TIME Television

Cristin Milioti on How I Met Your Mother’s Ending: ‘There’s No Way to Please Everybody’

Cristin Milioti
Cristin Milioti Richard Shotwell—Invision/AP

The A to Z star talks Tinder, her worst date ever and the nipple episode of Mad Men

Proving that television really is becoming the go-to place for romantic comedies, NBC’s new sitcom A to Z tells the complete story of Andrew and Zelda, who date for eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour. Mad Men’s Ben Feldman plays Andrew, the eager romantic; Cristin Milioti, otherwise known as How I Met Your Mother‘s titular mom (or sexy-baby-voice girl from 30 Rock), plays Zelda, who’s more eager to put the brakes on their relationship’s whirlwind beginning.

TIME caught up with Milioti to talk about the show (premiering Oct. 2), online dating and why you should still make mixtapes for your crush.

TIME: How does the show keep viewers on their toes when we know that the main characters break up?

Cristin Milioti: Gosh, it’s interesting, because your guess is as good as mine. They won’t tell us how it ends. Which I actually really like, because that means we don’t know how to play anything other than what the episode is. We’re not playing toward an ending. Ben and I differ in what are opinions are. I think they’re going to break up, he thinks they’re going to get married.

I was going to guess that there would be some bait-and-switch or reset that allows the premise to keep going.

Right? I thought that too. They have to go through the friendship of it, and we start the alphabet all over again. I’m not sure, to be honest with you. I think what the show does beautifully, as I’ve been working on it, is examine what it’s like to let someone into your life when you’re falling in love, which is the most incredible feeling in the world. But also terrifying.

You mentioned the alphabet — are there 26 episodes for each letter?

I think it would be 22, but I think they would combine some of the letters. I only say this because I heard [creator] Ben Queen say this at the TCAs. “LMNO” is — God, I sound like a grandma — texting code for “laughing my nuts off.” Those are his words.

Well, you learn something new everyday!

I always thought it was LMAO, which is “laughing my ass off.” That’s the one that I know. And obviously good old standard LOL.

I’m partial to ROFL.

I’ve seen that one too!

It’s almost onomatopoeic — that’s what I imagine rolling on the floor laughing sounds like.

Rofl-rofl-rofl. Yeah!

So this is the second show you’ve been on where the ending is somewhat known and what happens in the middle is the real meat of the story.

It’s interesting because I never thought that, not even for a second. And then we were doing the TCAs and people started asking questions like that. “Do you think it’s a coincidence that you’re doing a show that’s so much like How I Met Your Mother?”

But, other than that aspect, I don’t really think of them as that similar?

Yeah, but we do deal with a similar theme of whether or not destiny exists.

Do you believe it does?

I gotta tell you, I do for the most part. And then sometimes … I’m still trying to figure that out. Every now and then I’m like, are we the ones that need to take action and then destiny doesn’t exist? Do you create your own destiny? But then, if you create your own destiny, destiny already exists! And you just didn’t even know.

So you differ from your character in that way.

Ben Feldman and I sort of are each other’s characters in real life. I’m Andrew, he’s Zelda. He’s far more pragmatic. I think I believe more in love at first sight than he does.

Andrew works at an online dating company. Have you ever tried that?

No, I’ve never tried it. I’m not on any social media. I know people who have met on Twitter and through Facebook. I had a friend, someone liked her photos on Instagram and they started direct messaging each other and went out on a date! That’s so foreign to me. Whatever floats your boat. If it works for you and that’s how you find love, that’s wonderful. On the other hand, there’s nothing like meeting a person and knowing there’s that sparkly chemistry. But I guess you know that when you go out on that date after your profiles get Tindered.

Have you played around on someone else’s Tinder?

Last summer a friend of a friend gave me his phone and said, “Want to flip through and do my Tinder?” I had this crazy power rush. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m deciding who you’re going to go on a date with!” But I also felt terrible clicking no.

Destiny’s in your hands.

Yes, exactly! My my, how the tables have turned.

What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?

