It was just over a year ago when How I Met Your Mother pulled what I consider its most offensive move to date: the Barney-Patrice gambit that ultimately hooked Robin into realizing her feelings for the duplicitous suitor. It was in this experiment, one that advertised the impossibility of a fit central character drumming up feelings for a full bodied woman, that the CBS sitcom showed off a peak in immaturity — a long-gestating immaturity that had taken form in the hearts of Barney, Robin, and, most of all, our hero Ted.
Ted's vantage point has always celebrated a very specific idea of romantic love. The kind that you'd find in a decade-long Meg Ryan movie. In universe, Ted has endured some treacherous punishment for his pursuit of this singular manifestation of love — not even in pursuit of a return of that love, but of the love itself. Ted needs to love the way he understands love to take form. The restrictive, illogical, selfish, immature way that he (and, let's be honest, we) defines this all-consuming phenomenon. And although it's more enchanting to view love this way, it isn't fair.
It isn't fair to the people we love — to Robin, in Ted's case — or to the people doing the loving. To dismiss your feelings is deemed cynical by films and television shows like How I Met Your Mother. To get over someone after years of desperate, agonizing passion would render these years illegitimate. There is only one kind of love, the show has affirmed, and it doesn't change.
A third party to whom this mentality isn't fair: everyone else. Everyone who hasn't been loved like this, or who hasn't felt this specific kind of love. Anyone who didn't meet his or her soul mate on the first day of college (Marshall and Lily), who wasn't saved from a lifetime of destructive behavior by the only person "as messed up" as him (Barney), or who didn't spend nine years stealing blue French horns, setting up elaborate Christmas decorations, retrieving lockets, and destroying himself over the one (Ted). To everyone who hasn't experienced this kind of love and who has been made to feel like he or she is not experiencing real life because of it, this whole maxim isn't fair. And it's more or less a lie, too.
But for 199 straight episodes, How I Met Your Mother seemed bent on upholding the idea of love that it inherited from everything in between Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally, laying waste to the toxicity it instills in the lover and the lovee, a party reduced to an idealized end-goal who is robbed of her own industries, passions, and feelings of organic love as they are devalued as little more than roadblocks in this sprawling romantic quest (Robin). In universe, Ted was punished for his journeys, but we all knew that How I Met Your Mother was rewarding him for his "uniquely pure heart" by repeatedly crowning him a tragic hero. And to all those who've endured Ted's path before, the tragic hero title is a nice compensation prize, ain't it? Just enough to keep you going, to keep you adhered to the journey.
And then came the big 2-0-0, last week's episode, when we were treated to the backstory of the still nameless Mother. The episode, titled "How Your Mother Met Me," gave us the first big surprise of the season: Ted would not be her first love. Years before taking up with Mr. Mosby, The Mother was deeply and devotedly involved with another, Max, whose untimely death was the only cause for their relationship's end. No, he wasn't proven to be "not quite the one" (although a subsequent pre-Ted beau would). This Max, for all we know, would have made The Mother the happiest woman on Earth. But we were surprised to hear our old, traditionally immature friend How I Met Your Mother assure us that this doesn't mean Ted can't do the same. For the first time in its nine year span, the show admitted that there might not only be one kind of love.
A week later and our surprise is doubled. We find Ted on Central Park's Bow Bridge (the most romantic place in New York City, you know), begging his nutty ex Jeanette (Abby Elliott) to return the locket that he has been dying — really, killing himself! Contacting old girlfriends like Stella and Victoria and flying across country just to figure out where he stored the thing — to retrieve as Robin's wedding gift. In a rare moment of earnestness, the kooky Jeanette challenges Ted's judgment, insisting that he needs to get over Robin and that he's better off without the locket. But Ted disagrees. He can't stomach the idea of getting over Robin, as it would mean that his years of devotion to her meant nothing. And, as said love is what he used to define himself altogether, it would mean that he meant nothing. And for the first time, after so many romantic diatribes in which Ted has spelled out his aching, ceaseless, unwavering obsession with his own love, we see How I Met Your Mother take a different stance.
