You may have noticed, but the popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” has recently ended its run after 9 successful years. The show was about Ted Mosby, who tells his kids in the year 2030 the story of how he had met their mother all those years ago, while living his life in NYC, accompanied by his best friends Marshall, Lilly, Barney and his great love Robin.
After 9 seasons of fun, quirky, intelligent humor and memories, the series eventually ended on March 31st, and the finale left the viewers… divided, to say the least. Many people hated it, some liked it. I was also torn, and can really understand why people dismiss it. With this post I want to give my opinion on the finale, its merits and its flaws. There will be spoilers, as the is a discussion of the show’s finale. If you don’t want to be spoiled, skip reading and watch the show instead.
It’s been a long and difficult road, but we finally got there…
The ninth season of HIMYM took place over the course of one weekend mostly. There were a few episodes that took place before or after, but those were exceptions. It also wasn’t an ordinary weekend, as it was the weekend of womanizer Barney’s wedding with Robin. The very same wedding where Ted would finally meet his soul mate, the titular mother (Cristin Milioti).
This timely setting was a huge risk, and in my opinion the season should have been much shorter than 24 (!) episodes! And while there are some bad ones (“Last time in New York“, “Broken Code“, “Sunrise” !!!!!) there are other episodes like “Knight vision” and “Slapsgiving III – Slappointment in Slapmarra“, which revived the show’s past high points. Also, there episodes that were just fantastic, and belong to the best episodes of the entire series: “Lighthouse“, “Platonish“, “How your mother met me” and “Vesuvius“. I’ll talk about those episodes in a moment.
Season 9 also introduced us to the mother, Tracy McConnel, and we finally got to spend some time with her. Sadly it was too little time, as you will see. And she is totally loveable. Most viewers fell in love with her the instant she appeared on-screen (which she actually did at the end of season 8). Even though I have to admit that she is merely a female version of Ted, and just too good to be true, she seemed to be everything he – and we – ever yearned for.
The final minutes of season 8 are one of the best season endings in my opinion. You see a montage of all the character’s heading towards Farhampton. Everybody has got stuff in their minds. Barney and Robin are excited about their wedding and marriage, Lily is excited about going to Rome, Marshall is anxious because he hasn’t told Lily about taking a job as a judge instead of going to Rome, and Ted is planning to move to Chicago. And at a train station, a girl with a yellow umbrella is buying a ticket to Farhampton… The course for a bumpy future and ninth season is set.
Why the “greatest love story he’s ever heard of” wasn’t…
In season 5’s “The Window“, future Ted talks about the second greatest love story he ever heard of. It’s the story of the perfect girl next door, who eventually fell for the perfect guy next door. This leads to the assumption that the greatest love story he ever heard of was his own. But honestly, for the most part of the remaining seasons I was very doubtful about how that would work. But then, season 9’s “Platonish” has aired, and I got my answer. In this episode, it is revealed that it was Tracy who had convinced Barney to go after Robin one last time. With the helping aid of Ted, it worked, and they came together. It seemed perfect. Ted and Tracy both created the very circumstances that would get them to meet in the end.
I thought there would come some realizations to the characters that this was meant to be, and that this back story would help in the forming of their relationship. That it was Tracy, who has helped Barney (and Robin, and Lilly, and Marshall) was sidelined or not even mentioned.
And that was also the case for their relationship itself. We may have already seen their first date, their almost encounters, the proposal and the birth of their second child. But we haven’t seen the relationship-moments, those moments that were the show’s biggest selling point – close-to-real interpersonal relationships. Though the show’s finale show’s some moments in the flash forward scenes, though still leaving out their first true encounter (a very clever move, I have to tell), you are not that immersed. In scenes like the group learning about Barney’s and Robin’s divorce, she’s clearly the fifth wheel. You never see any scenes that show much friendship interaction between these characters. To be honest, that what the finale’s plot was about: friendships evolving, ending, and renewing. But it was done kinda sloppy. Which just resolves in having too little time to shove it all under.
But back to Ted’s and Tracy’s relationship: Essentially, you just didn’t know her that well. So you couldn’t win affection in the relationship, and you couldn’t have this affection when it was revealed that she had died. The episode “Vesuvius” teased a terminal illness, that would eventually kill Tracy. This little sidenote promised an in my opinion perfect ending to the series. The mother dies/ has died. Ted can’t get over it, and even though he promised Tracy not to live in the past, he does exactly that by telling their kids the story of how he met their mother. To share his inner most trauma but also to show them how life can be beautiful, adventurous and full of surprises. It is a rather sad ending, that’s true, but it would only prove that it is just life. In the finale itself, well, they kill her off offscreen, and have it only mentioned vaguely, as a sidenote quasi. The handling of her character was done very poorly, as it also showed that the show’s creators didn’t care enough about her to give The Mother a proper send off.
As for future Ted, well, it is revealed that he didn’t tell the kids the story of how he met their mother to tell them about how he met their mother, but to tell them about his being in love with Robin. Yes, that’s right, they killed off the titular character in favor for bringing the two characters together that have met in the first episode. To quote my friend Wolfgang from flipthetruck, that’s a “Fuck you to the audience.” (note by the author: the link doesn’t bring you to a review of HIMYM, just to flipthetruck’s review site. They never made a review about HIMYM!) Because no one really ever did give a thing about Ted and Robin, because, as it was revealed in the very first episode, she is NOT the mother. They were not meant wo be. Everybody was annoyed by the constant “Ted’s not over Robin-thing”, but I understood that it was necessary to show it to make it more clear, that it would be eventually Tracy who wins his heart, and heals him from his obsession over Robin.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t find the way they ended the show bad per se. But, once again, the handling was done really really poorly. Due to the fact that those major events, Tracy’s death and the revelation about Ted’s love for Robin, happened within a few minutes, you never saw the time that had passed between them. Maybe you could have witnessed the slowly regaining of affection for Robin, and it wouldn’t offend that much that they eventually cam together. The way they really handled it just makes Tracy look like a rebound girl, the one Ted gets because he didn’t get the woman he apparently truly loved.
…and that’s how I met your mother.
HIMYM is great show, and alway will be. I just think it’s sad, that instead of ending on a high note, it just ended in a “meh”-way. There were a lot of deleted scenes that I would really like to see, maybe they will bring more emotion into play (there was a funeral scene, a scene after the wedding, a scene after Ted and Robin coming together etc).
The final season DVD set contains an alternate ending. One in which the mother doesn’t die. Even though it had some very good concepts and many people seem to like it as the better ending version, I find it a lazy effort that was quickly made as an afterthought, and just made to please everybody.
I find it very sad, that the show didn’t get the perfect ending it deserved, but we have to move on now. There are a lot of HIMYM clones on they way, including the spin-off “How I met your dad” and “A to Z“, starring Cristin Milioti.