There has been a lot of controversy over the How I Met Your Mother finale and weighing in at this point may seem a bit redundant but as a diehard fan who proudly owns a bright yellow umbrella; there are some things that need to be said.
My colleague Victoria Nelli wrote a very eloquent essay on why the finale worked. It was was well reasoned, justified, and by all accounts a fair assessment of the shows final bow…but to me it was just all wrong.
The finale we watched last night was conceived from the HOW I MET YOUR MOTHERS earliest days and if the show had ended in season 2 or 3 than this finale would have been very strong ( I can’t say brilliant because there were too many pacing issues) but here is the cold hard truth: The show outgrew its ending.
I fully understand how hard it is to let go of your vision. This is especially true for a sitcom as meticulously thought out as HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the natural progression of your show. Characters have a tendency to take on a life of their own, that’s simple a happy side effect of good writing, but the finale felt entirely too much like a rushed effort to accommodate an end game that simply no longer fit into the mythology.
(SIDE NOTE: I’ll be the first to admit I was huge fan of Barney and Robin together but the fact that they got divorced did not upset me. It seemed only inevitable for two people who have struggled with commitment their entire lives and as we all learn eventually; sometimes love just isn’t enough.)
Ted has pined after Robin for years and she only ever truly desired him when he was unavailable. Ted’s entire journey to find closure with Robin is what opened his heart to meeting Tracy. That’s what made HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER so wonderful. His dream girl wasn’t the girl he saw in the first five minutes of the pilot, it was someone just slightly beyond his reach. I did’t always like Ted but I was fully invested in his journey. When he was finally able to let go of Robin, it was as if he was free for the first time in nine years.
Poor Tracy. Most of the internet knew she was doomed but I held out hope that Bays and Thomas were throwing in a red herring to keep viewers on their toes. After all, wasn’t this about Ted’s happy ending? The fact that she had to die to make way for a romance that may not even succeed leaves me with a pit in my stomach. I feel as if The Mother went from being the mythic beacon of hope to a well packaged plot device used as a simple means to an end.
If the creators always intended it to be about Robin then they should have developed her into a character that could love Ted the ways he deserves to be loved. That isn’t how Robin is and that’s perfectly fine but it was a mistake to try to convince the audience in one hour that Robin had always felt the same way. That is not the epic ending Ted deserved. A blue French horn was not enough appease the strong feeling that this felt all wrong.
As I begin to accept that HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER is actually over, I am also going to start making peace with how it ended. This show has been one of very dearest friends for the past nine years and I am not going to let one episode define how I feel about it. When some time passes I will definitely revisit the old gang at MacLaren’s because at its core that’s what the HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER was about. It wasn’t about Robin. Hell, it wasn’t even about The Mother. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER was about the lives of five best friends trying to navigate their way through life and that was truly what made the series legendary.
….If I do marathon the series it’s safe to say that I will definitely be stopping at “The End of the Aisle”. A girl could only take so much.
Emily Cottone has been a TV addict since she her awkward middle school days when she realized the characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were her longest and most stable relationships. Even though she has long since managed to establish actual human connections television remains one of her very best friends. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyTalksTV.