My TV

19 May 2009

What If…

By // TV

What if your two favorite, bubble-stuck shows both got renewed?

And what if your other two favorite shows had finales that restored your faith in them AND made you incredibly excited for next season just at the moment when you thought there was nowhere left for them to go?

Yeah. That’s right. That’s the world I’m living in.

The finales of Gossip Girl and How I Met Your Mother (both of which I’ve had issues with this season, although GGmore so than HIMYM) were on tonight. And despite somewhat rocky moments, both delivered what I needed.

Let’s start with Gossip Girl. About halfway through, I literally shouted “UGH!” It was around the ten millionth time Leeighton Meester had to make her way tearily through a declaration of love to an unrelenting Chuck Bass. The moment felt repetitive and manipulative, but most damning of all, it had me bored. I am one hundred and forty percent in favor of a Blair/Chuck hook up, and I found myself tired of all the antics and let down by the writers. Add to that the seeming impossibility of what the show was offering us (Gossip Girl’s identity for one, and continued new and interesting antics for two) and I certainly was thinking this finale might be better served as a series finale, if only so that the characters could truly make movements in their character archs.

And then Lily and Rufus got high, and reflected on their long and storied past, and realized just how stupid they were both being. And Georgina got into NYU and decided to try and live with Blair (who would have thought I would one day be happy to have Michelle Trachtenberg invade my favorite show? But god love me, I think I’ve fallen for G.). And Nate, Vanessa, and Dan had an adorable, witty, well written interaction at the coffee shop that made me think that at least one of these three might have a compelling storyline next year. And most importantly, just after I checked the time on my DVR to make sure there was sufficient space left for this, Blair started walking down the street straight into the arms of a gift-laden Chuck Bass, back from Europe with gifts a plenty to make up for his constant verbal constipation and stupidity, and (TWICE) saying those magical three little words, making Blair squeel with joy. Big props to both Leeighton Meester and Ed Westwick for this one; not only did Ed Westwick early on make Chuck’s 1,000 “I don’t love you” speech seem at least somewhat different from the 999 before it, but when the time came for the romantic ending, the palpable joy they both expressed here helped to make this moment feel every bit as epic and climatic as it needed to be. Between this, Georgina, and the ticking time bomb of brother boy (who is a total hottie, btb) for Lily and Rufus, I suddenly felt refreshed and energized for a new season of text messaging goodness.

I had a similar moment during this ultimate episode of HIMYM. After last week’s severely disappointing episode (which made me feel like all of the week’s before hugging-montage, flashback-heavy, Lily-less episode was all a big dupe), about halfway through I was still pissed. Ted was spending all episode trying to draw a hat. Marshall was trying to jump off a roof*. And Barney and Robin? At first, Barney freaking out after Robin said she loved him (and basically negating all the character development we’ve invested in all damn season) made me unbelievably angry. How dare they take the cheapest way possible out of this story? Even when it was revealed that Robin was just trying to “Mosby” Barney (basically, she told him she loved him so that he would stop loving her because he was so freaked out), I was still pissed.

And then I realized: it’s just Gossip Girl again! One of the problem with lovable-bad-boys-who-would-probably-be-awful-to-date-in- real-life-but-who-are-so-damn-endearing-on-television is that it takes them awhile to make the right decision. And as it turned out, giving in to the lust that sits on top of the deeper feelings they’re developing during a shouting match in which Robin continually tries to Mosby Barney and Barney keeps having to fight his desire to respond to “Let’s get married.” with “Let’s just be friends”, was actually the perfect way for me to (FINALLY) see Barney try on that suit again. It stayed true to Robin, too, which was really the most important part to me. I’ve been kind of worried all season that we hadn’t seen any real development of feelings on Robin’s part for Barney (other than occasionally of the lustful variety, such as in “the fight,” and I would argue that they did a good job of laying the groundwork for why she would love Barney, just not why she did). So at first when Robin told Barney she was in love with him, I was the bad kind of floored. It makes much more sense that Robin, smart as she is, doesn’t really harbor crushes the way that Barney could because she just doesn’t really deal with her feelings.

And oh yeah, there was a Ted story too. And it (kind of) fixed all the problems I had with last week’s episode (or at least the overall story problems, the individual episode was still kind of filler). Turns out, that hand under the umbrella was a damn big deal, but not because she was the mother or because Stella introduced him to the mother. And it’s not something as lame as “well emotional closure with Stella helped me to move on to your mother.” No, in fact, it was Tony who Ted needed to meet up with again. Tony got Ted a teaching position, and as the episode capper revealed, it was that job that led to how he met their mother. Oh! And the goat kicked him in the head during an epic death wrestling match. It was kind of cool, actually.

So this weekHIMYM stayed crazy true to continuity and to the characters (even more so than I am, since I was all ready for Barney to drop being true to Barney in order to be with Robin, while the much-smarter-than-me writers knew how to do both). And it left me aching for more, with the new Ted job opening up all new storylines, and the Barney/Robin ridiculousness bound to continue.

OH! The show also did another fun nod to the characters pregnancy, when Lily lies and tells Marshall she’s pregnant to stop him from jumping, and has cute payoff when he tells her that “well, I noticed you gained some weight lately…” and she tells him she no longer cares if he dies. All in all, every single character was well served by this finale, even if Lily didn’t get much screentime, and it was a bit distracting that Robin mysteriously lost weight in between shots.

*Being the continuity buff that I am, I sort of loved this though. In the episode “Three Days of Snow” in which Ted and Barney discuss owning their own bar, Narrator Ted explains the different sets of “five words” that every man must say at one point in their life, and they’re almost always a mistake. What follows is a brief montage of those five words. At one point, it cuts to Marshall, wearing the same shirt, on the roof of their building saying, “I can totally jump that.” Oh yeah, they’re that good!

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