Worst Use of “Will They or Won’t They” Ever: How I Met Your Mother

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18 Responses

  1. Awesome piece!! I did not watch the show, but heard enough about it so I caught the drift. Sounds absolutely enraging!Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    The story of mid-2000s TV is of writers thinking they have got a KILLER TWIST that is gonna blow the SOCKS off the (audience figures out the twist in the first five minutes of the pilot) uh no wait actually the REAL twist is that it was a DIFFERENT twist ALL ALONG, ha HA!Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Although it would be interesting to compare this to “ships” in other fandoms. Like, if writers don’t pander to fan theories about who’s bangin’ who off-screen, is that bad writing, or is that a respectable refusal to submit to fan entitlement?Report

  4. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Sam and Diane on Cheers. Not quite as terrible as this, but obvious and irritating.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    My understanding is that WTOWT is because it is a lot easier to write than a real relationship and avoids the Shipping Bed Death trope, where the formation of an official romantic couple leads to fans loosing interest in them. Plus, you get to build up rivalries in fandom and keep the audience engaged in the show.Report

  6. Avatar Pinky says:

    Ted was angry and unbalanced. The show’s reveal should have been that Ted had long ago killed his wife because she had flaws, and he was telling his kids elaborate stories about how perfect she was. “If only she had listened to me more!”Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Agree with everything here. Plus, possibility the worst aspect of not letting the ending ‘breathe’ if they were determined to go that way anyway, was the complete undoing of Robin’s character in the span of some 10 tv show minutes. It was immensely frustrating – and cliched and lazy – that some 15 years after her divorce, all she was was a ‘career woman with lots of pets and no social life’.

    (it was also a total cop out to not just have Bob Saget play ‘old’ Ted. And the fishin editing of the last scene with Radnor and the previously filmed footage was possibly the most amateur thing that had been on network TV in 70 years)Report

  8. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    How I Met Your Mother is an interesting reversal of the usual pattern. There are any number of shows that start off terrific, but end up going nowhere. Sometimes this is because the writers had a great idea for one season, then had nothing. Other times they may vast quantities of good material, but no coherent end game. This is fine for a traditional sitcom like I Love Lucy, but the modern trend is for shows with a clear need for closure. This is great when it works, but it often doesn’t.

    HIMYM reverses the usual problem of the writing not having an ending. They had an ending from the start. They knew exactly where they were taking the show. Their problem was that they had no idea how to get there. We cared because the meandering along the way was actually pretty good, and occasionally very good. It held our attention through a long run.

    By way of contrast, for an example of a show that totally nailed the ending, watch The Americans. Watch the entire series, if you haven’t already. Or even if you have. I am currently rewatching it, now up to Season 4. It stands up to rewatching. And the series finale? Absolutely perfect. After I first saw it I immediately watched it again, and this is not something that I usually do.Report

  9. “But the shows creators not only had the ending worked out, they filmed the last scene in 2006 because the teenagers who played Ted’s future kids would have been grown by the time the finale aired 8 years later.”

    I did not know this. And I think it’s the problem. The show went in a different direction than what they intended. And they had no way of adapting to that. GRMM is facing the same problem with Game of Thrones: he has the ending in mind, but the story as written is deviating and it’s hard for him to wrench it back. It’s why the last season of GoT felt a bit off.Report

  10. Avatar Blomster says:

    After The Matrix II and III totally ruined the original movie for me, I committed to never watching movie sequels, and I am very very wary of TV series in general. If the creators of the movie/series did not have a story arc planned from start to finish, I’m not interested in being lead around by the nose while they try to keep the ratings up. Worked for me in Heroes, in Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones. Ok I missed out on a few good ones like Breaking Bad.Report