Nine season sitcom ends its ‘legendary’ run
| Jay Benedict writer |
Spoiler alert! Reader beware.
It took nine years and 208 episodes, but Ted Mosby finally finished telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. The finale was presented as two episodes with Ted finally meeting the mother near the end of the first half-hour.
“How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM) has been CBS’s Monday night sitcom powerhouse for almost a decade. Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and the writers took full advantage of the time given to them before finally uniting Ted and the mother, a little more literally than expected though.
The series has followed Ted through his various relationships, their development and ultimate conclusion. The writers took their premise seriously in the sense that the entire series was a story of how Ted met the mother and nothing else. Relying on subtle flashes into the future and indirect characterization through interactions with other characters, the writers paved the way with insights, like the “destined” meet up, through the yellow umbrella and the roommate, that helped make it feel like there was something more than random chance at work.
Speaking of taking advantage of time, the entire ninth season was spent building up the moment until Barney and Robin’s wedding. It’s a semi-clever plot device that served the purpose of setting up the moment of meeting the mother by playing out the season “24” style hour-by-hour did build tension and suspense, but to have the entire build up undone within 10 minutes of the second act of the finale just felt like it was all too drawn out and extended by too much filler.
We’ve seen the mother, (Tracy) played by Cristin Milioti, all throughout the final season. She has interacted with every member of the gang besides Ted and through those interactions we gained insight on the type of person she is and why she would finally be “the one,” but we didn’t get to see much of her and Ted’s relationship.
HIMYM has always excelled at showing how getting older changes people’s lives and their outlooks on them. Marshall and Lily’s path is probably the best example. They played the balance between the extremes of Barney and Robin, while also being exactly what Ted wanted: getting married, buying a house, having kids and careers.
Ted is the crux of the series and he’s been a representative of millennials trying to find their way; he makes the struggle of being in your mid-20’s and early 30’s seem doable.
The main demographic of HIMYM was 18-49 year olds. This audience is facing or has faced the obstacles Ted encounters; a series of decisions with some of them ending up as “What ifs.”
An example: for the entire duration of the series, Robin or Ted spent time infatuated with the other. This infatuation was never more apparent than during the final season when Ted went farther than any rational person would to find Robin’s locket and he finally decided to move halfway across the country to get away from Barney and Robin’s relationship. Robin, herself, stated that she should have ended up with Ted in the lead up to the finale.
The writers use divorce and cancer as the means to bring Ted and Robin together again.
The issue with the whole finale lies in the pacing, but that also its strength, in a way. The final half hour spans two decades. We see the inevitable: a tight group of friends falls apart under the weight of relationships, children and careers. It hits home, but all happens too fast.
Barney’s whole multi-year arc of character development goes by the wayside, only to be saved by another inevitable: his hundreds of trysts end with a child. The stats don’t lie. Robin still has the same issues with balancing her career and relationships that she did in the first season. Ted settles for second best, albeit, it a girl who can and will give him children.
It all just seems too calculated. Ted wants and needs children. Robin can’t and doesn’t want to provide that. The mother provides an appropriate surrogate and distraction while Robin slowly grows lonely, gets more dogs and realizes that she doesn’t need a Barney; she needs a Ted.
In the end, the kids (whose scenes were filmed nine years ago and have been sworn to secrecy since) saw through Ted’s story; saying that this wasn’t the story of how Ted met their mother, but of his love for Robin. The premiere episode a decade ago saw Ted steal Robin a blue French horn. The final scene showed the same thing. It served as an excellent bookend to the series, but in a way also made all the time between seem like a diversion from the inevitable…if you’re a Ted and Robin fan you’ll love the finale. If you were hoping for a grand love story between Ted and the mother, you’ll be disappointed.