Comparing The Dramatic Payoffs of Two TV Shows That Don’t Belong In The Same Sentence

ted mosby vs walter white 1

SPOILER ALERT!

(Though I doubt there’s anybody out there who plans to watch Breaking Bad and hasn’t caught up yet. That would just be stupid.)

This could be the most unnecessary commentary in the history of the written word.

When the epic confrontation in the garage happened on Breaking Bad this past Sunday, I was so pissed. Not because I was unhappy with what I was seeing, but because it immediately made me think of a significantly inferior show, How I Met Your Mother.

Let me explain.

When Breaking Bad took less than one full episode to go from Hank’s realization regarding Walter White as Heisenberg to the two men coming face-to-face in an incredible showdown, it was one of the most surprising decisions in the history of television for multiple reasons. Think about how many shows, both past and present, would string the audience along for a handful of episodes (or perhaps an entire season) before finally allowing that one-on-one sniff-out in Hank’s garage to happen.

We’re talking about a show with the highest of high stakes—a meth kingpin who happens to be dying from cancer, a man who has killed countless people and destroyed even more lives, a man on the verge of being found out by his DEA Agent brother-in-law—and they gave us the biggest payoff in the history of the show less than one episode after they put the setup in place.

About three months ago I informed my girlfriend that I would not be watching the ninth and (thank god) final season of How I Met Your Mother this fall. There’s really nothing redeeming about it at this point, and it’s been that way for a while. I was holding on because, hey, we needed to find out who this mother was. The person the entire show was building up to for 184 episodes. And when they finally revealed her for all of six seconds last May, no one gave a shit because she was a brand new character that had no effect on the main character’s life up to that point.

So to recap, a show with the highest stakes possible took less than one episode to go from setup to payoff on the biggest confrontation in its history.

And a show about a whiny douche living in New York whose only problem is not being able to find his fairy tale love-at-first-sight future wife has taken eight years to go from setup to payoff, and it was the least impactful reveal in TV history.

Hey it could be worse. You could invest five years in Lost and end up getting no legitimate answers from the creators after wasting those 100+ hours of your life.

(I could write about 25,000 words criticizing How I Met Your Mother, like how the main character is the worst of the five regular actors on the show, and how he must be so bad that they completely stopped creating major story lines for him years ago, and how it’s morphed into a story about Barney and Robin, and how they forget to have any storylines revolving around Ted’s love life (presumably what the entire show is supposed to hinge on) for handfuls of episodes at a time. Awful, awful show. But that’s another blog for another day.)

I just wanted to put this in writing so the five people still watching HIMYM could maybe understand why the rest of us quit on this show a while ago. Nobody can pretend to care about Ted Mosby’s search because no one gives a shit if he succeeds or not. I think it’s insane for a dopey sitcom to treat its future revelations the same way dramas with life-or-death stakes do.

I know it’s pretty ridiculous to even compare these two shows. It would be like someone watching the Little League World Series and complaining that those pitchers don’t throw nearly as hard or precise as Matt Harvey, Felix Hernandez and the rest of the major league pitchers. But the contrast in the way the shows decided to deal with their “big reveals” was just striking to me.

And finally, if you’re someone who has watched both Breaking Bad and HIMYM in the past, there’s this legitimately funny seven seconds on YouTube:

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