Tuesday, April 1, 2014

When Stories Get Real: The Finale of How I Met Your Mother

Massive Spoilers—please watch the finale before reading.

From my random reading of fan responses to the finale of HIMYM on the internet, it’s pretty clear that fans either loved the ending or hated it.  It was a risky move, but I applaud the writers for daring to be so real.  I liked it.  I would’ve liked it more if I ever felt that Ted and Robin were right for each other (which I didn’t), but it came full circle in a very satisfying way.

How I Met Your Mother never shied away from messy.  It was a very funny show and mostly was light hearted, but it had those moments that were real, Lily and Marshel’s break-up, Marshal’s father dying, Robin learning she couldn’t have children, and Ted being left at the altar.  So it shouldn’t be too shocking for the fans when the finale gets a little messy because messy is real.

 I know some audiences are never going to like messy.  They want stories that show them that good concurs evil, that everything has a purpose, and that true love lasts forever.  I don’t blame them because I like these too.  Life is messy enough, and sometimes you need stories to show you how life should be.  But I think sometimes we need those stories that are messy because we also need to understand that our lives are not wrong because they don’t meet those ideals. 

So here are few of the real life lessons that I liked from the finale of How I Met Your Mother.

Robin and Barney’s divorce- Sometimes even when you love someone, you just can’t share a life with them.   So much time was devoted to the romance between Barney and Robin, and I can understand the fans anger that the show had them divorce so quickly.  I think the writers were trying to show that these two really did love each other, but they just couldn’t make it work.  Love is messy like that sometimes.  In some ways, you can’t really choose who you love, and sometimes you love someone who isn’t right for you.  So rarely do we see this idea shown on TV.  I kind of think it needs to be said.

Robin Leaving the Group- This was harder for me to watch than Robin and Barney getting a divorce because the show worked so hard to show how much these people meant to each other.  And seeing Robin pull away from the group was heart-breaking, especially because she didn’t want to.  But it was understandable.  Break-ups are rough, and the let’s just be friends sentiment is hard to pull off in real life.  Robin struggled with this in earlier seasons, and it was clear that this time it was just too much for her.

The Mother- This season spent a lot of time convincing the audience that Tracey was perfect for Ted, and they did a great job.  Kudos to the writers and the actress to bring in a character for such a short period and make her so real and loveable.  She was the love of Ted’s life.  I think that was clear.  A lot of fans were upset because she was so awesome, that she shouldn’t have seemed more right for Ted than Robin.  But I think that was the whole point.  Tracey was better for Ted.  She gave him the stable, deeply-rooted life he wanted, but with his kids grown and his wife gone, Ted was ready for a different life.  We grow and change, and there are times in our life when we need different things.

Robin and Ted- I wished I picked up from the beginning that this was Ted and Robin’s story.  Looking back, it was pretty obvious.  The story began with them meeting, and they kept coming back to each other over and over again over the years.  For some reason, Ted and Robin never quite worked for me, so I had a hard time seeing it.  But thinking back, I can see that this was quite the epic love story, of two people who cared deeply for each other, but just didn’t want the same things in life.  Robin had an amazing career where she traveled the world.  It is hard life to share with someone else, but that was what she wanted.  Ted wanted a family and home.  It was who he was, and even though he may have believed that he could’ve given that dream up for Robin, I don’t think he really could have.  If Robin and Ted had gotten married from the beginning, they would’ve gotten divorced. 

This story to me is about the people you love, and how much they mean to you.  I personally don’t believe in soul mates.  I think that there are a lot of people you could love if you really got to know them.  Some of them work for you and some don’t, but the love is real either way.  Ted loved Tracey, and he had a beautiful life with her.  If she had lived he would’ve loved her and stayed with her and been faithful to her until the end.  But he also loved Robin, and it was kind of beautiful that they finally both reached a place where they could be together.

I thought the final was perfect.  So thank you writers and producers of How I Met Your Mother for giving us a truly legendary show.

So what did you all think of the HIMYM finale?

P.S.  For those of you who thought I was going to trade spots with Sheena, April Fools.  Seriously, I felt the urge to write this post after watching the finale, but please come back next week for part 2 of Sheena's epic real life love-story.  Sorry everyone.


