Who would’ve thought How I Met Your Mother fans could be so vitriolic?
A few weeks ago, the CBS sitcom — which can only be described as big-hearted and affable — wrapped up its nine-year run, and based on the audience reaction to the finale, you’d think the show ended with the gang going on a dolphin-murdering expedition. Spoiler alert: We find out how hopeless romantic Ted Mosby meets the mother of his children. The problem, in many viewers’ minds, is that it didn’t end there. It kept going, flying through the next decade-plus in the show’s timeline to reveal that the mother has died, and that Mosby’s ultimate fate is to wind up marrying his longtime crush and best, friend Robin Scherbatsky.
Apparently, this was very upsetting to people.
As I’ve mentioned in this column before, I am a (very) casual HIMYM fan. Up until this last season, I never watched the show in chronological order, only catching random episodes in syndication. It replaced Seinfeld — which now just plays on an endless loop in my head — as my post-work, pre-primetime go-to. I never had a particularly deep emotional investment in the characters, so perhaps I’m not in a position to tell disappointed die-hards to buck up, but c’mon: It wasn’t that bad.
Generally speaking, I’ve found myself perplexed lately at just how mad people get over popular culture. Whether it’s television, music, movies, whatever; if it exists, someone out there is fuming about it and has the tools to broadcast that anger to the rest of the First World. For me, though, it’s been a long time since any piece of art has filled my lungs with bile. It’s made me wonder: Have I grown out of hating things?
Don’t get me wrong: I still think stuff sucks. Although I’ve never liked referring to myself as a “critic,” criticism is still part of my job, and I have opinions, some of them strong. But rarely does something sucking make me mad anymore. I mostly just think it’s funny.
There was certainly a point in my life when I routinely shook my fist at pop culture. I believe I’ve written the phrase “love and hate are flipsides of the same coin” before. I definitely thought that in order to admire one thing passionately, you had to despise something else with equal vigor. Now, when I see critics tear apart an album as if the artist pushed his grandmother down the stairs, or petition to deport Justin Bieber, or get really upset that Breaking Bad didn’t end the way they envisioned, I just think: Are these things really worth the raised blood pressure?
Maybe I’m getting soft. Maybe I’m a little too comfortable with where my life is now to grit my teeth over a sentimental network comedy reaching a sentimental climax. Or maybe I’m just old enough to realize that subpar art has no bearing on my actual life, and that it can’t degrade the art that makes my life better.
And now, back to the NBA playoffs and rooting for the demise of the Houston Rockets. God, I hate that Dwight Howard so much!
i Need Media is a biweekly media column by Matthew Singer. Follow him on Twitter@mpsinger.