Tuesday, September 20, 2011

HIMYM, "The Best Man" & "The Naked Truth:" Do I Trust the Show? Do I Care?

How I Met Your Mother returned for its seventh season last night, and . . . well, you know, it was fine. But the big "shock" was not actually that shocking, I don't think. Although the problem could be that I've basically given up on the central question on the show and the attendant mythology. Hmm. Read on!

(First, a note: This hour-long "premiere" wasn't actually. It was two half-hour episodes back to back. Which is fine, just . . . not quite what a lot of people were expecting.)

So. My HIMYM issue, in a nutshell: I just don't trust them. And I don't care how he met the mother. But I'm not sure any of that matters. And it's not that I'm the sort of person who gets my enjoyment out of "solving" shows, or anything. I have not spent a great deal of time thinking about this show's mythology. I just want it to make sense as I'm watching, and I think that's a reasonable expectation. I'd be willing to just go along with the show being entertaining, and put off the mother thing or just bring her in already, if they didn't make a big obnoxious point of dangling it in contradictory ways. For example, last night the show asked us to at the very same time believe that we should be SHOCKED and interested that Victoria is back, but also that she cannot possibly be the mother. And this goes for every single character we've ever met, and it seems like they'll be bringing back several this season. I have nothing against Victoria, but I don't get why I'm supposed to be particularly excited about her.

This is why I wish that the show had a different name. The conceit may have been an attention-grabbing gimmick at the start, but now it's an anchor weighing the show down. It immediately takes the wind out of any plotline involving Ted's romantic life, and it means that potentially interesting ideas - like the chemistry that still lingers between Robin and Ted - are non-starters. Is anyone watching in order to find out the identity of the mother at this point? Would it hurt anything if they just introduced the mother and then continued with the show?

Because what's actually interesting are the character interactions and the way we've seen these characters grow up. And that's what I liked about the premiere. I like what they're doing with the Marshall and Lily parenthood story so far. And I loved the Barney/Robin stuff, especially when Robin told Barney her feelings while pretending to coach him on what to say to Nora. I'm having trouble buying into the Barney/Nora story, and not just because I want to see more the chemistry between Barney and Robin. I feel like the show is telling rather than showing us why Barney likes Nora and not being consistent with how seriously we're supposed to take his feelings. But I'm willing to give that some time.

And then . . . there's Ted. Unlike a lot of fans, I actually really like Ted, but, as I said, the "We meet a love interest and automatically know she isn't the mother" routine makes his stories fall flat. We could get back to some more career-based stories for him, I guess. That might help. Or let him have other romances, so long as they're entertaining, but stop bringing up the mother every three seconds. I don't really care who the mother is; I only care if the idea of the mother is ruining the viewing experience. And that's an open question for me at the moment.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with a lot of what you say here, especially about each potential mothers. I've been watching this show since it started, and at first I was ok with each woman Ted would meet, but within the past two or three seasons I've started to resent all the time they use trying to convince us that each person "could be" the mother, only to snatch her away and reveal an ankle of the real one or something stupid.

    I'd much rather watch Barney and Robin, who I like the best (maybe because I relate to them more than Ted, who I find myself disliking more and more...). I didn't like how Robin has been sort of forgotten about in recent seasons, or given more pointless story lines, so I'm hoping that we'll see more out of her character this season.

    Also, Lily and Marshall are more interesting to me than Ted, because their relationship is one of the most consistent things about the show, and I've liked watching it grow from a breakup in Season 2 to a family in Season 7.