Ok. I have a bone to pick with Hollywood…Not that anyone will read this post but let me pretend for a second that they will.
In 2009 a little independent movie came out called 500 Days of Summer. (Spoiler). This little film did something very brave. They were courageous enough to tell a love story that wasn’t THE love story. The poster even says
‘This is not a love story. It is a story about love’
So it tells a story about a couple that needed to be together for a period and then needed to say goodbye. That was perfect. It was brilliant. It was brave.
It was also unique…
It also made 7 times it’s budget and cemented it’s 2 leads as stars, and make no mistake it deserved every penny it made.
Unfortunately there is nothing Hollywood loves more than a cloning device trying madly to duplicate any success- especially one that is 60 million dollars of success.
Here’s the thing. The reason that ending worked for 500 Days of Summer is that they were legitimately wrong for each other. It was the happy ending to have the couple split.
Normally that is not what I want out of a romantic plot line in a story. I can’t believe I actually have to say this out loud but I generally want the couple we are told are going to get together to actually get together! And it does not make you a better writer or director or producer because you surprise me with a break up or the couple you have been telling me are wrong for each other actually get together. That is the opposite of what 500 Days of Summer did.
500 Days also made it clear from reel one that this was a different kind of story.
As viewers we are prepared for a non-traditional ending. In fact, we know that Tom believes when he finds ‘The One’ he will be happy. That is a pretty clear sign that he probably won’t be and that he’s going to learn a little bit about happiness. So again, as viewers we are prepared for a unique film and if Summer and Tom had gotten together at the end I would have been seriously ticked off. I would feel cheated.
The writers would have wimped out on their promise from reel one and nothing ticks me off more than that…hmmm I wonder what has happened recently where writers promised one thing on day one and then wimped out on the ending? 😉
It’s not just How I Met Your Mother but I’ve seen it so many times lately. I was watching TV yesterday and there it was again. The bittersweet break up. The writers of that show made us wait 4 months for a couple to get together, gave us 1 episode and then the break up. I wanted to scream. Stop it!
Stop leading us to love and then stomping all over it. Given only 2 romantic comedies came out last year and both were stinkers I’m beginning to wonder if Hollywood knows how to write romance any more? It’s really not that hard. Go into a typical bookstore and you will find shelves after shelves of romantic stories. Why? Because people like them! People like me!
The other thing we like is seeing our characters happy. If you have spent 9 years convincing us a character is bad for another person don’t have them end up together. We won’t like it….I digress (it’s still tough guys).
I’m actually getting to the point where I resent 500 Days of Summer because I can’t take the copy-cats. As I said, the characters in 500 were happy in the end. We want our characters to be happy and most of the time that involves finding true love. I mean are we so jaded as a culture that we don’t believe in love? We don’t believe everyone can have a great love story?
I mean thank goodness for Frozen. At least Disney hasn’t lost a happy ending for its heroines but I’m telling you if I see an animated bittersweet ending I think I will scream.
Please take a lesson from 500 Days of Summer and actually give what you say you are going to give. Actually tell the story you promise to tell and if that naturally ends in your characters falling in love and being happy that’s ok. That usually happens to most of us, or so I am told…I promise I will not think less of your writing skills because you have the courage to have a happy ending. I promise!
In fact, my favorite movie of all time tells the perfect love story in the first 5 minutes. It is predictable and sappy but oh how moving. Life and death can be bittersweet enough on their own.
Just tell the story you have promised to tell.
Ok. Rant done. Do any trends like this make you nuts?
I’ve been thinking this week about stories. Why are stories so important in our life? Why do they matter? And why do some stories create such an impact on me and do nothing or the reverse for others? Why do we care so much about these stories?
Of course what made me ponder on the topic was my disappointment at the end of the story for How I Met Your Mother. A story I had invested 9 years on and did not end the way I wanted it to. It is after all just a TV show. What’s the big deal?
Well let me tell you a story and maybe it will make a little more sense why it was such a big deal. After my mission I got a job working in a cubicle, entering data and printing checks. It was supposed to be a temporary position till I could find something else but a year stretched into two and then I started school so two became three.
I wanted to quit everyday, and I knew that God wanted me to quit, but I lacked the courage. The courage to dive off into an unknown while going to school. At least the horrible job was something and the unknown could be even worse?