I went on a date with someone that I had not been seeing for very long — I’ve pulled a real Andrew here — but I was very sure: “I have feelings for this person and I’m going to tell them tonight.” We went out to dinner and had a couple glasses of wine, and I was finally like, “I just have to tell you, I really, really like you and have all these feelings and just needed to get that off my chest.” He just stared at me and was like “Oh, okay, I’m sorry, I don’t feel the same way.” We had just finished dinner!

And you just had to sit there until it was over?

Yes! It was a nightmare.

Okay, happier thoughts: what is your ideal date?

It would probably involve the beach and eating.

Very good choices.

Or like something wild that I’ve never done before like being driven to a lookout and being able to see the city. I feel like I could come up with a better one.

I don’t know. Eating at the beach is hard to top.

That’s all you need!

Going back to How I Met Your Mother for a second, were you surprised about the backlash regarding the ending?

Oh no, I wasn’t surprised. That show — which speaks to the quality of that show — always had such a passionate fanbase. I remember talking with one of our props guys about what the reaction was going to be, because some people all along had rooted for Ted and Robin, even when she was going to get married. There’s no way to please everybody. There’s no way to please 10 million people, unless you take them to the beach and give them food.

Do you watch Mad Men? Because Ben’s character went a little crazy this season.

We were just talking about this yesterday. I’ve never seen Mad Men. I want to do it leisurely and really soak it in, but I don’t have time to get to season five [when Feldman's character is introduced]. I just want him to send me his scenes, but he won’t do it.

Do you know what happens?

I do, because we did the upfronts the day after he cut his nipple off.

Oh my God.

We were in the press line together, and all the questions were like, “Cristin, how do you feel about dying?” “Ben, how do you feel about cutting your nipple off?” It was a really dark press line.

My first thought after watching that scene was thankfully A to Z isn’t on until October — we have some time before we have to think of him in a rom-com way.

Yeah, and he does it with aplomb. I really, really want to see Mad Men. I’ve YouTubed — he doesn’t even know this — I’ve YouTubed parts of his performance when he was first being brought in for the role of Andrew. I loved it. I loved what he was doing, and I want to see more of it, but he was like, “It’s important that you know what’s going on.” I basically asked him for his reel.

In addition to acting, you’re also musical: you’ve been nominated for a Tony and the Once soundtrack won a Grammy. Are you going to go for EGOT status?

Haha, geez, I don’t know — I’ll try, I guess? I’m in complete disbelief of what has happened to me. And the Grammy thing, it seems like I just went to a store and asked them to make me a Grammy. It’s so unbelievable to have that thing in my house. It just looks like when you’re little and you’re playing and you get an Oscar that says “Best mom.” That’s what it feels like. I still can’t believe that.

Speaking of music, will Andrew and Zelda swap mixtapes this season?

No, but they should!

Maybe as like a DVD extra you can include them.

Yeah. Do people still do that? People should do that.

I would, but I feel like people catch on too quickly now — they know what’s up when you give them a mix CD.

But hasn’t it gone retro yet now? Maybe not. I don’t think mixtapes will ever go out of style.

You need to speak out and make them cool again.

This is a public statement: I’m in favor of mixtapes.

A version of this story appears in the Oct. 6 issue of TIME, on stands this Friday.

TIME relationships

This Video Perfectly Describes How People Feel About Online Dating

To lie or not to lie?

Just because you’ve found a great relationship through online dating doesn’t mean you’re comfortable with admitting how you met. This video (which is actually made by underwear company Me Undies, so go figure) perfectly nails the embarrassment surrounding online dating, even if you’ve met someone great.

And even if you did meet online, do you tell your friends and family the real story of how you met? Or do you make up a “meet cute” story that resembles something out of an ’80s romantic comedy? Watch this underwear-clad couple duke it out over whether they should be embarrassed that they met online:

TIME Dating

OkCupid Relaunches OkTrends: A Beloved Blog That Tracks Online Daters’ Fascinating Habits

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OkCupid relaunched OkTrends after 3 years off Getty Images

After a three-year hiatus

In 2009, OkCupid gave the people of the Internet a beautiful gift. No, not eternal love. A peek into the its massive treasure trove of user data — exposing everything from strange overshares (How much do Twitter users masturbate?) to serious issues (How does race impact the messages you receive?).

