How I Met Your Mother is over. We saw them meet, and it’s over. But was that really the ending this whole time? Did we really wait nine seasons for the biggest anticlimax of all time? Why did they do this to me?! Is this a super distasteful April Fools joke?!? As you can tell, I have a lot of questions.
So what’s the big deal? Why is approximately half the internet up in arms today? Well, remember how in my most recent column about How I Met Your Mother, I outlined everything that I didn’t want to happen? It all happened.
The Mother, whose name is Tracy McConnell, dies in 2024, six years before Ted tells his story.
I know the mother has only been around for basically half a season. We’re not going to care about her as much as we care about the gang. I get that. It was also getting hard to deny that she was very clearly dead by 2030 – the foundation was all there. But still, really? You give us Ted’s perfect girl on a platter and then give her a five second death scene stuck smack-dab in the middle of a montage? No. I’m aware of how morbid I sound, but Ted would have given a goddamn good eulogy. But, ultimately – and I know this is a point the entire Internet has already made – it was hard to care about her death THAT much when it happened within the last ten minutes of the hour -long finale, and was basically glossed right over. Maybe if half the season had been about Ted, grappling with losing his wife and the mother of his children, the investment would have been there. It definitely wasn’t.
After making us root for them for four seasons and sit through an ENTIRE SEASON REVOLVING AROUND THEIR WEDDING, Robin and Barney get divorced in the first fifteen minutes.
Maybe my bitterness about this is just really about how strongly I loathed the concept of this season, but I also feel genuinely gypped. Sure, Robin and Barney were never a likely couple, and they sometimes weren’t even a likable couple. But, thanks to some great chemistry between Harris and Smulders and some good writing along the way, we bought it, and rooted for it. Why should I give one single shit about this entire season, a season that was focused specifically on Barney and Robin making it work against all odds because they love each other when they IMMEDIATELY got divorced? A twist ending is one thing, but this just makes me feel cheated.
Barney is supposedly redeemed through parenthood, but actually just becomes legitimately unlikable.
Okay. Let me get this straight. You’re Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. You create Barney Stinson – a womanizing, suit-donning, Scotch-swilling, laser-tag winning sexual mastermind riddled with daddy issues and a hell of a gambling addiction. You hire the ridiculously charismatic Neil Patrick Harris to play the shit out of him. You give him a legitimately interesting character arc for nine seasons – after making him out to be a shallow stock character, you give us a glimpse into another side of him through his relationship with Robin and his reunion with his estranged father. You make him a multifaceted and complex character who also has a Playbook and makes a ton of boob jokes – and somehow, you make him almost lovable. And then you finish his story by having him divorce from the woman who seems to be the love of his life, basically never see her again, knock up a rando at the end of a “perfect month” (thereby, rando becomes Number 31), love his daughter, and start yelling at slutty girls in bars to cover up and call their parents. What?! Are you fucking kidding me?!? Daughter or no daughter, a guy who refers to the mother of his child (who we never see, or meet, nor do we know what her relationship with Barney is) by number alone and slut-shames girls in bars is unlikable. Barney has always veered towards just being a jerk, but has always redeemed himself at the very last second. There’s no coming back from this one.
Marshall and Lily are just kind of there.
They have another kid and move to a bigger place, which we never see. Lily basically cries for the whole episode. I really liked her white whale costume, to be absolutely fair.
Robin Scherbatsky was apparently pining after Ted this entire time.
Again. You’re Bays and Thomas. You create Robin Scherbatsky, a former teen pop star from Canada who loves guns and hockey and is really a giant weirdo who misuses the word “literally” a lot. She doesn’t want to settle down, and she doesn’t want kids, nor can she have them. She and Ted have been off and on forever, but ultimately, he seems to drive her crazy in a not-good way, and she only makes a play for him when she feels backed into a corner in some way (like right before her wedding to Barney). And she’s pining after a guy whose romantic optimism is exactly what annoys her about him in the first place?! Come on. Robin was a really great character, but I feel now like everything we knew about her was kind of a lie. Robin would never vanish from the gang after her divorce, because she’s stronger than that, and she would never spend nine years mooning over someone like Ted Mosby.
It’s clear that Robin wasn’t actually the love of Ted’s life.
Robin would also never settle for being Plan B. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like she was – it seems like she was the endgame all along, but really think about this. Ted met a girl who loves what Robin hates about him, and they were perfect together. They had two children, and they got married, albeit seven years later than they had planned. And, honestly, when Robin showed up for the wedding, a little knot formed in my stomach, because didn’t we learn, in season 4, that you “never invite an ex to your wedding?” But then Tracy walked in, and Ted actually swooned. When Tracy was around, Robin barely existed for him. Even Lily notices – in the very beginning of the episode, when Marshall is furious that Ted gave up Chicago for a girl he had just met, Lily says, “It’s different this time.” Ted isn’t with Robin because she’s the real love of his life. Ted is with Robin because he can’t be with the love of his life. Was that supposed to be a happy ending?
This ending was a lazy cop-out, and the finale just a general disappointment.
I was talking about this with a friend of mine last night, and I’m now realizing that my expectations were too high for what is, ultimately, a fucking CBS sitcom that airs right before Two Broke Girls. It’s not HBO, where they can lay groundwork for months and really just do whatever they want. But this finale? The show deserved better. We deserved better. The way the finale jumped around in time didn’t serve it well – everything was so fast that very few moments had any time to land, and I feel like I was way less invested than I should have been. It was also a particularly saccharine episode with mostly recycled jokes, which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise (it has been a pretty sappy show overall), but it wasn’t very funny, and the “emotional” moments felt like they had been drained of all real emotion. But I guess what this comes down to is that this show was different. It had a weird, strict concept that actually worked for it most of the time. It rose above the sitcom medium time and time again, and often rewarded its viewers for sticking with it. But this ending? Older Ted brings Older Robin the blue french horn, back to her apartment filled with dogs that he’s allergic to (and just to talk about that for one second, you should never even consider ending up with the guy who makes you GIVE UP YOUR DOGS BECAUSE WHAT IS THAT), and they ride off into the sunset together? And all this happens because the girl who was actually Ted’s soulmate is dead and his kids told him to go call Robin? That’s lazy. I know the writers tied their hands by telling us Robin wasn’t the mother in the pilot, and I guess they were mad at themselves for doing that, so they found a loophole – it was just such a terribly uncreative loophole. But really, the worst part about it is that this was their plan all along – we all knew they filmed finale scenes with the kids back in 2005 (when they were actually kids) that contained key information about the end of the entire series. We saw those scenes last night, where Ted’s kids tell him he obviously loves Robin and should go get her. So it wasn’t even that the writers ran out of ideas or something. This was the shitty plan the whole time. It honestly feels like the whole show – all the character development, most of the relationships, meeting Tracy at all – was pointless.
I loved this show, and I hate the finale is making me feel like I never loved it at all. So at some point, I’ll go back and watch some of my favorite episodes – “Swarley,” “Slap Bet,” “Three Days of Snow,” “The Playbook” – and remember why the show made me happy in the first place. I just wish the finale hadn’t… well, undone the work the show spent nine years on. Thoughts? Comments? Rage? Do you think I’m a crazy idiot and you’ve been rooting for Ted and Robin the whole time? Feel free to let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be watching the series finale of The Office, also known as “the right way to do a series finale,” and sulking into my yogurt.