  1. I get your point MaryAnn, I do, but it's still makes sense that the fans are sad. I don't think it's because people want a happy ending, I think it's because for nine years they've been teasing and building up to this moment, and then the moment comes, there's finally one hour of how he met their mother, and she's barely in it at all. I think, and this may seem weird, but I think this exact same ending would have been so much better, if Ted turned into Bob Saget. If the real life Ted walked down the street, and saw someone smoking pot, and not eating a sandwich. If there was a real life Barney, who wasn't as insanely good looking, but was just as sad, and then a real life older Robin, in a real life home, with real life dogs only to keep her company, and then a rusted and forgotten blue french horn raised to the sky.

    Tracey the mother was insanely perfect, but of course she would be six years after her death in a story told to his children. But the writer's decided an ending nine years before they saw the characters grow and change, nine years of seeing Robin and Ted not work out with each other, and so they decided to marginalize the mother to a background character to make the Robin ending satisfying. Even on her wedding day, she was the one taking the picture. There was a bar full of people. Ted couldn't say "Hey, can you take this picture," and pull his bride in with him? And that wedding. He had seven years to plan, and this boy who flew around the world to get Robin a necklace, couldn't arrange flowers, or plan a surprise wedding, or invite any of her friends or family, or even bring their children up there, it all has to be just his friends, and Robin wearing an insane dress, and showing up the bride in hers. It's just sad that they broke Ted, that they finally found him a girl who wants marching bands and hot air balloons, and he gives her a creepy rental venue, and mismatched clothes and no flowers. And then she dies, and they never show how long they had together, they don't show her funeral, or his friends rallying around him again to keep him going. They don't show any of the mother's impact on his life, except for her perfect goofiness, and the way she loved everything he did ever, and was happy to die. I wish they went messier, actually. I wish they showed fights, and imperfections, and love that still lasts even after death and grief, but him deciding years and years after he lost her, with his children's permission, to try just one more time.

    That's the ending nine years deserved.

    1. Sheena, I totally get why fans are sad. It was a risky move on the writers’ part, but it still worked for me.

      I agree with you to some extent. I think the series went on too long. It would've been better if it was shorter and more focused. They did spend too much time convincing the audience that Ted and Robin didn't work, so I understand how hard it is to flip that switch. But I still feel the point they were making is that Ted and Robin didn't work at that time, not that they would never work.

      The mother was marginalized in the story. Totally agree with that, but I don't think she was marginalized in Ted's life. Ted didn't need to convince his kids that he loved their mother. They lived it. They knew. I understand why fans would want to see more of that because the show is call How I Met Your Mother, and they had been building to that for nine years. But Ted has always been an unreliable narrator (which are always risky and hard to pull off), and his daughter calls him on it when she points out that this isn't the story of how he met their mother because the mother is hardly even in it. She points out that the mother has been marginalized in the story, and the kids see his true purpose. He is asking them permission to move on with someone who has always been important to him.

      I totally understand why this story doesn't work for everyone. The writers toyed with the audiences' expectations a bit. But I felt that it worked. That it was the only ending that could have tied the whole nine season story together, but that is just me. I have a tendency to like unpopular endings of series. I still feel like the ending of Lost was perfect, but most people talk about that finale as an epic failure. I definitely think I'm in the minority here. :)

      Anyway, thanks for sharing your perspective.

  2. Agreed, I think it was a failure of expectations - and also that if it had been a shorter show, people wouldn't have been so upset. And it also goes to highlight the difficulty with gotcha endings. It's kind of a shame, because there are just a few tweaks they could have done to make both sides a little less full of rage.

    I should note that I've not watched many episodes of the show, but I've seen a few, and I've followed the whole debate over the final season with great interest.

  3. I am not a huge fan of the show, but enjoyed it here and there. Never really felt that Robin loved Ted that much. Ted always seemed more invested in the relationship. I thought Robin and Barney worked because they were so much alike. I love a story of a love that doesn't die and that believe that timing in relationships is just as important (maybe more) then love.


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