In the last 24 hours there has been quite a bit written about the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, entitled ‘Last Forever,’ and naturally so for such a cultural phenomenon. If you didn’t watch catch a recap here and a couple criticisms can be read here and here. I won’t add much to the torrent of writing that hit the internet at 9:01pm EST March 31st. However, I think a couple of quick remarks are in order if simply to clarify my own thoughts on the matter.
HIMYM has been with the Generation Y/Millennial generation since they really came into their own. Ages vary, but if you’ve watch television during the last decade you have probably seen an episode of HIMYM. It was the one show on television that was really able to capture the silliness, absurdity, and often contradictory and confusing sentimentality that everyone experiences. It embraced sentimentality more than any other show and instead of laughing at the antics of the characters you were laughing with them. We all related to one or more of the characters during some point of the show. This explains why we are so attached to HIMYM and wanted to see an ending that fitted our expectations of the series.
The show contained too much to address all of the applause worthy and heart wrenching revelations, such as Barney and Robin’s divorce, the birth of Marshall and Lilly’s third child, Marshall’s “Judge Fudge,” among others. But what really kicks all of us is the mother’s death and the return to the Ted-Robin connection. Many people are asking why did we just watch the show for nine years if it was just going to return to the pilot episode, but that is actually a neat wrap up for the series and provides much needed closure for the fans.
However, here’s the real kicker: while the finale is in line with one of the show’s underlying ideas–that it is about the journey rather than the ending–it betrays the deeper principles of the show in the most important way. The show was always about Ted being the hopeless unrepentant romantic. The finale did tear apart the relationships between the characters, which we can add up to life being life, but it also destroyed this ‘happily ever after’ we were promised Ted would get after all his suffering. We don’t know how Robin and Ted will end up and the finale just sent us on a decade long merry chase crammed into an hour.
HIMYM was always about Ted. Him drifting back to Robin at the end is a sop to the initial hook, but slaps us in the face because life doesn’t work like that. We grow, relationships evolve, and we have to leave people behind or adapt to new circumstances. The show is about Ted learning and becoming someone that would make a good husband, and his romantic self deserves to be with someone that loves him for who he is from the beginning, not a throw back to someone who jerked him around all these years. Robin is a great character but putting them together at the end is jarring at the best, and a betrayal at worst. The mother (Tracy) is a contrived character and we are supposed to love her, but that’s what makes it the ending that Ted deserved, the one he was promised.
My hat is off to creators and writers Craig Thomas and Carter Bays for creating a show that mustered loyal fans to cheer it on all the way to the end, through the best and worst of times. I just wish they had given us the ending we all wanted and the one that Ted really deserved.