I’ve noticed that several people across the internet are unhappy with the bad reviews coming out regarding the series finale of How I Met Your Mother (mine included). So I have decided to follow the example of Craig Thomas and Carter Bays who have taught me that if a vocal portion of your audience wants something, it’s your responsibility to abandon all the integrity of your project and give them exactly that. So here is my glowing review of the final episode of How I Met Your Mother:
The How I Met Your Mother series finale will go down in the annals of time as one of the greatest finales in the history of television. I know what you’re thinking: you’ve heard much differently and the only people defending this finale are deluded fans who will rationalize every terrible decision because A) they got the Ted/Robin ending they wanted and they don’t care how they got there or B) they can’t bring themselves to admit they wasted nine years on a show that ended on a note that was a complete and utter betrayal of the tone that had been established long ago. If that’s what you think, you would be wrong. Those who recognize the finale for the breathtakingly bold and brilliant masterpiece that it was are just far more adept at enjoying smart, adventurous television than you are.
Chances are, you have read many comments from those praising the finale for reflecting real life; sometimes people do, in fact, die, leaving their spouse alone and on a search to find love once again. They get it, I tell you. If there is one thing that the How I Met Your Mother captured is the gritty realism of having your heart trampled and emotions toyed with by the same woman for an unspeakable number of years, sabotaging an endless parade of relationships in hopes of being with her, finally finding the woman that you believe to be the woman of your dreams only to have her die about a decade (and two kids) later and then returning to the previous woman after telling your children a sordid tale revealing that your heart has belonged to said woman the entire time. They didn’t remotely trivialize Tracy (the mother) by fast-forwarding through their time together in a way that suggested she was merely a pit stop on Ted’s journey to glorious Robin-ville and thank God she died because can you imagine if he had to spend his whole life married to that silver medal? At no point did the show feel like it was completely undermining the groundwork it had laid celebrating soul mates and destiny and true love by treating the mother as an inconvenient plot point so that Ted could run back to Robin with the blue French horn at the end of the episode. It felt real and moving and beautiful. Fantastic work. Truly some of the best television I’ve ever had the honor of watching.
As the debate wears on, we fearless defenders of this legendary finale are happy to remind you that the moral of the story is Ted loved the Mother, but Robin was The One. And for anyone that would dare suggest that this undoes years of character revelation and development, I pity your ignorance. All of the times that Ted and Robin tried to date only to have it end disastrously and realize time and time again that they weren’t right for each other; that was obviously just a red herring. Although they had different aspirations and goals that kept them apart, Bays and Thomas were able to write a glorious love story about two people who finally find right timing after Ted uses Tracy as a baby making machine to get the two kids that he wants that Robin doesn’t and Robin achieves tremendous success in her field only to discover that she can never truly be fulfilled without a man. A man named Ted Mosby. It’s a love story for the ages. Even Tracy understood that and she died so she could get out of the way and let Ted fill the hole in Robin’s heart that chasing her dreams and accomplishing all the things she could hope to accomplish never could and Robin could fill the hole in Ted’s heart now that Tracy had served her purpose of incubating two children for this remarkable man. I’m getting teary eyed just reflecting on the sheer beauty of it all.
I know this is going to come as a startling shock, but there are even some that suggest that the finale was doomed within the first ten minutes when we found out that after spending an entire season watching Barney and Robin get married, their union was undone in the blink of an eye. Their marriage only lasted ten minutes and some unenlightened fools have the nerve to suggest that this is an insult to the audience and completely destabilizes any and all character development those characters had endured in the past few seasons. Listen, just because we had seen the point driven home time and time again that Barney’s love for Robin was enough to make him leave his womanizing ways behind and become a doting husband with a knack for elaborate (although, often offensively deceitful) romantic gestures and that despite Ted and Robin’s chemistry, she would find more happiness with him because they just saw the world in such a similar way doesn’t mean that we were supposed actually take any stock in that.
I mean, seriously, it’s unbelievable how some people watch TV. They think that just because we see characters go through significant changes throughout the course of a years-long arc, the showrunners have to have the decency to not unravel all those developments just so they can shoe-horn the audience’s favorite couple together in an absurdly contrived fashion. If that’s what you think, you clearly just don’t understand television.
Other naysayers point to the reaction of the kids as feeling disingenuous. Are you kidding me? How heartless are you? What kids would not want to see their father happy? They have just been treated to a wonderful tale of how they dad met their dead mom while realizing that he was simply playfully exploiting the sentimentality surrounding their dead mom and using the story as a Trojan horse to reveal to them that he wants to get back with their “aunt Robin”; how could they not be thrilled to give him their blessing? You people who want to say this makes a mockery of Ted’s relationship with the mother and the story we’ve been hearing him tell for nine years or is a cheap stunt that feels like a middle finger to the audience clearly don’t understand a gorgeous, heartfelt ending when you see one.
Anyone would do what Ted did. It’s awkward talking to your kids about dating again after your wife dies tragically, so of course you’re gonna tell them a story that pretends to be about how she was your one true love but it’s really a story about how much you loved and pined for their Aunt Robin for years and years and now that you’ve had a nice detour with their mother and she died and Robin’s still single you’d really to get back with her. It’s just sweet and their support touched my heart. You see, they don’t mind that their dad was (probably) inviting aunt Robin over for dinner before their mom’s body was even cold and flirting with her while they sat and watched at the table because they are understanding kids and just want dear old Dad to be happy. I think Tracy would be happy too. In fact, they should have showed them getting married at the cemetery by her grave so she could be present at the wedding; she would have wanted that. They could hold the reception there and use her grave as the dancefloor; I think it’s clear that’s the one thing this finale was missing.
Look, if you don’t like this finale it’s clearly because you took the title of the show too literally or it wasn’t exactly the ending that YOU wanted. Geez, how selfish and dumb of you. Yes, the show is called How I Met Your Mother, but how brainless do you have to be to expect the mother to be the point of the show? Those of us who really “get it” could see that this was a story about Robin and although as Ted told stories of countless heartbreaks and obstacles, he continued to celebrate fate and destiny and the universe that gave him the strength to finally make it to the love of his life, obviously it wasn’t for his WHOLE life. Some of you just hate when people die on TV but guess what? People die. And just because Ted and Robin spent most of their twenties and thirties being toxic for each other doesn’t mean that having him shrug off his dead wife and go running back to her in the final scene isn’t a fairytale ending. It really does break my heart that some people hold this view; they just don’t understand love.
Thank you Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for not caring about coming across as cheap and manipulative and for being willing to put Ted and Robin together in the end, even if it completely diminishes the entire concept of the show. I will continue to loudly rationalize every ham-fisted creative choice you made and turn a blind eye to how sickeningly twisted the whole thing really is. Because I loved it and I loved How I Met Your Mother and no matter what anybody says, you guys know how to make a great finale! Thank you for nine great years. I don’t feel remotely ripped off or slighted or like you abandoned any hope of quality so that you could give us the ending many wanted although it completely destroyed so many other wonderful things about the show. I can’t imagine anyone feeling that way. The finale was great. I can’t express that enough. So, thank you.
Give yourself a big, hearty round of applause; I mean it–you guys deserve it! Here’s how much applause you deserve: keep applauding until your hands fall off and you can never write another episode of television again.
UPDATE: This week’s podcast features a pretty colorful debate over the finale; check it out HERE