This is why you’re bothered by the HIMYM finale
Wasn’t planning on writing two back-to-back opinion posts but these things have been bothering me enough to say something.
If you’ve watched the finale, you know that the mother was a red herring the entire time. The story really was, and is, about how Ted and Robin end up together after years of orbiting around each other.
But if it left a distaste in your mouth and you can’t figure out why, let me tell you about the Women in Refrigerators issue in comic books.
The term comes from a 1994 story where a superhero returns to find that his girlfriend has been killed and stuffed into his refrigerator.
It’s a plot device, whereby a female character is killed or maimed in a male-centered story purely to make stuff happen for that male character. And it happens enough to have a name.
Turning back to HIMYM, we essentially meet the mother in a refrigerator in that we met her when she was already dead six years.
The purpose of the refrigerator in comic books is to shock and horrify; ditto for the reveal in HIMYM.
That’s why the finale bothered me. Because this character was ostensibly there purely to provide story impetus – and offspring – for Ted and then is conveniently killed off to make room for the person he’s loved all this time, Robin.
The entire last season, which could have been a look into the mother’s life – let’s call her Tracy, because characters of meaning deserve names – was instead just about Robin’s marriage, which itself was a red herring.
And Robin’s life is essentially a waiting game for Ted. So both females lives are disposable and there to serve the protagonist of the story, that is all.
We’re not even told how Tracy died or why, that’s how marginal her death actually is.
Of course, does this happen in real life? Sure. Girlfriends and wives are killed every day, spurring the men in their lives to take action. But men are killed as well and this isn’t a major trope in writing.
Ultimately, to devote close to a decade of storyline to characters only to do a fake out seems cheap and easy.
I’m no hardcore feminist, but this is so glaringly distasteful that it’s difficult not to notice it.
End rant. Back to nuthin later on this week.
Location: apartment on a rainy Monday morning
Mood: still irritated
Music: Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know – it’s serious
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