Shipping Barney and Robin used to be a pleasure. Until season five, when the Titanic could have learned a thing or two. But How I Met Your Mother won me over again by committing themselves to turning Barney into a grown-up, which was not only gutsy but the only way to keep the show moving forward, when it looked like they had panicked and hit the reset button.
I could give up on Robin and Barney, because frankly, after that debacle they were better apart. And then, season 7 opener, we get the dance scene. I am a writer folks, but I don’t know if you could write chemistry as clearly as they dance it:
And as a writer my reaction is this: they let Barney and Robin slide for almost two seasons. There’s only one reason they’re bringing them back with such a punch – in the season where we know Barney gets married. And there’s only one reason I want them to get together so badly: because that’s what the writers want me to want.
All of which adds up, in my head, to: Robin and Barney are getting married.
The romance does develop over season 7 – and then comes episode 10 “Tick, tick, tick”. That episode seriously broke my heart – but in all the best ways. Finally, finally, we were getting the emotional pay-off season five so spectacularly crapped all over.
But then came episode 12, “Symphony of illumination”. I won’t spoil it here, but for those who follow the show, I was in the “that totally screwed with me” camp. It was evidence, for me, that Robin and Barney were actually never going to be together. It undid my faith that I shipped them because the writers wanted me to ship them – that after sailing seven years of stormy seas, the writers were going to bring the relationship to dock in some very gay harbour where the sun is always setting… Oh wait, that’s Jean Genet.
It made me a little angry. But more than that, it effectively snipped my obsession with the show in half. Not a conscious decision – it simply stopped featuring in my week. A few episodes slipped by and I could hardly be bothered catching up.
Now, out of nowhere, Ted has revived the idea that Robin and Barney are in love. And I want to punch something.
It was pitch-perfect. It was finally fulfilling Victoria’s prediction that Ted wouldn’t find love until he dealt with his feelings for Robin. Barney’s reaction showed us how much he’s grown up – when all we’ve been seeing lately is his old slap-stick face.
But I just don’t know if I can invest in them again – and to me that’s bad writing.