I was scared and fear is an evil little sucker. I was also unhappy but I saw no break in the unhappiness if I quit. It seemed like I should be happy. Other people were unemployed and had no job so what was my problem? Why couldn’t I feel happiness any more?
I did have a manager who was extremely manipulative and treated me like a bug that needed to be squished, but even if she would have been a saint, I would have been unhappy. I usually am when I am scared and not doing what God wants me to do.
So I kept going, and going, and the anger and resentment built up inside me until I was scared I would explode. Finally, one day in Feb 2007 I kind of did. I grabbed my purse and I ran out of the office. Then I called my head boss and let it all out.
I proceeded to then have my first panic attack. I felt like I would lose control and all those feelings would come out and I would embarrass myself. I couldn’t breathe or speak and for a second I wondered if I was going to die. It was awful. One of the worst days of my life.
The next Monday at the office things were awkward but I made it through and things started to be better. I had a new manager, less assignments, hours and even a desk by the window. I made it through the summer and yet the nagging feeling of unhappiness didn’t leave me. It was less a boiling point and more of a steady simmer. It still wasn’t what God wanted me to do and I was still afraid to take the leap.
Finally in September, I made the decision- I quit. I gave my notice and helped them train a new person and December 21, 2007 I walked out of the office with a box of desk nicknacks and shouted in the air ‘I did it!’. I had quit my job. I was diving into the unknown and looking for work in 2008. Only crazy people quit their jobs in 2008, but I did and it was one of the best days of my life. I knew it was right. I knew for sure.
That day my friends and I went and celebrated my freedom at Bucca di Beppo’s and a weekend at the Marriott in SLC. This isn’t the greatest picture but it is one of my greatest memories.
But you know what happened after I took this great leap? It took me 6 months of interviews before I found a job, and even then it was only because of the mercy of my Dad letting me manage his properties I found anything. I knew I had done the right thing but it was scary nonetheless. God does not always iron out all the wrinkles when he gives you a new shirt to wear. At the end of 2008 I said on this very blog (I started the blog in May 2008):
“It has been a year of healing and growth, and I am immeasurably stronger as a result. It all started last December with my taking the big leap of faith and quitting my job. I knew I needed a change and that the Lord wanted me to be doing something else, so I left everything in His hands.
Not knowing where life was taking me I entered the job hunt- interviewing for nearly 40 companies over 6 months. There were so many jobs that I thought for sure I would get and then I wouldn’t. The Lord definitely made me wait and show my faith before helping everything to work out.”
So, you perhaps can understand why it was so meaningful mere weeks after quitting that I saw this:
Someone got it. Someone understood my story. That’s why I stuck around for 9 years. That’s why it meant so much to me. It was the story and just like my story ended well, I wanted to see Marshall and the gang’s end well. I’ll get over it. I promise.
We all have our stories, and they all matter. Stories matter.
Since I just posted my favorite How I Met Your Mother episodes I feel it is appropriate to post my reaction the finale. Well friends…
Way back in season 5 episode 2 they had a conceit that Marshall couldn’t look at other women without having a Lilly death fantasy. Lilly gets sick, he grieves, and then he can move on to whatever hot woman he is currently looking at. Tell me that this isn’t the finale but in non-fantasy form?
Part of the reason it isn’t just a bad episode is the narrative structure of the show. A TV show like Seinfeld could get away with a sucky finale because there wasn’t a strong narrative to the stories. They didn’t really connect and could stand on their own in humor, jokes, storyline. HIMYM was built on it’s narration. That was the entire gimmick.
Here is this man telling us and his kids how he met their mother. It’s a specific narrative where we expect specific results. It’s like someone telling you a knock-knock joke- you expect the knock and the who’s there.
It really does hurt the entire show for me- not ruin but hurt. Endings are important in a narrative. I want to see the ring destroyed at the end of Lord of the Rings. I want to see Jane and Rochester get together. I want to see Harry beat Voldermort. The writers promised us the viewers an ending that we didn’t get.
