Much has been said about the show since its controversial finale. Last week, I weighed in on the things about the show that I loved, despite not being crazy about its final episode. But, there were also a few things about the show that I hated, things that made me feel like my love of it needed to be justified to the people that were exclusively haters.
1. Barney’s lack of growth. The most frustrating thing for me about loving this show was that, as a feminist, I found Barney’s character hard to stomach as time went on. While I appreciated the jokes, I found it harder and harder to sympathize with him as a character. Neil Patrick Harris was amazing in the role, and probably the sole reason that I continued to like Barney after he made the switch from lovable playboy to absolutely disgusting sexual predator. This may sound harsh, especially since he isn’t exactly a rapist. But the amount of trickery involved with getting these girls got more and more disgusting for the sake of a joke, and more and more messed up. I could’ve stomached all that if his character was going to do some growing (and for a while he really did), but it was obvious that marrying Robin wasn’t the solution, and the show did it anyway only to throw it back into our faces five minutes later with a divorce. So at the end, what makes him grow is a baby girl. And I loved that scene, but in some ways the quick changeover from messed up man child to enlightened dad made it less believable, and ended up excusing it.
2. Ted and Robin Ad Infinitum. Countless times I shouted to the screen “NO!” and “STAHP!” and “STILL??” and nearly every time that I got that angry it was because the Robin and Ted love arc was being explored any time past their second break up. I was willing to believe they got together and split up multiple times. That happens. But I was getting enormously tired of seeing one of them look to a mutual friend and say “I’m still in love with___” (and usually it was Ted who really needed to get over it). When they started to fall for other people, and the span of their friendship approached decades, it ceased to be believable that they would go over that same territory so many times. And even if it was believable, as an audience member, I had been primed for the idea that Robin was not the mother, and therefore knew they wouldn’t end up together and so got used to the idea well before their first breakup and so got really tired of it when they pulled it out. Which, I believe, is one of the reasons that fans are mad, because the show wasn’t really about the mother at all. It was about Robin. And Robin is an awesome character, but we had learned over time to dismiss Ted and Robin’s romance as not the real thing.
3. The Blue French Horn. Speaking of Ted and Robin, I got really tired of references to and the use of the damn blue French horn. A few times, I got it. But every time they talked about their relationship it seemed to come up, to the point where I started to wonder if it wasn’t just a quirky way Ted had of showing his affection, but actually a larger symbol of something else. A red herring perhaps?
4. Ted. Ted, like Barney, ended up showing absolutely no growth. I loved him because he was kind of an idiot when it came to love, and a little selfish (otherwise why would he still be trying to get back together with Robin when it clearly isn’t going to work?). But those flaws made him the lovable storyteller that he was. At the end of it all I felt like I had paid the price for liking someone as selfish as Ted because he lead me astray. He lied to the viewer (and his kids), and himself until it felt like he didn’t love Tracy at all and had created yet another elaborate fantasy (like the fact that those cowboy boots look good on him), around Robin and Tracy and what it all meant.
5. Patrice. Actually, I liked Patrice. I hated Robin’s irrational dislike of Patrice, especially after Patrice helped with her engagement. I hated that Patrice was so nice and clueless and Robin couldn’t even be decent to her. It made Robin look very bad, and although Cobie Smulders is very good in the show, and it was funny the first time, it got old fast.