First and foremost, MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD. You’ve been warned.
With the series finale now a month behind us, fans of the hit CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” have had some time to cool off. For the previous three textual analysis entries, I’ve done them all on shows that I’ve seen very few (if any) other episodes of the show. So this one is going to be a) longer, b) a little more focused on the nine-season span of the show, and c) totally filled with spoilers and personal opinion.
But this is a good thing.
In the finale, in case you missed it or live under a rock (I’ve already warned about spoilers twice!), Ted Mosby is the best man at Robin Scherbatsky and Barney Stinson’s wedding. He’s gone through the entire ninth season in flashes forward, flashes back, and all living in the same weekend in the timeline of the show. After Robin and Barney’s wedding, Ted leaves early to move to Chicago in the morning, and meets the titular character we’ve seen all season, whose name we finally discover, is Tracy McConnell. Awesome. We learn of the Ted and Tracy having children, finally getting married, and moving into the home Ted bought a few seasons back. Robin and Barney get divorced, and Barney goes back to his old ways of scamming girls nearly half his age into sleeping with him. Tracy gets sick and passes away through a “long” sickness (read: about 15 seconds of viewing time), and dies, confirming the suspicions of a huge number of fans.
But it doesn’t end there.
Ted’s kids, patiently sitting on the couch for nine years, are irritated. Their mother has been dead for six years, they insist, and it’s time for Ted to move on. They’re convinced Ted just told them a really long story about how he is still in love with their aunt Robin, and encourages him to call her up. Blue french horn in hand, Ted does, and the series ends the same way it started, with Ted standing outside Robin’s door on the hail-Mary of all romantic gestures.
I’ve overcome my initial rage, and in the past month, it’s dulled more to general dissatisfaction.
My biggest issue with the end of the series comes with the fact that, building an entire season up to how Ted actually meets the woman he falls in love with and has his children with, and spends the happiest years of his life with, just to kill her off 20 minutes later is lame. It’s insulting to fans who have watched the show for nine years (or who have watched the series up to a point and joined in along the way, of course) because the show runners have made a promise of “here’s how Ted ends his quest for love” and then robbed us of the satisfaction of seeing him end up happy with the character you’ve promised when you decided to title the show “How I Met Your Mother.”
Similarly, killing off the mother was mostly expected, but having Ted pursue Robin for the x-th time is just getting tiresome. It’s like Ross and Rachel in Friends, except with many more backslides and messy hookups. You spent an entire season building up the marriage of Robin and Barney, with each experiencing doubts and overcoming them, and then tear the entire thing down in the first 10-15 minutes of the finale. What’s the point of setting up this entire season when you’re going to wreck the entire central event of the season?
I guess the central theme of the show is that love isn’t easy. It’s never a story book ending the way every other medium tells us.
And that… that is where the ending is okay by me.