how did it get to this?
I've been using runit, because I am too lazy and clueless to write init scripts reliably. It's very lightweight, runs on a bunch of systems and really does one thing - keep daemons up.
I am not saying it's the best - but it looks like it has a very small codebase, it doesn't do much and generally has not bugged me after I configured each service correctly. I believe other systems also exist to avoid using init scripts directly. Not Monit, as it relies on you configuring the daemon start/stop commands elsewhere.
On the other hand, systemd is a massive sprawl, does a lot of things - some of them useful, like dependencies and generally has needed more looking after. Twice I've had errors on a Django server that, after a lot of looking around ended up because something had changed in the, Chef-related, code that's exposed to systemd and esoteric (not emitted by systemd) errors resulted when systemd could not make sense of the incorrect configuration.
I don't hate it - init scripts look a bit antiquated to me and they seem unforgiving to beginners - but I don't much like it. What I certainly do hate is how, in an OS that is supposed to be all about choice, sometime excessively so as in the window manager menagerie, we somehow ended up with one mandatory daemon scheduler on almost all distributions. Via, of all types of dependencies, the GUI layer. For a window manager that you may not even have installed.
Talk about the antithesis of the Unix philosophy of do one thing, do it well.
Oh, then there are also the security bugs and the project owner is an arrogant twat. That too.