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How I Met Your More Awesome Friend

Robin Scherbatsky: 'This just in' is what I'm going to say when I'm stabbing you.

Isn’t that a great opening line?

So, I was watching The Avengers last weekend with my roomie (good movie! Evil brothers, kickass ladies, just what I like) and an agent fighting on the side of light and wearing tight pants like all the important people in the Avengers do, caught my eye.

SARAH: That’s Robin! Robin from How I Met Your Mother! I love Robin!
ROOMIE: I know you love Robin.
SARAH: I’m going to go straight home and watch How I Met Your Mother.
ROOMIE: We’ve been down that road before. You know how that ends.

How I Met Your Mother has this very common problem. The HIT problem. HIT does not mean ‘is hugely successful!’

It stands for Hero Is Terrible.

It is a sitcom told from the point of view of a dude who’s telling his two kids how he… met their mother, who over seven seasons is yet to be revealed. It’s mostly about his wacky hijinks with his bunch of friends.

Side characters, awesome! Lovely couple Marshall and Lily, free-wheeling singletons Robin and Barney. Ted, the hero on a search for fairytale love who acts like fairytale love is owed him and is deeply narrow-minded, however, gets up my nose so far he hits brain.

It also has the common sitcom problem where there is very little character continuity or development and sometimes all the people in it are just amazingly awful for the sake of comedy. What can you do?

So I watch it on and off until I get annoyed/Ted becomes unbearable/I get annoyed because Ted is unbearable.

But I always love Robin. That does not change.

Let us talk about Robin Scherbatsky, Canadian lady reporter living in America, commitmentphobe and sass bucket, dedicated to fun times and good drinks.

Admittedly, Robin’s job is not a huge feature of the show, except for when it causes her to have comic mishaps.

Ted: So, you're a reporter?
Robin: Sorta, I do those fluff stories at the end of the show, like... Monkey can play a ukulele. I'm hoping for some bigger stories.
Ted: Bigger... like, a Gorilla with an upright bass? Sorry, you're very pretty.

(Thank God, Ted does not get the girl! TED, THE PREMISE OF THE SHOW—ALL ABOUT HOW THIS TERRIBLE DUDE MEETS THE GODFORSAKEN MOTHER OF HIS UNFORTUNATE CHILDREN-- FORBIDS YOU ROBIN'S HAND! PRAISE THE LORD, GLORY HALLELUJAH. Because though people put themselves down all the time, other people don’t have to put them down, and dudes do not have to dismiss ladies’ jobs.)

But it is always shown as an important thing to Robin, who is ambitious.

Don: Look, Robin. You seem like a nice kid, but this is my 39th morning news show, and from those 39 shows I've learned a few things. 1. Avoid the all you can eat sushi buffet in Bismarck. 2. Don't go to the bathroom with your lapel mic still on, and 3. Your entire audience at this hour is one half-drunk slob sitting in his underwear.
Robin: Well let's do a great show for that half-drunk slob.

The one time Robin was shown as not taking a job because of a guy... well, that was shown as a mistake, and I'm not saying it always would be a mistake. But I am saying that 'Other Stuff Is A Valid Choice To Make Over Romance' is a message I like seeing.

Robin has national pride as well as pride in her job.

Robin: I am Canadian. Remember? We celebrate Thanksgiving in October.
Ted: Oh right I forgot. You guys are weird and you pronounce the word out, oot
Robin: You guys are the world's leader in hand gun violence; your health care system is bankrupt and your country is deeply divided on almost every important issue.
Ted: ... Your cops are called "mounties."

Robin: I'm proud to be Canadian. We may not have a fancy NFL team, or Prince, but we invented Trivial Pursuit—you're welcome, Earth.

