Hey look, I can respond to Gorky exactly one month after she responded to me! That was TOTALLY intentional and not at all a result of my forgetting about this thread and then avoiding posting because I felt bad about forgetting about it!
Oh, I just took your silence as a concession to my awesome (read: not awesome at all) argument.
It's not that they are unable to commit themselves to a relationship, but that they do not invest themselves in relationships as quickly as (here's the easy example) Ted. Ted (using Marshall's standards) considers a relatively serious relationship to be reached at third base (with an exception to one-night stands). Barney and Robin went beyond this point consistently and many times over without considering themselves to be in a relationship, and even after becoming official boyfriend and girlfriend, they took a while to adjust, and then to progress further in their relationship.
This is a good point. I will say that I wouldn't have minded the Barney/Robin thing if it had remained casual and not necessarily monogamous--I guess because I never really thought they could last in the long-term, and a friends-with-benefits kind of arrangement would've suited their personalities quite nicely.
Here's the main reason a long-term Robin/Barney pairing was so absurd to me: I never got the sense that Robin loved Barney. Her feelings for him just sort of appeared
at the end of season four; we didn't get any insight into them beforehand--it's not like she was pining for him post-"Sandcastles in the Sand," and there was no jealousy-over-his-other-flings thing like Robin had going for Ted in season one. It seemed like the writers just wanted her to be in love with Barney because they had gone to such lengths to show us how Barney was in love with her; Robin was like this prize that Barney won for maturing so much in season four.
Don't get me wrong: I loved his arc in season four; the pining-for-Robin thing really deepened his character and made him far more sympathetic and human
than he'd previously been. But that character growth would have remained if Robin had rejected Barney, or if their break-up in season five had permanently ended their romantic relationship; afterwards, Barney could've just moved on to the far better-matched Quinn (or, if you'd prefer, Nora; I liked both of 'em well enough), and Robin could've settled down with Kevin.
I mean, a Robin/Kevin pairing probably wouldn't have lasted long-term, either, because of Robin's jet-setting ways--which then would have freed her up to be with Ted in the finale, if that's what the writers wanted. I also think the writers would have been more inclined to allow Robin to sort of still have feelings for Ted if she was married to Kevin--which would have been unconscionable while she was with Barney, because Barney was The Writer's Favorite and Awesome and Legendary and whatever the hell else. I kind of think that's why Robin just magically stopped being interested in Ted from season seven on, whereas you could still sort of buy her being into him from seasons three to six: it would have complicated the already-complicated love triangle--and, more importantly, it would've hurt poor Barney's feelings. It also would have made the series finale make a hell of a lot more emotional sense, but no matter.
I can see how they do, indeed, want different things. But I do think that Barney would have been satisfied with a life without kids, even if he would have been happier with them.
I'll give you that one.
I guess you have convinced me to no longer be in favor of Barney and Robin as a couple, for as I try to think of a way to defend them, nothing worthwhile comes to mind (in fact, everything that does come to mind works against my original point).
Oh, I didn't mean to ruin them as a couple for you or anything; you're certainly entitled to your opinion. I do think Robin and Barney had a nice sexual chemistry on-screen, and the scenes where they're just hanging out as bros are also great; their scenes together are oftentimes just fun to watch.
But I don't think they had the same sort of...I don't know what you'd call it--emotional chemistry?--that Ted and Robin had. I always felt that, despite their differences of opinion on kids and marriage, Robin and Ted had a deep friendship that parlayed nicely into romance. Perhaps they were not as sexually compatible as Robin was with Barney, but I'm the sort of mushy-gushy female who prefers that emotional connection to a purely physical or otherwise superficial one.
My main dissatisfaction with the series ending was simply the fact that Ted's relationship with Tracy was not developed whatsoever, when all of his others were: Victoria and the cupcakes, Robin and the blue French horn, Zoey and the Arcadian...sure, we saw a few great moments with Tracy, but I don't think any of those could really compare to the romance we saw earlier, with different girls.
This is fair: Ted's relationship with Tracy was seriously underdeveloped. But as far as the lack of Big Gestures goes, I think the show was trying to make a point about how, when you meet the right person, you don't need all those over-the-top romantic shenanigans. I mean, Lily and Marshall are the show's Gold Standard for Romance, and the writers always tended to emphasize the small
but hugely important things they did for each other: telling each other everything (even silly things, like what they ate for lunch), supporting each other, making sacrifices for each other. The wonderful thing about Lily and Marhsall's relationship is how much they simply enjoy being together, how comfortable they are with each other and the life they share.
And I think we saw that same sense of joy and comfort in every last scene between Ted and Tracy--which was certainly facilitated by the ridiculous amounts of chemistry the two actors had. Ted and Tracy seemed to relish every second they spent together, they had a shared sense of humor, they had similar values. They loved
each other. So I guess it doesn't bother me that we didn't see Ted stealing her a blue French horn or taking her on a two-minute date or risking his career for her: the whole point of their relationship is that it didn't need to be flashy because it had a true depth of feeling to it.
And that depth of feeling shone through every scene they had together. Honestly, I think something as simple as that scene where Ted and Tracy are back at the Farhampton Inn a year after the wedding is as wonderful--as romantic, as magical--as something like Ted making it rain for Robin. It's a different kind of romantic, but in its own way it's just as beautiful.