The observations and statistics were catalogued in the blog OkTrends, written by OKC co-founder Christian Rudder, which started accumulating some 1 million unique views per post. But in April 2011, the web favorite went dormant, leaving its fans questioning, what’s REAL “stuff white people like” today?

Until now. Monday marked the relaunch of OkTrends.

“We always said we were going to relaunch the blog,” Rudder says. “I put it on pause because I was working on a book… but with that being finished and about to come out, it was time to restart.”

All hail.

Since the OkTrends lull occurred two months after Match.com bought OkCupid, Rudder says some people floated conspiracy theories that Match shut it down. “They absolutely did not,” he says. “In fact they were sad we had to take time off from it.”

But with his book Dataclysm: Who We Are set for a September release, Rudder says he’s back and ready to write a new OkTrends post once every four weeks.

This month’s post proudly declared “We Experiment on Human Beings!” — appropriate given the collective freakout over Facebook’s June emotional manipulation study — and chronicles times the dating network used its users as guinea pigs. For example, OkCupid once told people with a 30% compatibility rating that they were a 90% match, just to see what happened.

Even though Rudder says OkCupid only gets an estimated 1,000 people to sign up after a post goes live, “the effect is more simmering than that.”

For example, if a woman reads an OkTrend piece when she’s in a relationship, she might remember a particularly insightful post several months later when she’s single again and sign up for the service.

“It was more of a long game for us,” Rudder says. “It’s like a billboard in Times Square for Coke. I don’t think people walk past it and are like, ‘I’ve gotta go get a Coke right now.’ It just puts it in their mind and then, when they’re thirsty, they go get a Coke.”

 

TIME relationships

For Just $5,000, Match.com Will Find You a Date Who Looks Just Like Your Ex

Courtesy Three Day Rule

Match.com is teaming up with a matchmaking startup that uses facial recognition to help you meet someone new -- sort of

If you think you can never move on from the love of your life — who recently informed you that the feeling is anything but mutual — signing up for an online dating service is probably the last thing on your mind. The parade of weirdos and just plain ugly people is enough to get you to swear off dating forever. All you want is your ex back, and nothing else will do.

So here’s a thought: what if you could date someone who looks just like your ex? That’s the idea behind a new “white-glove” dating service offered by Three Day Rule in conjunction with Match.com. For a mere $5000, you can send in photos of your ex, which Three Day Rule will use to help you find a more suitable suitor. Starting June 25, Match.com will send an email to targeted Match users inviting them to try the new approach. Initially emails will only go out to users in cities where Three Day Rule currently operates, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, but the offer will be extended as Three Day Rule expands to other cities.

“If you like one facial structure, you will probably like someone with a similar facial structure,” explains Three Day Rule founder Talia Goldstein, who notes that women are just as visually-oriented as men these days. Her high-end service doesn’t stop at scanning for lookalikes either: coaches will interview you in person and even go on pre-dates with potential matches to help weed out the bozos.

But here’s another thought: if the only way you can stomach online dating is by trying to find someone just like your ex, maybe what you really need is a time out instead. “Sometimes you need a little bit of time in between rather than jumping right back in,” says online dating coach Julie Spira. Once you do, consider dating against your type. “I’m always encouraging [daters] to jump out of their comfort zone,” says Spira. After all, changing things up may be what you really need to snap out of your dating funk.

TIME relationships

The Worst Questions Women Get When Online Dating

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Keyboard with red heart on button, close-up Vstock—Getty Images/Tetra images RF

I was having brunch with some girlfriends the other day, and we got on the subject of first dates. While we all had different experiences, there was one thing we all agreed on: There are a few questions we are absolutely tired of hearing from guys on a first date. Here they are, in no particular order.