Robin very casually dismisses traditional gender roles: not just interest in marriage and commitment and babies, but even interest in cleaning up. It’s fine to be interested in those things… but it’s also fine not to be, and I like that Robin is always very casual about it. She knows what she likes and what she doesn’t like, and there’s an array: pretty sundresses and Scotch and sexy good times, yes! Babies, no. Robin is clear about what she wants and where she stands, always. Even when a lot of people are trying to make her feel bad about what she wants and where she stands—or are just dismissing it or making fun of her, she says the way she feels is valid.

Also, she was briefly a pop star and she can fly a helicopter if she has to and shut up, Ted.

Ted: [Seeing Robin eat cereal] That looks good. I’ll have some of that.
Robin: Sorry. No milk.
Ted: But I just saw a carton of milk in the fridge yesterday.
Robin: It’s empty.
Ted: Then throw it away.
Robin: Can’t. Trashcan’s full.
Ted: So empty the trash.
Robin: I would, but I’m eating cereal.

Ted: Robin hates kids.
Robin: I don't *hate* kids!
Ted: Well, you don't want to have any.
Robin: I like sports cars, but I don't want to push a Ferrari through my vagina.

Robin: Babies are scary, OK? They have giant eyes, and come on, the soft spot? If there's gonna be a self-destruct button, at least hide it somewhere it won't accidentally get pressed!

Robin (to Lily and Marshall): Look, I hate most babies, but your baby; I'm going to love that kid so much. I'm going to pick it up and everything.

Robin finds out, pretty late into the series, that she can't have biological children, and it is seen as sad--having a choice taken away from you always is--but not life-destroying. It doesn't make Robin suddenly sure she did want marriage and babies, and it's absolutely not a punishment for her not wanting them. It's shown as one of those things, sad senseless things, that happen and that you have to deal with.

Marshall Eriksen: So Robin, do you have a playbook?
Robin Scherbatsky: [motions at breasts] Two volumes, right here.

Robin has no time for ridiculousness.

Marshall Eriksen: You don't understand love. You're like a robot who asks someone who's crying "Why is your face leaking?"
Robin Scherbatsky: Okay, robot initiating parking-on-the-curb-until-jackass-apologizes sequence. Beeb-bob-boop-beep-booooop!

Robin: You think the only way to be in love is to have pet names, or leave each other stupid little notes or go charging off into a blizzard for no good reason. You know what you are? You’re a love snob! There’s lots of ways to be in a relationship, and you would know that if you ever left your little ‘Love Snob Country Club.’

Robin: Look at me, I've sworn off relationships.
Marshall: She is so about to get married.
Ted: I gotta work on my toast.
Marshall: I gotta make sure my tux fits!
Robin: I will bang your heads together like coconuts.

Ted: Gee, is that ice cream cone big enough?
Robin: Uhhh, it's delicious enough.

Ted: Seriously, where do you see yourself in five years?
Robin: Where do you see yourself?
Ted: Honestly, in five years, I’d probably want to be married.
Robin: And I’d probably want to be in Argentina.
Ted: Argentina?
Robin: Or Tokyo, or Paris. Look Ted, I don’t know where I’m gonna be in five years. I don’t wanna know. I want my life to be an adventure.

'I want my life to be an adventure' may be the best quote in this post.

While Robin is obviously an awesome single lady, I admit I do have a wish for who I want her to end up with: her friend, the womanizing compulsive liar, Barney.

She and Barney did date for a little, but it was so poorly handled that I have deleted it from my brain. However, I think they are a sweet couple and while they both have their issues (Barney has so many. So many. More than Vogue), I think they work well together. There is much smiling and dancing and actually genuine fun times had.

(Convince me the couple have fun and you've got me.)

Barney is frequently disgusting, but at least the show treats him like he is saying terrible stuff constantly when he says terrible stuff constantly, and Robin—as is her way—smacks him down all over the shop.

Barney: It's my apartment and I need to assert my dominance as a man.
Robin: Don't ever say that to any girl, ever!

