Three years later, I’m still not over how badly How I Met Your Mother treated us all
No, I will not put on a Ducky Tie
Hello, and welcome to today's edition of That Thing You Think You Like Is Actually Shit.
How I Met Your Mother is leaving Netflix on November 13th, and people are not happy. They're without doubt fully brainwashed victims of the most manipulative TV show in history.
The real problems aren't it's chronic unfunniness, the laugh track, or the ridiculously large New York apartments everyone lives in. No, those are the same criticisms you could level at any mediocre sitcom.
Plenty of tv exists for morons who'll find anything funny – I mean, the Big Bang Theory is still going. That's fine.
But How I Met Your Mother manipulates its audience at every possible step of the way. Let me open your eyes.
WHY THE FUCK DO THEY SIT IN A BOOTH THAT DOESN'T FIT ALL OF THEM IN?
Their booth isn't even big enough for all five of them to fit in. The only reason they go back time and time again is because having one person sitting on the stool on the end makes it better to film.
EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IS EITHER A) A GIMMICK OR B) CONTRIVED RELATIONSHIP DRAMA
Ducky Tie. The Blue Horn. Umbrella. Suits. Lily's leaving Marshall. Victoria's in Germany.
Working out what's going to happen in a HIMYM episode has all the challenge of doing a jigsaw made of four giant squares.
IF YOU KNEW SOMEONE LIKE LILY, YOU WOULD GET RID A S A P
The absolute nadir of Lily Aldrin's self-centred circus of a life was when she broke off her engagement with Marshall to go and paint in San Francisco, because there is definitely no art allowed in New York.
It managed to stand out ahead of the simmering, constant awfulness of breaking Ted up with anybody she didn't approve of.
In fact, anything she doesn't like, or wants to have, she'll go about doing it in the most selfish, manipulative way possible. All the while, getting away with it because her and Marshall are so cute, right.
THE SHITTY CATCHPHRASES THAT TRY AND MAKE SOMETHING 'A THING'
On the surface, "Legen – wait for it – DARY", the cheerleader effect, and Robyn abusively yelling at PATRICE are only guilty of the sin of being unfunny. They're perfectly benign attempted catchphrases.
Look a bit deeper, and it's just the writers trying to reach out of the TV and plant something into your vocabulary, into your life, refusing to give up and just repeating it ad nauseam until it's playing in your head whilst you sleep.
I SAID I'D LET THE LAUGH TRACK GO BUT I JUST CAN'T
The only sin worse than using a laugh track is using the same laugh track over and over and over.
Clearly it was just too much to ask for people to laugh more than once.
THEIR ATTEMPT AT DIVERSITY IS STRAIGHT UP RACIAL STEREOTYPING
One of the only Asian characters in the show exists to drive them around and have a funny stereotype.
IT'S RIDDEN WITH CLICHÉS I THOUGHT WE LEFT IN 90s ROM-COMS
Not to beat around the bush here: the show revolves around trying to get laid.
If ever there were a well-worn trope, it's sitcom characters living in mysteriously spacious city-centre apartments.
BARNEY STINSON IS A RAVING – WAIT FOR IT -MISOGYNIST WHO ALWAYS LANDS ON HIS FEET
Barney Stinson has a playbook, something actually used for getting a football into the end-zone. This should tell you a lot about his general vibe towards women.
Oh, so it's a joke I hear you cry. Well, it's a joke with tie-in merchandise -"The Playbook: Suit Up. Score Chicks. Be Awesome", by Barney Stinson. All yours for £5.63 on Amazon.
Rather than spotlight how immature he is, his man-child-ness seems calibrated perfectly to appeal to juvenile boys. Just look at any one of the adoring YouTube compilations. 15-year-old me thought this was all so cool.
The running joke of the mystery of his job is ruined when it turns out his job is just to nicely turn a blind eye to massive corporate fraud.
To top it off, Neil Patrick Harris was paid, by the end, double what the other cast members were.
TED MOSBY, THE MAIN CHARACTER, THE ONE YOU'RE MEANT TO EMPATHISE WITH THE MOST, IS JUST STRAIGHT-UP UNLIKEABLE
Everyone's favourite unreliable narrator, plodding through life trying to find the one, then all of a sudden deciding it was Robin he wanted to bang all along. Ho hum.
Actually, it's deeper than that. He sat his kids down, told them about all the women he's hooked up with in the search of The One, skimmed over the death of their mother, all to try and justify hooking up with someone they call 'Aunt Robin'.
ROBIN IS AN ABUSIVE COWORKER WHO'D LOSE ALL HER FRIENDS
If Robin Scherbatsky's imaginary TV network had a HR department, they'd have a few things to say about her constantly shouting at poor Patrice. Probably things like: "You're a workplace bully and we're letting you go".
And, I guess, that gimmick only cements how easy it is to find her unpleasantness to be the only interesting thing about Robin.
The writers must have recognised how dull the character was when they started throwing random Canadian hobbies around just to try and give her a bit of depth. Oh, you don't like the fact she has loads of dogs? That's fine, now she loves GUNS. Wait, guns are boring? No problem, here's a few scenes of her smoking cigars!
Oh, and this:
NOT EVEN BEING PLAYED BY ALL-ROUND LEGEND JASON SEGEL COULD SAVE MARSHALL FROM BEING A BIT SHIT
At the heart of Marshall's character is the same moral conflict, playing out in so many ways – sell out or follow the dream. Work for an evil corporate bank, or become a world-saving environmental lawyer? Stay with Lily despite how badly she treats you or tell her it's gone too far and she needs to shape up?
All of this should make for an interesting character, but the problem is Marshall gets to do both options, with no real consequences. His main use boils down to being the extra guy character in a scene with either Barney or Ted. Jason Segel is wasted.
THE SMOKING WEED BUT IT'S A SANDWICH JOKE WAS JUST THE MOST ANNOYING WAY TO TALK ABOUT DRUGS
We were…uhhh…eating sandwiches, kids. Hehe.
THE ENDING WAS WRITTEN BY PEOPLE WHO MUST LITERALLY HATE THEIR AUDIENCE
This whoooooooooole story was just told so he could be like "I know your mum died, but is it cool with you if I bang Robin?"
The scenes with the kids were shot all at the same time, right at the start of the series. Meaning it was planned the whole time.
So, no, this wasn't some rushed, perhaps forgivable, last-minute bodge. It was nearly a decade of keeping a secret and not thinking of a better idea.
Hilariously, more people watched the finale than any other episode. An episode where the climactic scene is three people neither in the same room, nor decade, plodding through the biggest middle finger to an audience in history.
In the ending, the kids do a good job of calling out Ted's story as a manipulative way of him justifying wanting to do a shitty thing. Just like every other scenario in the show.
THE ONE REDEEMING THING IS THIS:
The guy who plays Marshall's dad is the voice of Patrick in Spongebob.
And maybe the opening song.