NOTE: If you plan on watching the How I Met Your Mother finale and haven’t done so yet, you might not want to read this as it is about my feelings about the ending of the show. You’ve been warned.
I suppose when a television show is on the air for nine seasons, people have a certain reaction to it, regardless of how “critically acclaimed” a show actually is. We saw this last week after How I Met Your Mother, a staple on CBS’ Monday night lineup since September 2005, ended its run, and we meet the mother. Technically, we met the mother with in the final scene of the previous season, but Ted Mosby and the mother, Tracy McConnell, have kids, get married (in that order), and in a “twist” ending that most people probably saw coming, Ted’s children realize the story is not really about how he met their mother, but instead a device to ask his now teenage children if it was okay to start dating “Aunt Robin,” because, as viewers found out two minutes prior, the poor mother died of “sad hospital scene disease.”
Before I expand on five of the issues that I had with the way the show ended, I would like to point out that HIMYM is not a show I watched from the beginning, nor is it one that I consider to be a great show. Of the shows currently on television that I watch, it is just outside the top ten. Had I not had hours upon hours of time to kill in Iraq in 2010, with ready access to all the previous seasons, I probably wouldn’t have ever watched the show. It’s not a terrible show either, but it is procedural and on a network that doesn’t view its audience as knowing what should be funny.*
*I have a problem with the classic sitcom “setup-punchline-laugh track” that a lot of modern shows use. Instead of just focusing on writing a good joke, writers of certain shows have relied on this style and it can be annoying. CBS seems to be a chief offender on most of their shows, though HIMYM wasn’t supposed to have one in the beginning. The great comedies on television – Parks and Recreation and the late, great 30 Rock come to mind – don’t insult the audience by telling them when they should be laughing. I’m not saying that the show would have been better without a laugh track, but it would have better shown the often brilliant writing on the show.
That said, here are the four major issues I had with the ending itself:
1) Ted and Robin Did Not Work as a Couple – In the grand scheme of the show, I really have no problem with Ted ending up with Robin, even if Robin was my least favorite character and their pairing on the show was often so toxic. In hindsight, maybe the writers decided to make them such a horrible couple when they were together because of the ending they had in mind. I guess they worked as friends, and because Robin couldn’t provide Ted with children, I guess he had to go get them elsewhere? Apparently adoption wouldn’t have been an option.
When Ted and Robin were together, and even after they weren’t, the constant back and forth got super annoying and was often cringe-worthy. Marshall and Lily have always been strong, and the Robin/Barney pairing had really started to grow on me prior to the season-long wedding weekend (more on this in a minute), and Tracey/Ted has real potential…even though we barely saw anything. I just personally didn’t like the Ted/Robin pairing, and that ruined the end of the show for me.
2) Season-long Wedding for a Marriage that Lasts 20 Minutes – As many others have said online, the last season ended up being a waste of time, especially considering that the Robin and Barney marriage lasted 3 years in the show’s world. Did we really need 20 episodes surrounding the wedding? Why not marry them off early in the season and flesh out some of the mini-scenes that happened in the finale? Marriages fail, and that’s fine, but the failure of the Robin/Barney marriage was used as a plot device to get Barney back to his old ways (more on this later) and undo 2+ years of Barney learning that he doesn’t need to use “The Playbook” anymore and can actually be a character with depth.
3) Regressing Barney – Barney, played more than adequately my Neil Patrick Harris, spent the first six seasons of the show just being a scumbag, using gimmicks to pick up girls and generally being a horrible person. As he started to get older, and through relationships with Quinn and Nora, he shed this persona and was finally able to settle down with someone. Robin seemed like the perfect person, and there was two years of them going back and forth on things and finally ending up and getting married in the second-to-last episode…only to end up divorced because Robin is busy traveling around the world and Barney doesn’t like it.
Of course Barney, now in his 40s, reverts to the old Barney, sleeps with 31 different women in 31 days, gets “Number 31” (who is never named) pregnant, and has a daughter. While the scene with Barney and his new daughter was well done, it wasn’t necessary. If anything, let Barney be single for a bit, not as a lecherous scumbag, and let him settle in with someone, either on screen or off. The character had shown some real change over the final two years, only to regress to a caricature for the sake of a 30 second scene with a baby.
4) Killing the Mother- I do not have a problem with them killing off poor Tracy McConnell of some unknown disease. If Ted and Robin are supposed to end up with blue french horns involved, the Mother obviously has to go away somehow. One divorce is quite enough, so killing her makes sense in that regard. However, we as viewers see her dying in one scene, and not two minutes later, the kids are telling Ted that it is okay to move on because it’s been six years. It’s just not enough.
As mentioned above, had the final season had 15 episodes showing the future of Ted and Tracy that was only hinted at in the finale, and Tracy’s death was handled like Marshal’s father’s in a previous season, it would have had more impact. Viewers would have had the opportunity to see the Ted and Tracy relationship develop and see that Ted truly did love her until the very end, instead of the “well, she’s dead and Robin is still there, so…” ending we got instead.
I say all this firm in the belief that show runners have the right to end their projects as they see fit, and seeing as how they shot the scene with the kids eight years ago, it definitely shows that they knew what they wanted to do all along. Maybe the show just went a season or two more than it should have, like another show that ended a few years ago. Furthermore, a lot of people complaining – myself included – have never created something as successful as HIMYM, but people like to be experts and critical of things, especially in this day and age of social media.
In the end, the show lasted nine seasons and ended the way that Craig Thomas and Carter Bays wanted. So long, HIMYM!
Until next time…