She nursed him when he was sick, as he feebly protested 'Don't look at me! I'm hideous!' Aw, sickly boys into their appearance. No, I don’t even know what’s wrong with me.

Robin: You know what game I really miss? Battleship. I’ve never lost a game.
Barney: Neither have I. Of course, I cheat.
Robin: Oh yeah, me too.

Look, good partners! And I support their amoral ways. They also enjoy running through museums in formal dress and touching all of the exhibits.

They’re both insecure and both have daddy issues and both act out, but nobody is perfect! Indeed, that is part of what makes couples interesting: healing each other and working through stuff together.

Robin Scherbatsky: No.
Robin Scherbatsky: No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, Barney and I are not together. No. No.
Barney: Really? Sixteen 'no's? Really?

Robin Scherbatsky: You're right. This is a mistake.
Barney Stinson: Yes... No!
Robin Scherbatsky: I love you.
Barney Stinson: Let's be friends.
Robin Scherbatsky: Okay, friends then.
Barney Stinson: I love you.
Robin Scherbatsky: Ah... Let's get married!
Barney Stinson: No! You're smothering me!
Robin Scherbatsky: Okay, forget it!
Barney Stinson: Gaah!
Robin Scherbatsky: Gaah!
Barney Stinson, Robin Scherbatsky: *Kiss*

Barney: Ah-ah. Boyfriend? I don't wanna be Robin's boyfriend.
Lily: Well, what do you want then?
Barney: I don't know... I just wanna be with her... all the time. I wanna hear about her day, tell her about mine... I wanna... hold her hand, smell her hair... but I don't wanna be her stupid boyfriend!

Robin: I'm such a mess. Why do you even like me?
Barney: I guess cause you're almost as messed up as I am.

Robin Scherbatsky: No matter how bad things got, Ted really did love Zoey for a minute there. Didn't he?
Barney Stinson: Yeah... he did. And she loved him, too. Didn't she?
Robin Scherbatsky: Yes, she did.

(Aw, kids! Talking in code.)

What I like most about Robin and Barney together is that Barney obviously adores her and is constantly showering her with support and with compliments.

Barney: Holy crap, you’re beautiful!

Barney: Look at her Ted, she’s the greatest woman on the planet!

Barney: You’re the most awesome person I’ve ever met. Well, second.
Robin: Right, first being you.
Barney: No, actually, it’s this guy I know who lives in something called the mirror. What up?

Robin: Hey. Um, when we were dating, did - did I make you feel needed?
Barney: No, I didn’t feel like you needed me at all.
Robin: [sighs] That’s what I thought. Uh, I’m sorry. [turns to leave]
Barney: Wait, where are you g- that’s a compliment! You’re the least needy woman I’ve ever met. That’s awesome! No guy’s gonna say “Who’s your daddy?” to Robin Scherbatsky; you’re your own daddy. And mommy. And weird survivalist uncle who lives in a cabin with a shotgun blaming stuff on the government. And that is what makes you the most amazing, strong, independent woman I’ve ever banged.

(... while he’s still terrible...)

Barney: When I let a day go by without talking to you, that day’s just no good.

And best of all, Barney is shown as thinking that Robin’s job is important, and as supportive of her career. The rest of her friends pretend to have watched her early morning show, when he says he doesn’t watch it: but he secretly does. And, much more important, he steps up to the plate with support when she needs it.

Barney: I finished your video resumè on my own. Messaged it to every news station in the city. A guy from Channel 6 called: he loved you, he wanted you to come in and audition.
Robin: Oh my God.
Barney: I told him no. Robin Scherbatsky doesn't audition. He gives you the job, or nothing.
Robin: So-so I got the job?
Barney: No, he cursed me out and hung up. But then Channel 12 called! They also loved you, they offered you a job hosting their new morning talk show.
Robin: Barney, that's amazing!
Barney: I told them to shove it.
Robin: Dude!
Barney: It's only made them want you more. So they jacked up their offer by 10%. Congratulations, Miss Scherbatsky.