What do you do for fun?
It’s a generic question that breeds generic answers, and doesn’t really give you additional insight into who I am. Asking me what I “do for fun” kind of makes me feel like I’m on an interview, not a date. Some of you may be thinking that this question means the guy is trying to plan a future date for us. I really wish you were right, but that’s what makes this question extra annoying: The same guys who ask me what I to do for fun will turn around in two weeks, and ask me what I would like to do for our first date, even though I’ve given them a list of things I do for fun. It makes no sense to me!

So, why are you single?
There is no faster way to make me feel like I’m failing at life than to ask me why I’m single. I mean, what is the right answer to a question like this? Should I say, “Well, I don’t hook up right away, so most guys get bored with me, and that’s why I’m single!” Or should I say, “I get really clingy around month three and it scares guys off, so here I am, solo!” The world already gives single girls the side-eye; there really is no need to bring up singledom on dates.

You’re so pretty, I’m surprised someone hasn’t taken you off the market! (aka, “Why are you single: The Remix)
This is one of those backhanded compliments that really has no response. When men say this to me, it makes me feel like something is wrong with me — especially because 99% of the men who use corny lines like this will not make any moves to take me off the market.

What kind of guys/girls do you like?
This question is tough, because I understand it. As a Plus-Size Princess, I often wonder if the guys asking me out have dated big girls before (not that it matters, but I do wonder), and I’ve learned that the answer is rarely helpful. If his last three girlfriends looked like Jennifer Lopez, I may feel insecure, but if his last three girlfriends looked like Rebel Wilson, I might wonder if he’s a chubby chaser. On the flip side, when a guy asks me what kind of guys I like, I might feel uncomfortable, especially if he doesn’t fit my normal boyfriend mold. I don’t want to have to tell Kevin Hart that my last three boyfriends were NBA players. That’s awkward, and irrelevant. In the end, knowing a person’s “type” really doesn’t matter as long as they’re attracted to you.

So, do you like (adjective here) guys/girls?
This question is a little different from “what kind of guys/girls do you like?” As a plus-size woman of color, I hear this question in two scenarios. Either the guy is trying to see if I’m cool with him not being black, or the guy is trying to see if I’m cool with him being skinny. For me, the answer is always the same: “I like all types of guys.” I mean, if I’m on a date with you, it’s because I’m open to dating you, no matter what you look like.

Why did your last relationship end?
So, are you trying to make me to cry on our first date? This is information you’ll get eventually, but maybe we can keep it light and positive on the first few dates, please?

Do you live alone?
Seriously, why does a man need to know if I live alone? In my opinion, this question just shows that he’s calculating how soon we’ll be hooking up, which is just tacky.

If you’re someone who has trouble making small talk on dates, one of my tricks is to start with current things, and go from there. Meaning: Instead of asking “What do you do for fun?” I’ll ask “What did you do this weekend?” and from there, I’ll get to learn what the person enjoys doing in their free time.

Instead of being in the moment and asking about things based on the person we’re with, people come with these dating interview questions that they use on everyone they’ve ever met, and expect sparks to fly with generic inquisitions. Meh. I call these annoying dating questions, but they might just be lazy dating questions.

Have you had any of these questions on dates? How did you respond?

RELATED: What If Your SO Didn’t Like Your Body?

On her blog, Plus Size Princess, CeCe Olisa has detailed everything from what it’s like to be the only big black girl in a yoga class (fine, thanks!), to her adventures in plus-size dating in the Big Apple. Now, the New York City transplant is lending her poignant, often-hilarious voice to R29.

This article was written by Cece Olisa and originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

 

 

TIME

Man Poses as a Cupcake on Tinder, Succeeds Wildly

Clever Cupcakes / Flickr

Sweet guys win every time

Writer Lee Breslouer knew Tinder was a competitive dating market. So when he decided to get on the site, he knew what he had to do to get a leg up: pretend he was a cupcake. Single, heterosexual women like men, he explains, “but they love cupcakes.” Sounds like someone’s been watching too much Sex and the City.

Breslouer drew a dashing man’s face (sporting a protruding chin) on a cupcake with brown icing, made it a Facebook profile with a series of action shots (surrounded by beer bottles, for one), then let let it loose on Tinder’s female population. Cupcake-man was a hit.

