So I rewatched the series finale of How I Met Your Mother to make sure I got everything on the nose. It was better the second time around. And you know what?
I think that the finale was fitting, whether you liked how it ended or not.
Here’s the thing: we all knew this was coming, even if it was a little bit. The show is How I Met Your Mother, but it was always far and away the point of the story. The kids were right: you don’t go on for this long of a story to mention mom near the last 1/9th of it. Sure, it was quite blunt when the kids stated the story was about “how you have the hots for Aunt Robin;” but rightfully so, the story was so much more than about the mother. It was about how we learn more about ourselves everyday, even as adults, whether it was Marshall losing his father, or Robin learning she can’t have kids; Lily breaking up with Marshall to take an opportunity in San Francisco…and regretting it. And of course, Ted’s desire to love someone so hard it hurts…and losing all those girls in the process. So this entire series wasn’t about the mother. Even if the title of the series was finally accomplished in the 3rd to last scene, when Ted courageously spoke to Tracy for the first time.
But to think that the series was entirely about meeting the mother is naive. Sure, for a series finale, that’s the moment we’ve waited for. But it surely wasn’t the reason we stayed on. We knew while watching this series that Ted wasn’t going to marry any of the girls he dated, but we still cheered him on through Robin, Victoria, Stella, and Zoey. So really, while we’ve fallen in love with Tracy over this last season, we should have known that the story doesn’t stop there.
Let’s even discuss Tracy’s passing. Personally, I thought it was fine because 1) this was a 9-season long show, don’t you think if she was still around this entire time, she wouldn’t walk in and talk to the kids or Ted, 2) this was a 9-season long show, you really think that Ted would tell them the story without there being a reason, 3) this was a 9-season long show, would you really be that happy if you saw Tracy and Ted hugging it out at the end of the story and that’s it? Bob’s your uncle? Fat lady sings? No. That’s too predictable. That’s too cookie-cutter. That’s not HIMYM. And admit it, this version is better than just wrapping up the story with a perfect bow.
Because guess what? Life is not a perfect bow, as the show presents perfectly throughout the series AND through its finale. “Big moments” happen. Friends drift. The people you hung out with in high school are not the same people you hung out with in college, who are not the same people you hung out with in your 20s, and so on. Marshall & Lily were at least the most constant, but it was still months (perhaps years) between the gang meet-ups. And that’s what happens when you have a family or a job that takes you all over the world.
I think we have a hard time accepting the finale (or thinking it was crappy) because we spanned 8 years in 8 seasons, then 2-3 days in one season, and then suddenly 12 years (including the 6 years after the mother passed) in one hour. The believability becomes tougher to achieve when time jumps around like that. But most importantly, I think people thought the finale was crappy because they went through this entire story focused on the mother, just to have it end up being about Robin. And that’s unfair. We became too focused on the MOMENT of meeting the mother, and not enough on the STORY that involved that moment. The moment was Tracy. But story was always about Robin.
Honestly, I think people who thought it was crappy are more upset with themselves that the creators were, as one of my friends put it, “…messing with our minds the whole time!”.
But that’s where I applaud creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. As a fan, I’m only a little upset the whole story goes back to Robin. It’s not the perfect ending we (the fans) want or that Ted deserved. Heck, WE DON’T EVEN KNOW IF IT WORKS OUT between Ted and Robin! So they botched it. They botched doing what the fans wanted: the story to be about the mother. But they completely nailed it too. They made something predictable, unpredictable. They made something true to heart, yet still hilarious (most series finales drop the ball on the funny, but HIMYM did well on this: Haaaaave you met Ted? Not Yeti. The Playbook II). They did what made the story real, which is a hard pill to swallow. Ted had the love of his life, and now she’s gone. And now, there’s a second love. It may not be what the fans want, but at the end of the day, HIMYM nailed what it was supposed to, and it’s an ending all the fans needed. Anything different just wouldn’t quite be How I Met Your Mother.