Robin: Okay. There's a job opening at a new cable network that would be perfect for me. Completely legit world news, interviews with people who matter... ah, but I decided I'm not gonna apply.
Barney: Why not?
Robin: Because I'm a joke. I'm just the scary news lady from some stupid local news channel.
Barney: Hey. We both know you're more than that. Promise me you'll apply.
Robin: Barney, it's not as easy as -
Barney: Promise me you'll apply.
Robin: Okay. I promise.

D’awwwwww. Reporter ladies who rock and boys who adore and support them for the win. Also, comedy!

I admit... I have a favourite fanvid. (Yes, you have correctly assumed from this confession that I have watched more than one.) It is, of course, from Robin's POV.

And of course, a lady reporter with an imaginary man is extremely relevant to my UNSPOKEN interests.

Ted Mosby: You are driving me crazy! No wonder your fake husband moved to Hong Kong!
Robin Scherbatsky: [deadly serious] He moved there for business!

I love you, Robin. Shut up, Ted.


( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
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May. 3rd, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
YES. Hero is terrible. So many shows suffer from this problem. Nearly all are otherwise excellent! Also YES Robin is the greatest. THE GREATEST.

Edited at 2012-05-03 04:15 pm (UTC)
May. 3rd, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
Hero Is Terrible is a REAL PROBLEM. I remember, Roswell.
(no subject) - harborshore - May. 3rd, 2012 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
Ahhhh, I agree with EVERY WORD IN THIS POST (well, I don't hate Ted as much as you do, but he's by far the weakest on the show). Robin is the best. THE BEST! And I adore her and Barney together, except for that awful time that we pretend didn't happen because it didn't make any sense. I want them to have adventures together!

I'm really excited for her in The Avengers. Is she awesome? I bet she's awesome.
May. 3rd, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
She's awesome. She has action moves! I was like 'WHOO, ROBIN!'
(no subject) - sdskuld - May. 3rd, 2012 06:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yes! Ted IS terrible! And is so sad, because Marshall and Robin are basically two of my favorite characters of all time but I just can't watch the show regularly because the rage.

Also, I know you don't allow fanfic links, and I won't even mention what it is, but there is a particular Barney/Robin fanfic which has completely replaced the canon in my mind, so I have completely blanked out their "dating" period on the show and firmly believe they will end up together, and awesome, in the end.
May. 3rd, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
I do not need fanfic, as that is indeed how I see the show. ;)
May. 3rd, 2012 04:36 pm (UTC)
Husband and I were talking about this the other night (how Ted is the worst part of the show, but we love the other characters)! We fast forward anytime Ted is talking and get to the parts with Barney or Robin. Or Marshall and Lily. Though Marshall annoys me sometimes because he goes along with Ted's terrible idea(s).

NPH is awesome. Even when he is being terrible, he is awesome.
May. 3rd, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC)
Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders are both super talented, which helps with being awesome. And of course I have loved Alyson Hannigan since Buffy. ;)
May. 3rd, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh goddddddddddddddddddddd this shooooooooooooooooooow. I hate-love it. It's like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead: when it's good, it's very, very good; but when it's bad, it's horrid. I am also a fervent Robin/Barney shipper, and I also really love Lily and Marshall. I HATE TED. ARGH. He's the worst! I get that the show is nominally "his" story, but I never care about Ted and his marriage/relationship woes. I love his friends though, because one thing I commend HIMYM for doing is getting that "I'm in my 20s in New York City" thing down SO RIGHT. (Well, barring the ridiculous apartments and the astonishing white-ness of the main cast.)

