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[personal profile] next_to_normal
No, I haven't forgotten about this meme, lol. I just have so many things half-finished, I need to sit my ass down and finish something. I am the WORST MEME-COMPLETER EVER, you guys.

The full list of days, if you want to play along.

Day 7: The ship where the writers are DOING IT WRONG.
Barney Stinson/Robin Scherbatzky (How I Met Your Mother)

(Icons are here.)

It seems like an appropriate time to talk about Barney and Robin, since the show has decided to revisit the hot mess they've made for the eleventieth time. I swear, HIMYM is like a how-to guide for ruining your fandom's most popular ship. They were set up to be so perfect for each other, two sides of the same Scotch-drinking, laser-tag-playing, casual-sex-having coin, so it's almost hard to believe the writers could ruin it, but Barney/Robin was awesome right up until they started dating. And then, for some unknown reason, instead of them being the same awesome people they were before, just in a relationship, the writers suddenly start bending them totally out of character in order to generate conflict. You'd think there'd be enough conflict inherent in two commitment phobes trying to have a relationship to begin with, but somehow it required NPH in a fat suit? I'm not surprised the writers broke them up as soon as possible, because they clearly had no idea how to make B/R as a couple funny, but it seemed like a waste to get them together and then not doing anything with it. And if that had been it, it would've been a tragic missed opportunity, but I'd probably still care about them ending up together as the series comes to its conclusion.

Instead, it got worse.

What's happened in the last few seasons is, I think, less about Barney and Robin themselves, and more a part of everything that's been wrong with HIMYM in its later years. In particular, B/R suffers from two of the series' main flaws:

1. The show has an irritating habit of telling us the end of the story right up front, but then dragging it out past the point where the resolution is satisfying. The entire premise of the series is finding the "Mother," but even if we don't know her identity, we've been given enough clues that we generally can rule out most of the women Ted dates immediately. Which doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. It's the journey that matters, right? Those relationships could still be interesting, even if they're probably not the endgame. Frankly, Robin was the best relationship Ted's had, and we knew up front that it wasn't going to last. But the continual teases and clues and red herrings about the identity of the mother have long since stopped being an interesting part of the story, and have actually started to detract from the things the show does well. Too often, these episodes have felt like they're just checking the boxes, wrapping up things that were teased early on, but because they were mentioned so long ago and/or are so inconsequential to the story, the payoff just isn't worth it. At this point, I don't even care who the mother is (particularly since it seems we won't get to know her as a character, so all this build-up is for someone we'll only see in the final episode) but I want them to reveal her identity just so they'll stop dragging it out.

But instead of making any real progress toward the end of this godforsaken story, the show actually doubled down on the concept by teasing Barney's (and later revealed to be Robin's) wedding. Which, again, the journey of Barney and Robin getting back together could be really interesting - except that instead of actually letting it happen, the show has introduced no less that FIVE love interests to come between Barney and Robin, which leads us to the show's second flaw...

2. When a member of the group is in a long-term relationship with someone outside the group,
the significant other is never really developed as a character. We tend to only see their girlfriend/boyfriend when the plot involves a relationship milestone, so they don't get integrated into the group, and we're not really expected to care about them except as an extension of the main character they're dating. I don't understand why the show insists on introducing these love interests if they're not even going to make an effort to get the audience invested in the relationship. The reason that Ted/Robin worked so well is because Robin was an actual fully-developed character, not just another placeholder until Ted meets the mother. But most of the time, the show's love interests have been a parade of vaguely drawn ciphers who are only there to be plot devices. All the back and forth with Nora and Kevin and Quinn and Nick and now freakin' Patrice is just the writers killing time, throwing up pointless obstacles because for some reason the show isn't ready to let Barney and Robin be together. I'm at the point now where I genuinely don't even care how or when Barney and Robin are getting back together, because the show has just run it so far into the ground.
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