Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How Your Mother Met Me: Initial Thoughts

If you've ever watched How I Met Your Mother than you deserve the opportunity to watch tonight's 200th episode. We finally saw what the Mother has been doing for the past nine years - and she's far more than just "The Perfect Girl" so often trotted out in romantic comedies.

Her and Ted share interests (coins! calligraphy! Driving gloves!) but she's also her own character with her own trials and quirks and moments of real heartache. I've already seen some people attack Bays and Thomas by arguing that they're showing another "Weak woman devastated by a man." moment.

But HIMYM has always argued that love (or the perception of it) devastates the sexes equally. We watched Ted spend a year getting over Stella. We watched him flicker back to life before falling to the ground with Victoria (twice.) And we've seen the hold that Robin still holds in Ted's mind.

To give Cristin Millioti her own love story has always been crucial to the show - but they also gave her her own set of emotional setbacks and triumphs. What would be demeaning to women is if the Mother was sitting on a perch for a decade, just patiently waiting for Ted to get his incredibly pissy shit together.

Instead, she has her own theories about the cards that the universe has dealt her, her own inside jokes with her friends, even her own MacLaren's.

And look, there's an ungodly amount of fans gleeful about all the fan service and "This is why the Mother was in Place X and Time Y" moments. But connecting the dots is the easy part.

The tough part is in making me feel that the tapestry was worth threading together in the first place. And Millioti's performance goes a long way towards that goal. She sells the hell out of that English Muffin gag, somehow portraying a years-long relationship with the tiniest of moments. In lesser hands her "conversation" with Max could be horrendously cheesy, but instead I found myself reaching back to the moments where I've felt loss myself, keying in to her much deeper wound. It's only melodrama if you're doing it wrong.

 The show can never fully recover from the entire seasons spent with characters in stasis, or Lily's awful pregnancy cliches, or the show's condonement of Barney repeatedly gaslighting Robin -
But for tonight, it feels great to remember the reasons why I nearly missed a flight nine years ago, laptop next to an empty seat in the terminal. Watching a show that reminded me of all those thunderously big emotions that my generation tries to stifle under an avalanche of our own cleverness.

Cleverness is always outpaced by sincerity, in the end.

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