HIT is an awful thing, and it's pretty much the reason I abandoned Mad Men after season 2...
May. 3rd, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
That poem you referenced--"when she was good, she was very very good; when she was bad, she was horrid." That's all I remember about it; do you know who it's by or, like, the rest of it? I didn't even remember she had a curl.
(no subject) - angelan - May. 3rd, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jessikast - May. 3rd, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bredalot - May. 3rd, 2012 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - madhatterpan - May. 4th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
Oh my God, finally someone who agrees with me on the awesomeness that is Robin Scherbatsky! :)
(And the terribleness that is Ted. Ack, I have never in my life yelled so much at just one fictional character on TV.)
I have to admit, if it weren't for Robin, I would just stop watching the show at all. But sometime she also says terrible, terrible things (I blame the screenwriters for this evil). Then I have to switch off the TV and weep softly, for my favourite is temporarily RUINED. Only once I have erased the terribleness from my brain can I go back to watching (sometimes this takes weeks).

May. 3rd, 2012 04:51 pm (UTC)
Agreed--the hero is just no good. He's just kind of annoying and terrible, but not in the same way Barney is terrible. I do love Robin.
May. 3rd, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
oh god I love this fanvideo I am going to watch it like 6 times, Sarah Rees Brennan you are the worst influence - you write some pretty amazing books, though, so there's that. o_o
May. 3rd, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
I'm not the first one, but I feel the need to say that I second everything you said in this post. I never took the time to blog about this, but now I don't need to, I'll just direct my friends to your post.
May. 3rd, 2012 06:02 pm (UTC)
If I actually had any interest in eating sushi, **I** would be eating it at the all-you-can-eat sushi place in Bismarck.
May. 3rd, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen the show, but she is absolutely awesome in the Avengers! I LOVE that she is so competent and loyal, and oh yes, by the by, a woman. Important, but not the reason. Great post.
May. 3rd, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
Aw man I love Ted. Actually I love all the characters on HIMYM. Even the Captain and Wendy the waitress and in general almost everyone except Nora I guess. I didn't really like her.
I just think the writers make mistakes with these characters. Like Barney talking about how he "sold a woman". Joke gone too far right there. I just like to blame it on the writers when out of character things happen. And the current storyline with his girlfriend. No just no.

To be honest I didn't even like the idea of Barney and Robin until they got together. And then it was almost over. Which was disappointing. I always loved them as bros though. I love Zip Zip Zip.

I just think HIMYM really got so bad after season four. I think the seasons rapidly got worse after that season. But I've seen season 1-4 a million times.

But yes even though I am nothing like Robin (except I don't like babies either and the milk cereal thing) I love her. I loved the quotes you used. The cereal/milk debate is one of my favourite things because Robin is very me there.
Annie Schwarz
May. 3rd, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
I HATED the way the show ended Robin and Barney's relationship. Everything is fine and then the show wanted a different story, so it made them both ugly? Not ok. I secretly hope they end up together (note, I am a season behind).

I also have issues with how the show treats Robin and Lily's careers. They are both made out to be jokes, while the men folk have real jobs (which, to be fair, are also jokes, but well-playing, 'smart' jobs).
May. 7th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
Oh my gosh, I totally forgot that that happened to Robin and Barney! I was OK with them breaking up, even though they seem great for each other, but until I read your comment I couldn't remember why they did. I guess I blocked it out of my memory, too.

I disagree a bit about how the show presents Robin's career vs. Ted's, for example, or even Barney's. Ted and Robin both really want to get ahead in something serious that they have a passion for, journalism and architecture. They're both just stuck in the beginning stages of those careers, like a lot of ambitious people who want to "make it" in a big city. Ted's self-owned architecture firm was a joke; Robin's stuck covering ridiculous fluff stories until her big break. Both of them seemed to have climbed out of their career pits and are on their way to being well-known in their fields. And Barney's job is one big joke about the corruption and/or sinisterness of the banking industry. Lily's the one I have a little issue with (you can't just leave your kids in the middle of a class! Teachers are really important!).
May. 3rd, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
Robin is awesome. This post is awesome. My brain is full of awesomesauce.
(Deleted comment)
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