Before long, the cupcake was flirting with a gaggle of women. “Trust me I know how to handle my frosting,” one wrote. “I’ve been with many cupcakes in my time. But always very briefly,” another confessed.

“My personality and the cupcake’s were merging right before my eyes,” Breslouer writes. He jokes about donuts and milk being his relatives and details his background—carrot cake and cream-cheese frosting. He does far better as a cupcake than as himself on any other dating site, which maybe says as much about ladies as it does about him.

TIME social

The Words Most Likely to Find You Online Dating Success

Is your online dating profile failing to attract “the one?” It may be because of the words you’re using, a new analysis from dating site PlentyOfFish reveals.

In the study, a team of PhD scientists analyzed the words used by the 1.2 million profiles on PlentyOfFish. According to the company, very clear trends arose amongst those who were successful in finding love and those who were still looking.

Those who have found love, unsurprisingly, use the word “love” the most in their profiles. Successful daters of both sexes frequently used the words “time,” “life,” “friend” and “music,” as well.

Men are more likely to find love using words in their online dating profile that suggest an interest in a long-term relationship. The words “heart,” “children,” “romantic” and “relationship” are all markers of a man most likely to see success in love. The advice holds true for women, as well: Women who found relationships used the word “relationship” 16% more often than those who are still single.

Those still looking for love tend to use words that describe shorter term activities, like “travel,” “dinner” and “shop” for women and “hang” and “humor” for men.

Want to learn more about saucing up your online dating profile? Check out this more detailed word analysis of successful OKCupid and Match.com profiles. Then be sure to read up on these online dating red flags so you know what – and who – to avoid online.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME IPO

Online Matchmaker Zoosk Files $100M IPO

While it has yet to log a profit, the popular dating site boasts 26 million members and a top iTunes App. It filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday announcing a planned $100 million initial public offering

The online dating website Zoosk filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday announcing a planned $100 million initial public offering.

The San Francisco startup was founded in 2007 and began as a website but has been particularly successful as a mobile app, grabbing the number one grossing dating app spot in the Apple app store. The 26-million member service, with users spread across 80 countries, saw revenues of $178 million last year for a net loss of $2.6 million in 2013, Techcrunch reports. In 2012, the site posted a significantly higher net loss of $20.7 million and revenues of just $109 million.

While Zoosk’s earnings have yet to hit positive territory, the service has been gaining users at a rapid pace. According to its IPO filing, by the end of 2013 Zoosk had a total of 26 million members and 650,000 paying subscribers — up 44% and 35%, respectively from 2012.

Bookrunners for the IPO include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and RBC Capital Markets, according to Techcrunch.

[TechCrunch]

TIME Dating

Forget Dating Sites, Try Facebook Instead To Find the One

Not only are more people meeting on social networks, but their relationships were happier than those that began offline in more traditional ways

Online dating can be so stressful – filling out the profile and keeping up with all the interactions can feel like a job – so it’s no surprise that sometimes digital romance blooms under more Facebook friend-ly circumstances.

Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of Communication Studies at University of Kansas, was surprised to learn that 7% of people who married after meeting online had met for the first time on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and ClassMates – not matchmaking chat rooms, or online dating sites or via other romance-centric cyber connections.

MORE: Inside Tinder: Meet the Guys Who Turned Dating Into an Addiction

“It was really, really astonishing, since [romantic relationships] aren’t the purpose of these sites,” he says of the data, which came from eHarmony, the online dating service.

Hall decided to investigate the connection, and learn more about who was meeting their significant other this way, and how well these marriages fared. The sample included 19,131 participants who had been married once between 2005 and 2012, and were asked where they met – was it online dating sites; email or instant messaging; online communities such as chat rooms or virtual reality games; or social networking sites.

Those who met on social networking sites were more likely to be younger, married more recently, and African American compared to those who met on other ways on the internet.