It was supposed to be Ted’s great journey of how he met the mother and how that changed everything. Instead we got the alternate love story tagged on. Not the one we were promised all along but the one the writers had literally been spending 7 years convincing us was a bad idea. How is that satisfying? Just end with the mother at the train with the umbrella. That would have been perfect…
Ted and Robin dated in season 2 of the show. At the end of the season they break up because they realize ‘we have an expiration date’. While being right for each other in some ways, they want different things out of life. Robin wants to travel, focus on her career, and lead an exciting life. Ted, on the other hand, wants a house in the suburbs, kids, family, marriage.
So, are we supposed to assume that the expiration date really didn’t exist and that all these reasons they weren’t a match simply went away because he had kids with another woman? (Also, did it fit with Ted’s character in the show to have him drag out his wedding for 7 years? Are you kidding me? And we don’t even get to see the actual wedding!) Like I said, it’s like Marshall with the death fantasy- still get to be the great husband and father but also have his desire for Robin fulfilled. So lame.
So let’s assume the expiration date does go away and Robin and Ted were to really get together. Why writers do you spend an entire season on a weekend wedding only to spend the finale covering 15 years with divorce, death, and reuniting? Why not spend the final season getting to know the mother, seeing their relationship and then at the end of the season you could have the mother die if you wanted to go that way? Badly done!
So in conclusion Ted learned nothing in 9 years…
Ever since his emmy nomination in 2007 (season 2) the show has been practically carried by Neil Patrick Harris- sometimes to a fault. The episodes in seasons 5-7 were very Barney-centric with the playbook and Barney’s womanizing behavior featuring in almost every episode. But we also saw the character grow and learn things about his selfish life. He even tells Robin ‘I don’t always want to be that guy’. Well, evidently the writers disagree.
In one scene Barney and Robin fight in Argentina about his blog (if Barney is a lifestyle blogger how is that not the perfect companionship to Robin’s traveling and career? There are thousands of people who make a living doing that type of blogging?). Then they break up (again whole season devoted to their wedding weekend and it dissolves in a minute…). Next we are shown him having the ‘perfect month’ of sexual conquests, a new playbook and a baby with girl #31 (that is literally her name. We never see her or learn her name).
There was one nice moment with Barney and his daughter but why not have Barney and Robin adopt a girl in their travels or maybe he is an especially great uncle or anything but an illegitimate love child with a woman we haven’t been introduced to or known?
So in conclusion, Barney learned nothing from 9 years…
The person they turned Robin into also was so disappointing. She doesn’t even leave the show as a good friend. She has clearly broken Lilly’s heart time and again. Isn’t there for the ‘big moments’ and honestly in today’s modern communication is there any excuse for not being there in the big moments? Does Skype not exist for these people?
They even say in the finale that Ted has a ‘rare Scherbatsky sighting’. That’s not how I want to leave my friend of 9 years. As a cold, aloof, divorced woman who never communicates with her friends any more?
So in conclusion Robin learned nothing from 9 years…
And then we have Marshall, my favorite character. In season 2 there is an episode called ‘the best burger in New York’ where Marshall is debating about getting a job at GNB when he really wanted to be an environmental lawyer. He tries to find the right job and the right burger but nothing is as good as he had imagined it being 8 years ago, so he settles for the corporate job.
Then in the 3rd season he is so unhappy that in an episode called The Chain of Screaming he can’t take it any more and he quits. Nothing is worth feeling that way. This actually meant a lot to me at the time as it aired in Feb 2008 and I had just quit my job in December 2007, was unemployed and Marshall’s work journey felt very personal to me.
So, what do we get in the finale? Oh Marshall goes back to a lame corporate law job for who knows how many years! What! Yes, he then becomes a judge, but I couldn’t believe they had him go back to corporate law. After how unhappy he was would Lilly ever allow him to go back there? No way.
So in conclusion Marshall learned nothing from 9 years…
And then we’ve got Lilly left. She was in many ways the mother of the show- the warm nurturing presence for the cast. What does she end up like? Well, she is left crying a lot. We don’t really get a satisfying end for her character just a lot of crying. Why not show her happy as a mother and her kids happy? Something other than 15 years of crying.
So in conclusion Lilly…who knows what she learned in 9 years…
What did I learn in 9 years? Well, I had a lot of laughs with characters that were my same age and that I related to. In many ways their journey was my 20s. Not in the sense of what happens to them happened to me but that we became a grown up together. So for the characters to have gone on that journey with me and then end up not learning anything is very disappointing.