"I'm in love with her. If you're looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you, it's love," Ted cries. "And when you love someone, you don't stop. Ever. Even when people roll their eyes or call you crazy. Even then. Especially then. You just — you don't give up. Because if I could give up, if I could just take the who world's advice and move on and find someone else, THAT WOULDN'T BE LOVE. That would be some other disposable thing that is not worth fighting for." And then, Ted manages one desperate, "That is not what this is," almost too worn out to convince Abby or himself.
For the first time, the show seems to understand that this isn't right. That this isn't how someone should feel about love. That it shouldn't be something that destroys you, or that you adhere to obsessively in an effort to become what you wish you were. And that if this is the sort of "love" you are experiencing, then you might be better off tossing your locket into The Ramble and Lake... which, of course, is what Jeanette does next. An act of malice on her part, but one that sets him free.
And so, we flash forward to the wedding weekend, with Ted sitting beside Robin on the beach as the sun comes up, waiting for Barney to stumble back from his drunken night of tutoring two young schmoes in the art of wooing women (the passing of the torch, you could call it), finally deciding that everything in his cold, concrete definition of love needed to change. And so, he decides to let her go. Forever. And more importantly, to let go of his belief that his love for Robin is not just the only thing worth fighting for, but worth living for. Because love doesn't have to be defined by Casablanca or When Harry Met Sally or Marshall and Lily. Some people find it in Paris, some people in road trips, some people in college hallways, some people in New York City pubs, some people on dating websites, some people through set-ups, and the list goes on. Some people find it once, some people find it over and over. It's different for every one who experiences it — any two cases are incomparable. Every case has its own, unique, honest story. And after trying to capitalize on everything he thought it should be for so many years, the fellow telling his story via Bob Saget voiceover to the two kids on his living room couch is finally ready to begin it.
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There’s absolutely nothing wrong with preferring to not get married and just stay in a committed relationship with your partner instead, which is what many people in Hollywood choose to do. It’s one thing to just be dating, though, and a whole other thing to get engaged, which implies that you will be marrying. Some celebs seem to like the title of “fiance” more than turning it into “spouse,” and would rather be engaged for years than actually tie the knot.
Lebron James of the Miami Heat recently married his high school sweetheart, Savannah Brinson, after a 2 year long engagement (and a relationship since high school), and John Legend finally married girlfriend of 4 years and fiancé of 3 years, Chrissy Teigen, on the same day as James and Brinson, no less. Though they finally got hitched, there are still some celebs who aren’t yet ready to put a wedding ring on it.
Jessica Simpson & Eric Johnson Jessica Simpson has been engaged to retired NFL-er Eric Johnson since 2010 and they already have 2 kids together, Maxwell Drew and Ace Knute Johnson. To be fair to Simpson, though, it is difficult to try on dresses and plan out weddings when you've been pregnant and/or popping out kids for most of the relationship.
Taran Killam & Cobie Smulders Cobie Smulders and Taran Killam are actually married now, but they still took their sweet time doing it. Engaged in 2009, the pair waited for 3 years (and the birth of their daughter) to finally tie the knot.
Kate Hudson & Matthew Bellamy Like her parents, Kate Hudson is living the non-married life with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy. Unlike her parents, though, Hudson has been engaged since 2011. There’s been no date set for their wedding as of yet, but we hope these crazy kids can make it last.
Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been together for 8 years. Though they initially claimed that they wouldn’t get married until gay people were allowed to marry too, the couple announced their engagement in 2012. Considering it took them 7 years to even get engaged, it’ll probably be another 7 for the actual wedding. Don’t hold your breath, peeps!