MORE: Online Dating Doesn’t Just Save You Time, It Saves You at Least $6,400

And when the participants were compared on marital satisfaction, the partners who met via social networking reported being just as happy as those who were introduced on online dating sites, which tout their compatibility benefits, and more satisfied than those who met on online communities, which nurture conversations among people with similar interests and beliefs. What surprised Hall even more, however, was that the social networking-based relationships were happier than those that began offline, in traditional ways such as being introduced by mutual friends.

“I was surprised by a lot of these results,” he says. “I think that social networking is the digital version of being introduced by friends.” For most of the 20th century, friend-based introductions were the primary way people met their spouse, he says, and social networks may simply be an extension of that pattern.

That could also explain why marriages that began on social networking sites were also no more likely to end in divorce than unions that were generated by online dating sites that involve algorithms and strangers trying to match people together, rather than acquaintances who know their friends’ likes and dislikes and personality best.

MORE: With Oculus, Facebook Can Reinvent Itself — and Its Reputation

Social networking sites also have another potential advantage over dating services – they aren’t burdened by the pressure of trying to find love and the anxiety of having to present yourself in the best possible light to catch a mate. While there’s no truth filter on sites like Facebook, and there is certainly some amount of self-promotion and exaggeration, having your circle of friends visit your page can keep you pretty honest, which means by and large, your social network version of you is relatively close to the real thing – at least that’s what the studies show.

The result? Conversations, observations and interactions on social networking sites may be more casual and low risk, relieved of the pressure and anticipation of a potential date (or rejection for a potential date) that shadow every picture, message and response on dating sites. “In part, social networking sites provide a low risk, high reward place to meet people,” says Hall. “It’s a good place to do some investigating and a good place to learn about people that doesn’t carry the self-presentational weight of creating an online dating profile.”

The fact that most of the marriages were among African-Americans could reflect the fact that at the time the data were collected, between 2005 and 2012, African-Americans and Latinos were over-represented on social networking sites compared to their proportions in the general population. For these groups, he says, such sites may have been a way to expand their already close-knit network of friends to include others like them, but not yet part of their local connections.

Of course, the data may also reflect more early social networking behavior than the way that people use the sites today. While it dominated the early days of cyber connecting, for example, MySpace was surpassed by Facebook in 2008 as the primary source of online interactions. And the rising age of Facebook users may also have an effect on the patterns that Hall found. While it’s possible that people who meet and marry via social networking sites may always be from a young demographic, it’s also possible that as more people join the site, including those who are looking for a second chance at love later in life, could drive that average age up.

What the results do show is that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss social networks as an important tool for finding love in the 21st century. According to a Pew Research Center Internet Project poll, in 2013, 24% of internet users have flirted with someone online, compared to 15% in 2005. And Hall’s findings suggest that those flirtations, if they’re on social networking sites, are increasingly likely to lead to meaningful relationships, and even happy marriages.

TIME relationships

Man Who Really Cannot Handle Rejection Steals His OkCupid Date’s Phone

Online dating
Getty Images

And then he hacks her OkCupid account like a true gentleman

Anyone who’s ever used online dating site OkCupid knows it can be a convenient way to connect with somebody really interesting and worthwhile. Or, it can be a festering cesspool of awkwardness, crawling with weirdos and people who just can’t find it in them to stop talking about how study abroad changed their life.

But usually, the worst thing those weirdos ever do is talk way too much about Game of Thrones, and the worst thing the study abroad enthusiasts do is assure you that in Spain, they never would be eating dinner this early.

So really, they are all pretty harmless compared to the Brooklyn man who stole his date’s iPhone — and hacked her OkCupid account — after she rejected him. It all began when, after a few drinks, the 24-year-old suitor invited his 22-year-old companion back to his apartment, the New York Post reports. She declined, and he then followed her to the subway station and threw a water bottle at her. She got away from him, but he did manage to steal her phone.

The man, who police are still seeking, used the phone to text the woman’s friend and then log into her dating profile. He uploaded photos and then changed her profile to say “I’m available for threesomes,” she told the Post.

So, next time your OkCupid date tries to speak to you in Dothraki or talks too much about how much Kenya changed him, consider yourself lucky. Things could be way, way worse.

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