Nevertheless, I am going to chose to focus on the journey. It’s been a crazy 9 years.
So in conclusion Rachel learned something…
(I recognize this post is not my greatest writing but it was honestly kind of emotional for me to see things end the way they did. Like I said when I quit my job in 2007 this show meant a lot to me. I’ve stuck with it for 9 years, 3-4 of it that weren’t very good just so I could get this ending and it sucked. It really sucked)
Gather round folks let me tell you about a little show I have loved called How I Met Your Mother. Back in 2009 I wrote about it in one of my first posts to get a decent amount of hits. Regina Spektor and the Murtaugh List
At that point I described it as ‘my favorite show’ and while it has fallen on hard times in the writing department the last 3 years, it will always be one of my favorite shows ever.
If you don’t know the conceit of the show is a middle aged man named Ted sits his kids down and tells them how he met their mother. This narration continues each episode for all 9 seasons- long story! (It really should have ended at season 6).
In truth, the title might have been more correct as ‘How WE met your mother’ because it is not just Ted’s story but also his best friends Marshall (Jason Segal), Lily (Allison Hannigan), Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). The cast is legend-wait for it- dary.
The key to this type of sitcom is a likable cast and they are incredibly likable. Enough so to keep me interested even when the writing got super lame.
Ted is that friend we all have who wants a relationship so badly they never seem to be able to keep a relationship. Lilly and Marshall are the sweet married couple we all wish we could be like.
Robin is the career obsessed, practical girlfriend most of us girls know (or are) and Barney, well there’s nobody I know like Barney (thankfully). He’s the womanizing cheese ball who admittedly gets most of the good laughs.
Anyway, with the finale airing tomorrow night, I thought it would be fun to share with all of you my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother.
All of these episodes are available for streaming on netflix so give them a watch and see if you think it as charming a show as I do. I really loved getting to know these characters over 9 years.
Top 10 How I Met Your Mother Episodes
1. Murtaugh (episode 19 season 4)
Let’s start with the episode that inspired me to blog. Ted creates a list of things things he’s too old to do now that he has turned 30 including attending a rave, getting an ear piercing, toilet papering, sleeping on a cot at a friends house etc.
Barney then decides to do everything on the list to prove he is still young and it sends him to the ER. I related enough to this idea enough to create my own list.
2. Monday Night Football (season 2 episode 14)-
Every year the group meets up to watch the Super Bowl but this year a guy from their favorite bar dies and the funeral stops them from watching. So, they DVR the game and have to go 24 hours without finding out the score. This proves to be especially difficult for Robin given she is a news reporter.
Given my recent rant on spoiler complainers it is probably of no surprise I find this episode funny. The effort each one must go to in order to stay away from the Super Bowl winner is very entertaining and it made me think of the good times I’ve had with friends over the years watching something on TV.
3. Lucky Penny (season 2 episode 15)-
Ted and Robin are racing through the airport trying to make a flight to Chicago for the interview of his dreams. As they run, they try to figure out who is to blame for them being late.
Is it Barney running the NY Marathon and then losing his ability to use his legs? Or perhaps Lilly for wanting to camp out in front of a bridal salon next to a car alarm going off? Maybe it is Marshall breaking his toe?
As they unwind the events that caused them to be late we can’t help but think back to similar moments in our own lives and the seemingly insignificant puzzle pieces that led up to them.
4. Slap Bet (Season 2 Episode 9)-
Robin refuses to go to the mall with the gang and everyone starts guessing why. Marshall and Barney make a bet called a slap bet where the person who wins gets to slap the loser as hard as they can.
The results of said bet are carried out through each season creating one of the best story threads for the show. It is also the introduction of Robin Sparkles, Robin’s teenage popstar alter ego.
5. Arrivederci, Fiero (Season 2 Episode 20. Season 2 had a lot of my favorites)-
In this episode Marshall’s beloved car, the Fiero, finally conks out after nearly 200k miles. For Marshall this is a symbol of his youth and it turns out to have sentimental value for all of the gang.
Perhaps the reason this season really hit me so hard is that it was 2007 when I was so unhappy at work and both Marshall and Ted are struggling with work-related issues. Marshall had dreamed of doing environmental law but with a new wife and her spending habits he is forced to take a corporate sell-out job.
