How I Met Your Mother’s shitty conception of romance

[Note: Spoilers for the final episode in here, beyond that “he meets the mother.”]

I woke up this morning to a stream of angry Facebook posts about the How I Met Your Mother finale, so me and Steph watched it before work. I’ve been watching HIMYM for a solid 8 years now, and unlike most generic sitcoms, I’ve never fallen off from watching it. I just love Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel so goddamn much that I was able to put up with the fact that the lead of HIMYM, Ted Mosby, was an insufferable little shit, and was just a raging narcissist with a romantic facade (and right down to the last episode too: when Robin and Barney admit they’re getting divorced, he says, “This is my parents all over again!” Get a hold of yourself, Ted, your friends are going through something here).

As for the other major plot points, I find myself less upset than I thought I would: the mother dying was hinted at a full season ago, and honestly, anyone who didn’t think she was a MacGuffin after over 180 episodes without her making a single appearance was deluding themselves (and that includes myself, by the way). Narratively, the ending was much neater than I expected it to be: literally the only explanation for him telling his kids this ridiculous long story that didn’t involve the mother beyond the last 2 minutes was so he could ask out Robin.

That’s not what infuriates me about HIMYM: it was a funny show that made it’s final intentions clear from the very first episode. What I have a problem with is the show’s entire idea of romance.

By my count, and I could be missing a few here, the show has a total 8 proposals among its 5 main characters. Marshall proposes to Lily twice, Ted proposes to Stella, Victoria, and the Mother twice, Barney proposes to Quinn and Robin, and Kevin proposes to Robin. Only three of those result in actual marriages (one of which fails after three years), the others are just romantic gestures, explained away when they are no longer narratively convenient as just not be “destiny,” or “fate,” or “the Universe.”

The characters won’t shut the fuck up about the universe.

Guys: the known universe is 93 billion light years in diameter. You are 0.0000000000000002114 light years in diameter (assuming you’re tall and you’re measuring arms spread from fingertip to fingertip). It’s predicted total mass is 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms. You probably weigh less than 100 kilograms.

The universe has bigger things to give a shit about than your love life. It does not care about who you bang. At all. At. All. Yes, there are circumstances and factors that are out of your control in romance, and yes, it would be nice to think that these circumstances aren’t arbitrary, and that one of the truly essential cogs in the functioning of the cosmos is you getting to eventually pump cheeks with the right person, but do you really think, in the grand scheme of things, that Ted Mosby’s penis is that all-important?

Because let’s be honest: we’re not talking about the universe. We’re talking about God. We’re talking about Ted needing to believe that God cares about his penis. Or, you know, his heart, I guess. They could have said that from the start, they could have been honest, but they went for ratings instead and pulled God a little further back, though little bits on the importance of belief run through the show: Marshall’s lovable belief in Sasquatch and other paranormal figures, his belief in “miracles,” Ted’s “thanking every God there ever was” for meeting the mother before she died.

For me, I know that I don’t want God or fate involved in my relationships. Because if you take God out of your relationship, you don’t have an attitude of “Well, if it’s meant to be, it’ll all work out.” Instead, your attitude is geared on making it work, because no guiding hand is holding things together. You can build something instead of proposing to every third girl you date, just because fuck it, it’ll be a romantic gesture!

This makes commitment cheap and expendable. It takes any of the blame for a failed relationship away from the participants and puts it into God’s hands. And that’s why I can’t take How I Met Your Mother seriously, no matter how wonderful Neil Patrick Harris is.

"A Whole New World" is about losing your virginity

"A Whole New World" is about losing your virginity

20 years left for civilization, 20 years to buy a new Swiss Army Knife