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My only regret about seeing Safe Haven wasn't just seeing it in the first place, but that I didn't take a big group of friends to experience this utter madness with me. When it was over all I wanted to do was discuss those enormous and plentiful plot holes, the outdated settings (seriously, did no one in Southport own a cell phone?), and that totally banana pants crazy twist ending. But, now that some of you have witnessed this piece of cinematic lunacy for yourselves over this Valentine's weekend, I can talk about it you guys. That said, if you haven't seen Safe Haven yet and would like to remain unspoiled, leave now as there are MASSIVE, CRAZY SPOILERS AHEAD.
RELATED: 'Safe Haven' Review
If you are still reading that means one thing, you saw Safe Haven and are still trying to wrap your mind the ending in which Katie/Erin (Julianne Hough) discovers that her friendly neighbor Jo (Cobie Smulders) turned out to be a... g-g-g-g-ghost! Not just any ghost though, the ghost of her boyfriend Alex's (Josh Duhamel) deceased wife and mother of his children Lexi and Josh. I'd call this a record-scratching moment, but I'm not sure record players have even made it to Southport yet, so maybe a phonograph-interrupting moment.
Now, here's why this is so creepy and ridiculous for a bevy of reasons. First, let's look back at how Jo and Katie (I'm dropping the Erin, as we know her as Katie for most of the flick) met. Jo is on the porch of Katie's dilapidated house, peering in through the window, which is completely stupid in and of itself. Isn't one of the main advantages of being a ghost is that you can just kind of go in places the still living can't, like the mall after closing hours? I gather Jo was just doing recon at this point: who was this mysterious blonde girl making eyes at my husband? Can she be trusted around my precocious youngsters?
Now, the answer to that immediately should have been no, as Katie is someone who literally arrives in town with a duffel bag and nothing else and whose idea of a home repair to fix a giant hole in her floor was to paint over it. (Wha?) But Jo seemed to like something about Katie and started to nudge her to be with her widowed husband when he started to do grand, romantic gestures for her like...drop of a bike in her driveway in the middle of the night. (Whaaa?)
Okay, fine, so Jo just wanted Alex to find love again and for her kids to have a mother figure, fair enough. But does that mean Jo, WHO ONLY KATIE COULD SEE (more on that in a bit), used her ghostly powers to get Katie to not get back on the bus and stay in Southport when she escaped from home (more on that in a bit, too)? After all, Jo revealed herself to have some ghostly powers throughout, even if we weren't aware that was it at the time.
For instance, when Katie's abusive, alcoholic husband Kevin (David Lyons) tracks her down and spots her gallivanting around town with Alex, Jo appears out of nowhere like a damn ghost to warn her that "he's here." Wait, how the hell did she know what Kevin looked like? Better yet, Katie never explicitly told Jo about her past with Kevin, so how did she know who he was and that he was trouble? Now, Katie did open up to Alex about her abuse from Kevin as they laid in bed together one night. So does that mean Jo was just hanging around for that conversation and put the pieces together? If so, creepy. Way creepy.
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But that wasn't even my biggest issue with the story line of Jo, the friendly, if not romance meddling ghost. When Katie was falling in love with Alex, how did she never bring up her only friend in town to him? Wouldn'tshe, at some point, have told Alex that she and her friend Jo went for a long walk in the afternoon? I think the conversation probably would have gone a little something like this:
Katie: "I hung out with my friend Jo today. We only hang out at my house, she is my neighbor, though I've never actually seen her place."
Alex: "Jo? Oh my gosh, that's my dead wife's name. The one who died from cancer, remember?"
Katie: "Oh my gosh, that's so strange. Anyway, Jo kept talking in ominous, blanket statements like 'The nice thing about life is you get second chances.'"
Alex: "Okay, that's really weird. Just out of curiosity, what does she look like?"
Katie: "Well, she's brunette and very beautiful. You ever watch How I Met Your Mother? Wait, who am I kidding, no one in this stupid quaint and sleepy town owns a television. Anyway, she looks like the one who plays Robin."