At the same time Ted is working for a pompous idiot who has stifled his creativity and yells at him. I just related to the story of becoming an adult and how the work-world isn’t always what you thought it would be when you were in college.
The other day I was going through my dishes with my roommate and I still have my melmac plates from college. The idea of getting rid of them made me cry. That’s what Marshall feels with the death of his car.
There is also probably more backstory to the characters in this episode than any others. In a funny scene we learn that Barney doesn’t know how to drive:
6. Matchmaker- (Season 1, Episode 7)
I really only like this episode because of the B storyline. The A story is about Ted and Barney going to a matchmaker service and Ted finding out there are 8 women for him in the fishbowl that is New York City. In fact, there may not even be 8…
The B story is one of my favorites because it shows off Marshall’s innocence and charm. He is extremely superstitious and one afternoon He and Lilly see a creature in their apartment. She thinks it’s a cockroach. He thinks it’s a mouse.
After seeing it again they conclude it is the ‘cockamouse’. Skeptic Robin doesn’t believe them and scoffs at their crazy notions.
7. Spoiler Alert (Season 3 episode 8)-
Ted is dating what he see’s as the perfect girl but his friends can’t stand her. He can’t figure out what the problem is and they warn him about spoiling the image he has created of this girl.
Finally after incessant begging they tell him how she talks and talks and suddenly it starts driving him crazy. He didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out but once they did he can’t get it out of his head.
Through the course of the episode each of the friends has a similar spoil behavior- Lilly chews to loudly, Robin says literally all the time, Ted corrects everyone, Marshall is always singing etc…
I think most people who have friends or family can relate to this episode. We all put up with our friends bad habits because we know they are putting up with ours.
8. Intervention (Season 4 episode 4)-
Ted is engaged to Stella who he has only known for 6 months and the gang is concerned he is rushing into things. He is about to move to New Jersey to be closer to her when he finds out his friends are going to hold an intervention to show how worried they are.
It turns out this intervention strategy has been used many times before by the gang for things like Marshall’s ugly pants or Lilly’s Scottish accent.
We see the intervention come up in later episodes and it is a funny plot device. It’s just a well written funny episode.
9. Dowistroplia (Season 3 episode 7)-
Marshall and Lilly are thinking of buying an apartment but Lilly has a secret credit card debt she hasn’t told Marshall about. What makes this episode funny is the narrator gives us what the friends ‘should have said’ and then quickly what they actually said. For example, when Marshall see’s the apartment:
Marshall Eriksen: I’m going to stop you right there. Don’t bother with the hard sell. We can’t afford this place just now, and besides, we just started looking.
Narrator: Is what Marshall should have said.
Marshall Eriksen: I’m going to stop you right there. I love it! We’ll take it!
This rang true for me. How many times have friends asked you for feedback when what they really want is just a reassurance of what they have already done? It is also a great Marshall and Lilly episode because she finally has to admit she has a huge problem and debt.
10. Stuff (Season 2 Episode 16)-
Ted and Robin start off the episode with a fight. She doesn’t like how most of the items in his apartment were given to him by ex-girlfriends. She wants him to get rid of all the ‘stuff’. Then he finds out that her 5 dogs are presents from boyfriends and Ted get’s upset calling Robin a hypocrite. Instead of dogs he now see’s her 5 ex-boyfriends hanging around her all the time.
That is all funny but the true cream of this episode is when Lilly asks the gang to come to her avant garde play which is awful. Barney is the only one who tells her he hated it and she’s offended.
To show her his side Barney makes them all go to his play where he dresses up like a robot, says the word moist over again and sprays Lilly with a squirt gun. It is also the 2nd showing of the slapbet. ,
I found this episode funny because haven’t we all been to that terrible recital or play to support a friend? I have no doubt that some have done that for me, that’s for sure!
So that’s my list. What are some of your favorites? I didn’t have any later episodes. Any those that you particularly like?
If you haven’t watched the show and have Netflix check out these episodes. I’d be surprised if they don’t at least make you smile.
