Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tedding Up the Ending : Thoughts on the "How I Met Your Mother" Series Finale

Last night was the series finale of How I Met Your Mother. Since HIMYM was one of the first TV shows I ever blogged about back on CoIM, I thought it fitting to blog about my thoughts on the highly divisive finale. 

On the one hand, I really enjoyed the bulk of the episode.  I'm glad they didn't drag out the wedding reception through the whole episode, ending with Ted meeting The Mother* at the last minute. I admit I got a little teary-eyed** during his initial good-bye to the gang, even as I knew it wouldn't stick. I liked getting to see The Mother interact with the whole group.  I appreciated the acknowledgment that not all marriages last, and that it is sometimes difficult to watch your friends experience joys that have passed you by. I bought into the idea that the only thing that could change Barney on a fundamental level was becoming a father.  And while it was a little on the nose, the fact that Ted and The Mother immediately discussed their many close encounters was a nice way of selling their acceptance of their joined destiny.

On the other hand . . . if they had cut as soon as Ted finished telling the story to the kids, I would have been happy.  I mean, I would have been even happier if they hadn't killed The Mother off, but still, her death would have been a good enough reason for him to be sharing the story with the kids.  And, its not like there hadn't been hints dropped here and there about her not being around, so I was prepared for it.  I wasn't prepared for a return to the Ted/Robin relationship, which we had just spent a good portion of the season putting to bed for the umpteenth time.  I've grown so frustrated with the resurgence of that pairing over the course of the series when we knew she wasn't destined to be The Mother, that going back to that well one last time was like a punch in the gut.

But the gripping hand is this:  in context of the series as a whole, it makes sense.  I may not like it, or agree with it, but I have to admit that the show-runners stuck to their initial game-plan.  After all, those scenes with the kids calling Ted on his BS and saying that the story was obviously about how he loves Robin?  They were filmed during the very first season.  That means that from the very beginning, the creators knew that The Mother was dead, and that Ted was just trying to work himself up to pursue the other love of his life.  With that in mind, the never-ending Ted/Robin pair-off/break-up/pair-off cycle makes more sense.  In their minds, Ted/Robin was the true end-game, so that's what they wrote towards. Maybe if the show had bowed out gracefully a few years earlier, it wouldn't have rubbed so many people the wrong way; or, maybe we always would have felt cheated at the fact that a show that was ostensibly about Ted meeting one woman was actually about him meeting another. It's really hard to say.  I suppose it boils down to whether you believe that people can have more than one love-of-their-life, and whether you blame the unreliable premise of the unreliable narrator on the character or his creators.

Still, whatever you felt about it, you have to admit:  choosing the douchiest way possible to get his kids' permission to move on is a total Ted move.

*Yes, I know they revealed her name to be Tracy at the end, but really, everyone knows her as The Mother,
**It's been quite a week for emotional TV for me:  a major death and its fallout on The Good Wife, some surprisingly touching moments from Michone and Rick on the finale of Walking Dead, a major character in critical condition on Justified . . . and it's not even Sweeps yet!.