Saturday, May 18, 2013

Some thoughts on How I Met Your Mother

If you read my last blog post, you'll know that I don't watch TV the same day or week where something premieres.  The season 8 finale of How I Met Your Mother was on TV five days ago, but I've only managed to watch it now.  As much as the show seems to drag on endlessly for some viewers, I have to say that I felt the season 8 finale, "Something New," was incredibly rewarding for someone who's followed the show longer.  OK, I'll admit I was late coming to it and only started watching regularly in its third season, but this particular episode is a great example of why I keep coming back.

I'm generally not a huge TV person and there are only a few shows I've ever followed regularly.  Sitcoms are an especially interesting genre because I don't really have much patience to follow a show.  Friends got old after the sixth season, as did Scrubs and Will & Grace.  I think Frasier was pretty good, but I was in middle and high school at the time, so probably didn't get the humor.  I've watched episodes of 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory, both of which I find absolutely hilarious, but I haven't seen every single episode, nor do I really plan on it.  The sitcom is a very episodic format, where things happen in one episode and it's done.  The overarching story exists, but is usually something that you can sum up in a few sentences.  I usually don't end up caring about characters in the long term.

For me, that's not true with HIMYM.  Each character has his or her strengths and stories and although Ted is the main character, we care about what happens to Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Barney as well.  The show is not just about the funny moments, but also the ones that make you think or the ones that make you cry.  Sure, the show's title How I Met Your Mother is essentially what the show is about and that's what I always argue with people who say, "I want to know who the mother is already!"  It's not the who, it's the how.

In "Something New," there are moments that just really bring back story lines and jokes from previous episodes.  My favorite is when Lily asks, "Where's the poop?"  In the episode where this line first appears (Season 6, "Unfinished"), the question, "Where's the poop?" is meant to get Robin to tell Lily about her drunk dialing Don after he's moved to Chicago.  Similarly, here in season 8 it's about getting Ted to tell Lily about how he hasn't gotten over Robin.  The whole Robin-Ted story line has been running since the show began and I like how it continues to appear.  We as the audience know that Robin isn't the mother, but it's part of the journey to get us to the mother.  Relationships are always complicated and the Robin-Ted story reflects that. 

By the time the episode comes to an end, we finally see the mother.  She has the yellow umbrella that we have gotten to associate with her and the bass that she plays in the Robin and Barney's wedding band.  And she's buying a train ticket to Farhampton where we saw Ted at the beginning of season 8 talking to Klaus about Lebenslangerschickshalschatz (not a real German word, but kind of awesome because it's all real German words stuck together).  We know that Ted is so incredibly close to meeting the girl he'll marry, but for him, he feels desolate, hopeless, and abandoned.  The other plot lines (Robin & Barney's future together, if Lily & Marshall go to Rome) are just as important, but for the moment, we can finally savor having a face to the titular character.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How Social Media is Ruining TV (for me)

I don't consider myself a big TV person, but I am a loyal fan of two current shows: How I Met Your Mother and Mad Men.  I keep up-to-date with them, as well, meaning, I am on the current season for both shows.  Thank God for the internet.

But seriously, even though the internet allows me to watch these shows, I can't watch them on Monday (for HIMYM) or Sunday (for Mad Men).  In order to avoid finding out anything that happened, I practically have to avoid all social media the day after new episodes air.  I have too many friends that watch them and will write something about it.  Twitter is the worst, especially when it comes to Mad Men.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the Mad Men/AMC social media team and think they are doing a fantastic job of hyping and getting the show discussed.  But I know that tomorrow morning, about 3/4 of my Twitter feed will be filled with reactions to Mad Men that the show retweeted.  A good example is when the current sixth season started -- I knew before I watched the episode that (SPOILER ALERT!) Don was back to his womanizing ways and sleeping with his neighbor.  As a result, the suspense from the fifth season's cliffhanger was sort of anticlimactic.  Of course, I still watched the episode, but my reaction was sort of, "OK, I know that already."  Here's some examples of what I don't really want to see at all, even though I would click on it after watching the episode (this past week was surprisingly not too bad):

The funny thing is that after I started writing this blog post, the AV Club tweeted about an add-on which essentially makes social media ruining your TV viewing habits your own fault.  It was as if they read my mind or something:

I guess I'll have to try it, but I wonder if it would block everything related to the shows I watch?  Because I like reading about the non-spoiler stuff, like production or what have you.  I'll give the add-on a whirl and see if I like it.

On a related social media note, is Facebook asking anyone else for more information?  I constantly get this screen when I log in:

It's great that Facebook is trying to get more information from me and I get it.  Try to make the whole social media experience more personalized, "more social."  But there's quite obviously a reason why I haven't shared 40% of my information nor updated anything relevant.  So Facebook, please, stop asking me for this information.  At least add an option to not see this screen again because it's just annoying.  I also find it slightly irritating that I can't delete my college information.  This isn't really relevant to have on my Facebook profile anymore; it was useful when Facebook was only open to college students.  Has anyone else figured out how to get rid of that information?  I've tried with absolutely no luck.

And now I officially feel like I'm really going retro.