Sunday, November 18, 2012

HIMYM Thoughts: I really don't care who the mother is

How I Met Your Mother is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I've been watching this season with interest. But not in "the mother". Instead, the intriguing plot point for me is the relationship between Barney and Robin and how it evolves. Here are a number of reasons why I'm not holding my breath for Ted's future wife's identity to be revealed:
1. By the title of the show, I kind of always assumed we'd just meet her in the last episode in some final scene, Ted would say "and that's how I met your mother", and we wouldn't need to know more about the mother, because well, the kids already know who their mother is, there's a good chance they've heard stories about their mom and dad's dating life from their mother or from Ted's friends or from Ted because he's obviously so interested in sharing intimate details of his own personal life.
As I understand it, HIMYM isn't the story of Ted's relationship with his wife--how could it be if we've gone seven full seasons without meeting her, and if Ted were actually telling the story of that relationship, she'd be more than a minor detail.
2. The story of Barney and Robin is much more compelling.
To me, this is the key reason. While I like Ted and think he's a nice guy, he's just not as fun to watch as Barney. While Ted seems to genuinely fall for every girl he meets, Barney and Robin are more cynical, which makes their connection more powerful on a screen. Yes, their relationship does to a degree fall under the cynical-man-falls-for-smart-driven-passionate-woman branch with Casablanca and Star Wars. (Many thanks to Grantland's Brian Phillips for making that connection.) Yes, it's been done before, but there's a reason people like it. Neil Patrick Harris is a better actor than Josh Radnor, and his relationship with Robin is one that has been developing throughout the course of the show, whereas we haven't even met the mother yet, so it would be hard for the relationship to be as meaningful as one that's been there all along. Some people don't like Barney and Robin, but I do. I find them both to be dynamic characters with interests much less straightforward than Ted's "I want to get married and have babies" philosophy.
Aside: The more I think about it, the Star Wars analogy that posits Ted-as-Luke, Barney-as-Han, and Robin-as-Leia actually makes a ton of sense. And who's to say the creators didn't consciously make that way, since they reference Star Wars all the time. Just like in Star Wars, the self-interested character ends up becoming a good person as well as everyone's favorite character. Robin works as Leia because they're both feisty, independent, and motivated by some very important non-romantic passion (Robin wants to become a journalist, and Leia wants the Rebellion to win.) And Ted and Luke are both good guys, but Robin/Leia just isn't happening for them. That's okay though, because they get to succeed in other ways.
3. I feel like the level of anticipation that has greeted "the mother" is setting fans up for failure.
This last one is me just being pessimistic, but I think it will be hard for the creators to envision a character that pleases all of their fans. And as of late, they haven't been doing very well. Victoria in season 1 was well received. She had her own personality and career ambitions, she was nice and not stereotypically jealous, and she was strong and intelligent. Stella was a well done character as well. You know, for someone who doesn't like Star Wars. I thought Stella and Ted running into each other, and her giving her thoughts on how there's a "one" out there for Ted was great and continued that general philosophy of the show that certain people are meant for each other. (Whether or not you believe this to be true in real life, the show relies heavily on the notion, and it was therefore good for Stella and Ted's meeting to confirm that.) Zoey, meanwhile, was not well received (and I didn't like her either), and Victoria's season eight persona felt much more contrived. I actually like Quinn a lot, so I haven't given up on the show's ability to create new, interesting female characters. That being said, I'd much rather spend my viewing time rooting for characters I already know that I like. And Barney and Robin happen to be my two favorite characters in the show.

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