**MAJOR HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER SPOILERS IN THIS POST**
I was totally not planning on writing this post today…but after what happened last night, I have way too many thoughts that just need to be said. If only so that I can get it all down on paper and finally stop thinking about it in my head. So, please, totally go ahead and read this, but I’m just letting you know that this rant is mostly for me, not you guys.
My How I Met Your Mother Background
Let’s start with some background: I’ve been a die-hard How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) fan for a really long time. I didn’t start watching it live when it first aired, because I wasn’t allowed to watch prime-time television until I went to college (my parents were weirdly strict about a few specific things), and then I didn’t have access to cable in my college dorm room, but I religiously downloaded the episodes from iTunes and kept up with it until I finally started watching it live a couple of years ago.
Now, when I say that I’m a “die-hard fan”…I mean that I’m a die-hard fan. I’ve watched each episode many, many times. I’d say at least 30 times for each episode in seasons 1-5 and maybe 10-20 times each for the episodes in seasons 6-9.
I know that I must sound absolutely crazy right now…so let me explain. Back in high school, I developed the awful habit of falling asleep with the TV on. I tried to quit, but for some reason, I just couldn’t do it. I’ve had problems with really bad insomnia since I was 4 years old, so at some point I just said “fuck it” and figured that anything that even remotely helped me fall asleep was doing more help than harm. But when I went to college, I couldn’t exactly watch TV while falling asleep (because I had a roommate), so I switched to an alternative — watching HIMYM on my iPod with headphones. So, every night for the past 5 years, I’ve watched, on average, at least 2 episodes a night (since, because of the insomnia, it still sometimes takes me a while to fall asleep). Because of that…I’ve seen a lot of HIMYM.
So, suffice it to say, I was pretty geared up for the big finale. I completely put my trust into the producers of the show, because almost every part of the last 9 seasons has been amazing…and then they just tore my heart to pieces.
Okay, I don’t want to get too carried away yet, so let’s start with what I did like about the finale:
I enjoyed getting to see the gang in the future. I think that they might’ve overdone it on the flash-forwards a bit, but it was nice to have some closure about all of the things that happen after Barney and Robin’s wedding, up until 2030.
As much as I have been shipping Robin and Barney since season 3, I was actually fine with the fact that their relationship ended up in a divorce. Let’s be honest with ourselves…they never would’ve worked as a couple in real life. So I’m glad that the producers decided to go the realistic route with them. It would’ve been nice for them to have their happily ever after, but I would’ve always known in the back of my head that they never really would’ve made it.
I also liked the fact that Barney was able to become a dad and finally grow up. I was really disappointed thinking that Barney might end up with Robin and they’d never have kids. From the time that Barney’s brother had his first child in season 2, I just had a feeling that Barney would be a great dad, and I’m glad that he didn’t have to miss out on that. And I think it’s, again, realistic that he would’ve gained a child through one of his blonde bimbo exploits. I mean…I’m surprised that he doesn’t have, like, 30 bastard children roaming around New York City by now.
So, those were the positives. Now let’s talk about what I didn’t like (which is basically everything else):
I did not like the fact that they shoved the entire wrap-up to the show into one tiny hour. A lot happens in the finale, and I think that, instead, they should’ve cut a few of the episodes from the “before-the-wedding” part of the season and given maybe 1-2 more episodes to the “after” part. Everything felt really rushed, and I wasn’t able to completely enjoy it because, the whole time, I was just trying to catch up with all that was happening and deal with my emotions about it; there wasn’t really time to process everything.
I also did not like that Robin was barely in the episode. While I really like Robin as a character objectively, I don’t feel that, in the majority of season 9, she was ready to be in a relationship with Ted. She needed to do some soul-searching and some growing up, just like Barney. When she’s about to marry Barney, she recognizes that Ted is quite obviously the better man, but is in love with Barney, so she chooses to stick with the plan to marry him instead of running off with Ted (not to mention that Ted admits that he doesn’t have feelings for her “in that way” anymore…more on that later).
In the finale, there’s a span of 16 years between Robin and Barney’s wedding and when Ted ends up with the blue french horn outside her window (again), and they presumably end up together in 2030. So, yes, I’m sure she did experience that independence she’d always yearned for in her travels all around the world, and I’m sure that she did grow up some more, but we don’t get to see that transformation happen at all, so it was hard to believe in it.
