Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Returning Shows: HIMYM (Actually Meeting the Mother)

I know I’ve mentioned How I Met Your Mother a lot in the past couple of weeks. And months. But we’re going to dive back into that well once again because the eighth and possibly final season has just begun, leaving us with a very interesting situation: we might actually meet the mother.

Crazy, right?

Since the beginning of the show, we’ve all kind of known that we can’t meet the mother right away. The more genre savvy among us have pointed out that the show is structured in such a way that we absolutely can’t meet the mother, or we can’t know she’s the mother, until the very end of the show. So where does that leave us?

Well, seven seasons ago, it left us intrigued and wanting more. These days it leaves us a little annoyed and impatient. We are totally ready for Ted to meet the damn mother. Marshall and Lily have gotten engaged, broken up, gotten back together, gotten engaged again, gotten married, gone through a significant family tragedy, and had a freaking baby already! Get it together, Ted.

Of course we all know that it’s not Ted’s fault. It’s the stupid show’s fault for being good and popular and therefore getting renewed and making us wait. Dumb show. But this does leave us with a weird problem. After eight years of anticipation and hopes and ideas of who she is or what she’s like or who’ll play her, what if the mother, wait for it, sucks?

Trust me, I don’t like thinking this any more than you do, but we have to admit that it’s a distinct possibility. We all have actors we intensely dislike, some of whom have done polarizing guest stints on the show. Zoey was pretty divisive. Current opinion on Quinn seems to be that the jury’s still out. How do we know that when we get the mother we’ll like her?

We can always go with the assumption that we’ll have to. I mean, after all these years, we almost can’t let ourselves not like her. We’re ingrained to love her on sight, right?

I’m not saying that I want to hate the mother, and I’m not saying that her casting will ultimately matter at all. We still have no idea if she’s going to appear in the final episode, a season arc, or just the last thirty seconds of the last episode. The creators are pretty close mouthed about that, as they rightly should be.

What I’m more getting at is this: long running shows based around an anticipation premise run the risk of disappointing audiences when the plot finally pays off. We all felt the burn when The X Files started its decline. And we all cringed when the Luke and Lorelai thing just did not work out. Anticipation means that we’ll be eager for it forever. But milk us for too long (and isn’t that a disturbing mental image) and we’ll start to resent it.

I just hope you guys know what you’re doing, is all.

How I Met Your Mother airs on Mondays at 8pm on CBS.


  1. I agree about basing an entire show around an event we're all waiting to happen. Like The Mentalist for instance, where the audience has been waiting for 5 seasons now for Patrick Jane to catch Red John. Don't get me wrong, they've managed to make that story arc advance throughout sporadic episodes brilliantly. Just enough to keep us going through the episodes. But now that season 5 is over, I really am getting a sense of dread in wondering how in the hell the writers are going to satisfy us with their answer. It's become way too complicated (sort of like Lost) and they should wrap it up before we lose interest.
    To be clear, the story about Jane and RJ has been amazing, with so many twists and turns but the show can be just as good without the RJ story. They proved that with Tommy Volker (the "vilain" that appears in three episodes I believe). So anyways, all of this to say, I agree with what you're getting at.
    Now that the 8th season of HIMYM is over I have to say I loved it. Of course, it isn't the funniest one, but it had some fantastic episodes that brought me to tears, and if that's what HIMYM has become I'm fine with it because this is more of a drama-comedy to me.
    Great article, all the best in your future endeavors!

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