(Oh another one I love at Christmas is How Lilly Stole Christmas)
So last week I went to a Regina Spektor concert. She is a very talented singer born in Russia who fits well into the indie female folksy genre that is so popular. She is similar to Ingrid Michaelson, Norah Jones, Aimee Mann, and Missy Higgins. In fact, in some ways I like her better because she is edgy and daring with melodies and arrangements. On the other hand, sometimes I don’t get her style- she’s too edgy for me! Her song Fidelity is featured in a Target ad right now and her songs Us and Hero were on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack.
Being fans, Anna and I were naturally excited to be attending her concert in Salt Lake. It was kind of a crazy weekend for me. I went to the Regina concert Friday night and then Saturday drove down to St. George for my friend Bonnie’s wedding. I was exhausted by the time Sunday came around! Thanks to Anna for coming with me to the concert and to St. George. She was such a great help to me, and it was a big sacrifice for her. I love you!
Anyway, Friday we went to the concert- Anna, her roommate Becca and myself. Before the concert we ate at the Pie up by the University of Utah (I know enemy territory!). It is the best pizza I have had outside of New York. You don’t even need any toppings. It’s delicious! After dinner we drove to the concert. It was at a club called In the Venue that is standing room only. It is the same place we went for the Ingrid Michelson concert but this time it was even more crowded. Plus, we arrived early so that added another hour to the standing. By the time Regina’s opening act was finished (btw the opening act was thoroughly lame…in the grand tradition of opening acts) I was already exhausted. It was a mosh pit with hardly room to move. To make matters worse, even though I was up front I was in a place where the grand piano blocked any view of Regina. No matter how I tried to crane my neck I couldn’t see anything but her legs on the pedals. This seemed like a lot to put up with for a pair of legs!
Finally the crowd made me feel nauseated and I was getting overheated. I bravely began to make my way through the crowd. I basically became a human plow trying to find my way to the back. Along the way I pushed many a young kid and even had some rude comments. One woman said “I was standing there first and thanks for stepping on my toes”. I felt like saying “I beg your pardon mademoiselle. I am sorry I didn’t ask your permission to step on you in a MOSH PIT!”. Rude! Finally I made my way back and wolfed down a Gatorade for $4. It was then that I realized “I’m too old for this stuff”.
I’m too old for moshing it at standing room only concerts. I’m too old for road trips with little sleep. I’m too old for Motel 6’s with lame, scratchy sheets. I’m too old for nothing but pizza and root beer for dinner. I need some nutrients! I’m too old for skipping 2 meals and then binging on a huge dinner. I’m too old for giant ice cream Sundays and anything with the words “extreme sour” in it. I’m too old for trendy clothes, head banging music, tantrums, sleeping in past 9, wearing t-shirts with “funny” sayings, practical jokes, big wads of bubble gum, prank phone calls, cartoon network, teeny bopper music, any kind of eating contest, glitter, costumes for no purpose, camping for “fun”, sleeping on the floor, watching the Hills or America’s Next Top Model, all-nighters, selling my blood, cosmic anything, group sports of any kind (especially dodge ball), Weird Al anything, Chef Boyardee, lame car games, ice skating and dancing to impress a boy (what was I thinking!), eating fake cheese, pop tarts, ramen noodles and most prepackaged foods, flirting to impress a boy, anything in a “fun land/arcade”, and petty fights with friends. The list goes on.
Basically I’m too old to be doing things that aren’t genuinely me. I am too old to be playing a part or trying to fit in. I am not saying I have to be completely selfish but when you are young you go along for the ride easier. Now I would be more likely to express my feelings and then agree to what others want to do. I remember going to concerts at the Velor in Provo. It is loud, crowded, and miserable. The music isn’t my taste and you know why I was there- to impress a boy. I am too old for that kind of stuff. If I do end up doing something on my Murtaugh list expect me to feel tired, even exhausted and grumpy. I will try my best but no guarantees!
If you are wondering about the title of my entry, the Murtaugh list comes from an episode of my favorite show How I Met Your Mother where Ted makes a list of the things he’s too old for. These include going to raves, sleeping on futons, piercing your ears, and laser tag. Then Barnie and Ted have a challenge where Barnie attempts to do all the things on the Murtaugh list and Ted does a list of stuff old people do like go to bed at 8 and eat at 4. It’s pretty funny.
The other unfortunate thing about the Regina concert is she had a foul mouth. It was too bad because her music is beautiful. I don’t know why women feel they have to be so ugly and unseemly. It makes me sad.