Alex, takes out a picture of his dead wife Jo: "You mean...she looks like her?"
Katie: "Um, holy s**t, that is her!"
Alex: "Holy s**t."
Holy s**t. Also, never mind the fact that Katie and Jo went on a ton of walks through town, meaning Katie was more or less talking to herself and that didn't seem to alarm the townsfolk at all. "You wanna get a coffee? No?" or "How come you haven't left town for so long?" Oh right, because you're a ghost. Why couldn't Alex or his children see their beloved Jo, but Katie could? She definitely has a sixth sense, yes?
NEXT: More WTF moments from Safe Haven
And, sure, the spirit of the dead wife plot twist is completely insane and utterly terrifying in and of itself (when Katie put two and two together, how did she not freak out? Wouldn't she have to tell Alex at some point she'd been communicating with his dead wife?) but that was hardly the only plot hole or ridiculous scene in the movie. After all, this is a Nicholas Sparks story, so the absurdity is plentiful. Here are some other WTF moments from Safe Haven to ponder:
- When we still think that Katie has murdered her husband and is on the run and that Kevin is just a cop determined to track down this killer and bring justice, he relentlessly questions Katie's neighbors regarding her whereabouts. He introduces himself as a cop and asks a kindly elderly woman if she recognizes Katie, which would make sense if he also wasn't their neighbor and he wouldn't be talking about Katie to them like she was a total stranger. He wouldn't have to piece together the clues that the neighbor actually definitely knows who Katie is, because that's his neighbor, too. They all totally know each other. All that said, you have to appreciate any movie where cherries are the smoking gun (wait...the neighbor has a cherry tree...and my wife made cherry pie...got it!) even if it makes absolutely no sense.
- When Katie is making her great escape, she bumps into a stranger at a busy Boston bus depot. Not only does the man recognize her face when he's shown a picture by Kevin (honestly, who the hell can remember one of many faces they see in day-to-day city life), but the stranger also suggests she had blonde hair. If that was the case, that he bumped into a pretty blond girl, how would he recognize this other pretty brunette girl? Ah yes, because he is a Convenient Plot Device.
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- Katie, despite completely changing her identity and presumably not wanting to leave a paper trail, somehow buys a house. Which name did she use on the deed? Wouldn't a Google search have come up that Erin, her real name, now resided at this crappy house in Southport? Better yet, how in the world did she buy it after, like, three shifts at her waitressing job?
- When Alex and Katie have a romantic dinner the entire waitstaff seems to disappear, where did they go? Wouldn't they have locked up? The music is still playing, so someone still must be there? Why didn't this totally freak Alex and Katie out? Did they dine and ditch when their ride showed up? Jerks.
- Okay, fine, Alex wasn't thrilled about the idea of Katie being around his kids when he just thought she was a murderer and then definitely let it slide when she became an actual murderer, but how does he explain the whole name switcheroo to his kids? Will they continue to call her Katie? Or will she go back to being Erin and they all just sidestep that whole murder thing? I mean she is cute and the kids like her so much, so...
Like I said, this movie is a totally bonkers ghost visitor/murder mystery tale that is somehow masquerading as a sappy romantic drama. What did you think of the ending and the numerous plot holes in Safe Haven? Share in the comments section below.
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We've seen The Hulk. We've seen Iron Man. We've seen Captain America and Thor. But where are all the women in Marvel's epic superhero team-up The Avengers?
For those who've seen plenty of Scarlett Johansson running around with the colorful crew of Earth defenders, there's another lady to throw into the mix: How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria HIll. #2 to Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, Hill should see her fair share of action…or, at the least, she'll be commanding The Avengers from a nearby high tech base. Either way, it's nice to see the other gender being represented in this machismo-driven movie.
We caught a glimpse of her in the newest trailer, but take your first look of Smulders in The Avengers - think she can play ball with the rest of the group?