez, remember a few seasons ago when Robin moved to Japan for a little while and the universe didn't die? I thought we were growing up, guys.

Ugh, this season. Mawkishness, filler. Contrived fanservice. Acting out of character just for laughs. The show is leaning too heavily on the barely-registering Barney/Robin relationship for emotional heft, and it just isn't there for me. I'm not invested in it, and they've made the whole season about it. And hey, here's the mother, just to satisfy the people who've been impatient about it for years. Who cares if it's done in a smug, unsatisfying, inorganic plot device sort of way?

I guess I find it so preposterous in large part because, really, it's a mystery I never cared about. I was enjoying the characters too much to find a reason to be impatient about it. Shoving it in my face forces me to reassess everything more critically, and I'm not enjoying what I see.

Congratulations on derailing yourself, show I used to love.


Bob Rutledge said...

I haven't watched HIMYM in several years, and I didn't know that Stephen Moffat was writing it now:

"She's not a character yet, she's a pretty plot device, and I really think the show's working too hard to make us love her by telling us over and over (through the other characters) how amazing she is rather than just having her interact and be a character."

Ted's marrying River Song?

SamuraiFrog said...

That's both funny AND accurate.