Kids, let me tell you the story of how nine years of pretty solid television was undone in a catastrophic forty five minutes of nonsense…
Did I lose a slap bet to Carter Bays and Craig Thomas? Because it feels like it. How I Met Your Mother, one of my favourite TV shows signed off last Monday night with it’s long-awaited series finalé. Fans had waited for years and years to see Ted Mosby finally meet the mother of his children and we did. However, we also got the ending that nobody wanted to see. Ted still somehow ended up with Robin.
I never anticipated that the final episode could go so horribly wrong but it did and for several different reasons; Firstly, the swift and lazy dismantling of Robin and Barney’s marriage was thoroughly unsatisfying. The viewers had spent the last three or four seasons accepting that Robin and Barney, and the vast majority felt Barney was the best match for Robin. Even those who did prefer Robin and Ted’s relationship seemingly accepted that they were destined for other people. However, Robin and Barney ran in to one small spot of bother and poof, they were divorced. The problem of travelling too much is easily repairable but instead they split. We then must question why on earth we had to sit through twenty two tedious and quite frankly below par episodes based around the weekend of their wedding, only for them to break up ten television minutes afterwards.
What was even more upsetting was the undoing of Barney’s transformation. For years, viewers had watched Barney evolve from an insatiable conniving ladies’ man in to a devoted husband who chose love over an endless string of one night stands. Even if they had to split him and Robin up, they didn’t have to make him return to his sleazy ways. But in truth, Barney ending up with Robin made sense – two people with emotionally distant or physically distant fathers, hardened and immune to love, coming together and living the happy home life they scarcely got as youngsters. But that was torn apart by Bays and Thomas to make way for Ted, to have two loves of his life and have Barney shafted with a rashly thought through consolation of a love child.
Robin’s character too was tarnished by the episode. Robin
is was actually my favourite character because she uprooted stereotypical women on sitcoms. She wasn’t needy and lovelorn and desperate to settle in to traditional married life. Instead she was strong-willed, empowered, career driven and hardy. Well, that was true until the finalé, where we’re supposed to believe that she spent years and years pining after a man who’s neediness Robin surely couldn’t stand nor logically be harmonious with.
It wasn’t only that Barney and Robin ending up together seemed so right, it’s also that Ted and Robin being together seemed so wrong. For years, Robin and Ted engaged in a thoroughly exhausting on again off again relationship. We had seen why they were incompatible despite their strong connection and as harsh as it was, it made sense – it was real, it was authentic. We saw them both hold an unrequited love for the other but the romance ran it’s course. We were led to believe that Robin had moved on, and even Ted did eventually. The viewers were comfortable knowing that although they were good together, they both had their ‘true loves’ to come in Barney and the Mother.
And speaking of the mother, how bad was her treatment in the show’s ultimate episode? The fans spent nine long years waiting to meet Ted’s perfect woman, year after year they theorised and built up their collection of clues to try and untangle the mystery behind this perfect woman that would finally save Ted from the wilderness years of unfulfilling singledom. But no, instead she was treated like a rented womb. It was bad enough that she had only appeared in half of season nine’s episodes but having her die, and in the manner she did was nigh on ridiculous. This was the titular character that fans had waited for – and she just croaked in a hospital bed. There was barely even a touching monologue where Ted had to let go, just “Your mother is sick…she died. Now, I can go back to screwing my best friend’s ex-wife.” The fans had grown to love her, she fit the group well and she was perfect for Ted. Her fate seemed unjust and simply wrong. Having her become a side note to Robin was the ultimate insult to her character. Why was the show given this title anyway?
Many took to Twitter to air their disbelief and dissatisfaction at the show’s poorly thought out climax. However a scattering of ‘HIMYM hipsters’ profess that those not happy with the ending merely didn’t get the meaning of the show. Which is nonsense, given the title and the creators’ comments about Ted and Robin in Season One; “this isn’t the love story we set out to tell.” – which evidently was a lie. Even Cobie Smulders said that the finale was “beautiful” and “true to real life” but I for one am struggling to see what is more true to life about having your wife die and then going after your best friend’s ex-wife, who is already your twice failed girlfriend. Surely, it’s more true to life that Ted only had a working relationship with the Mother and not Robin. Despite their connection, it sometimes just doesn’t work out between people for one reason or another. Surely that’s the truth? Instead of that, Ted got two great loves, Barney got none and the Mother got a long, arduous, untimely death.
I don’t buy in to the fact that the closing scenes with Ted’s kids being filmed in 2006 dictated the show’s ending. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas should have known better than to let that alter the show’s climax. Whether or not they were reluctant to change their mind, they should have realised that ending just simply didn’t work with what How I Met Your Mother had evolved in to over the last nine years. And as a result, fans are disillusioned, reluctant to re-watch the show and a little bit heartbroken that the characters and story they had become so invested in was offered such a cheap and bathetic climax.