And while the scene with Robin and Ted in Central Park, looking for her necklace, made me cry and get really emotional about their relationship, I’ve still felt, for quite a long time, that they were not meant to be. Robin constantly takes advantage of Ted. Or, at least, doesn’t appreciate him as much as she should. Ted consistently goes way out of his way to make Robin happy in the littlest ways because he cares about her so much, but she never reciprocates and instead they continue on being friends even though Ted has feelings for her and she doesn’t have feelings for him. So while I always thought that Ted and Robin were sweet together, I way more was shipping her with Barney than with Ted for a very long time. And when they were finally brought together again…instead of being able to be happy for them, I was just confused.
Did Robin suddenly fall in love with him? Why did Ted tell Robin he didn’t love her anymore if clearly he still does? Does his feelings about Robin invalidate his relationship with Tracy at all? How was he able to fully love Tracy with all of those feelings for Robin buried in the back of his mind the whole time? Has Robin really grown up and realized that Ted is the man for her? What changed? How is she different now than she was before?
Those questions don’t get answered, because we don’t get to see Robin basically at all for most of the finale. We don’t get to see her grow and change, we are just supposed to assume that everything works out okay without proof. And I wasn’t really okay with that! I was not shipping them in season 9, so how was I supposed to suddenly go from thinking that they didn’t belong together to accepting that they will live happily ever after if we don’t get to see them interact at all for basically the entirety of 16 years?
Another problem with Ted and Robin ending up together is that I was so happy with Tracy’s character. From the second we saw her boots walk across the screen, I knew that she was the one for Ted. She was perfect, in literally every way. She fit right into the group, she was hilarious and unique. Such an amazing partner for Ted…and they found the most awesome actress to portray it all! I adored watching the flashbacks and flash-forwards throughout season 9 and seeing them grow their family and relationship together. Finally, there was no doubt in my mind. This was what Ted had been looking for…not Robin. She was so much better than Robin in so many ways. Don’t get me wrong, I love Robin. But Tracy fit Ted like a glove. So, to go from that back to Robin? It felt like Ted got second place. And what was I watching this show for nine seasons for, if it wasn’t to watch Ted finally get first?
They also focused for maybe like 10 seconds on the fact that Tracy got sick and died. I mean…what did she even have? Cancer? We will never know. She certainly didn’t even look sick in that hospital bed. And we didn’t even get to see the funeral! Or Ted being sad after she died. Or the gang all coming back for that “big moment” of Ted’s wife dying. I just don’t get it. The last 5 minutes of the show was basically like, “oh, okay, so yeah, Ted’s wife is dead and now he’s going to be with Robin. And oh, by the way, his kids are totally fine with it.”
I thought that was so weird, too. Like, I know it’s been six years since she died, but the kids are basically shoving him out the door to go be with Robin. I thought it was strange that they didn’t even spend .01 seconds saying something like, “Dad, we all love and miss Mom, and she was a great wife and mother, but you know, it’s totally okay if you want to date other people now.” No, it was just all excitement that he was finally going to be with Aunt Robin. And it didn’t seem…real? Or very nice. I had grown to love Tracy’s character so much over this last season. They could’ve spent a little bit more time mourning her than that. It just felt so cheap.
Ultimately, I’m not sad about how everything ended up. Ted’s wife dying was disappointing, but it was respectably realistic, and I do think that he and Robin could’ve turned into a good couple, as long as Robin has grown and changed as we (I guess) are supposed to assume that she did. The upsetting thing was how they handled it.
I had so much faith in these producers, and they just completely bulldozed over my (and a lot of other people’s) feelings. I couldn’t even cry (happy or sad tears…which I had fully expected to come either way, but didn’t), because I was so shocked and disappointed. If they were going to do what they did…it needed to have been done a heck of a lot more gracefully. Time needed to be spent on the important moments that, instead, flew by inappropriately fast.
All in all, I’m trying not to let my feelings about the finale ruin the amazing experiences I had with the rest of the series, and I’m actually interested in going back and watching it all again (for the millionth time), having now realized why they chose to end it like they did (after reading this illuminating article), but I’m still incredibly surprised and, honestly, a little mad about how it all played out in the end. I’m not sure why exactly they chose to shove so much at us at once instead of slowly allowing us to grow to love the true ending over a few episodes, but it was the wrong choice and it will probably be a long long time, if ever, until I will trust a TV show to safely carry me into the land of “after” again.