There’s a lot of talk right now about the final season of Game of Thrones, and a Twitter user that I’ve since lost track of was asking for shows that fucked up the ending, and almost everyone listed How I Met Your Mother. Thing is, I don’t think HIMYM fucked up the ending, they fucked up the road to the ending. Here’s the post I made on the old LiveJournal blog in December 2016 on the subject.
There’s a meme going around Facebook asking for ten unpopular opinions. It’s been interesting to see people opine about stuff — and the meme dictates that the opinions all be non-political, which means the subsequent discussions haven’t been nasty — and I decided to participate. But I was lazy, and only listed two similar opinions, to wit, that The Walking Dead and The Matrix are overrated claptrap whose mass appeal is incomprehensible to me. These opinions should not surprise anyone, as I’ve been up-front about my dislike for both all along, and I dissed TWD on The Chronic Rift podcast back in December 2011 when the first season ended, and I eviscerated The Matrix back when I finally saw it on HBO in April 2000.
However, my dear friend Stevie Williams mentioned that she never liked either Friends or How I Met Your Mother. I agree with her on the former, but actually adored the latter, as I thought the writing craft on that show was brilliant and superior to most of what you get on television, and certainly superior to almost any sitcom.
But it reminded me of a rant I’d been meaning to post since HIMYM ended and never did…..
The ending of the show came in for a lot of shit, with a lot of people dissing it and hating it and loathing it and ripping it to pieces. I think the dissatisfaction with that ending is why the show has fallen right out of the zeitgeist.
Thing is, the ending was perfect. It was absolutely the right ending for the show.
Having said that, I totally get why people don’t like the ending, and it’s the true reason why the show failed:
It got renewed for a ninth season.
If the show had ended after eight seasons, the ending would’ve been the perfect wrap-up. The collapse of Robin and Barney’s marriage, the progression of Ted and The Mother’s relationship, Barney discovering fatherhood, The Mother’s death, and Ted and Robin winding up together all would have worked perfectly.
But they came back for season nine, and they spent the entirety of season nine on Robin and Barney’s wedding. Prior to that ninth season, Barney and Robin’s relationship was on-again/off-again, tumultuous, and problematic. It could’ve worked, but it could just as easily not have worked. Going straight from the wedding in the penultimate episode of season eight to the one-hour ending would’ve worked.
Instead, we spent more than twenty episodes chronicling Barney and Robin’s wedding weekend. By the time we got to “The End of the Aisle,” we’d spent six months living with that wedding weekend. We were heavily invested in that wedding weekend, which made us heavily invested in Barney and Robin as a couple.
So to trash it in an hour came across as a betrayal. To put Robin together with Ted just didn’t make sense because the entire ninth season was dedicated to the rightness of Robin and Barney as a couple.
The thing is — Ted and Robin winding up together was the way the story was set up to end back from the very first episode. As Ted’s kids said (in a sequence that Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie filmed back in 2006 during the second season of the show, saved for the finale), the story that Ted told over the course of the show’s run wasn’t really about how he met their mother, it was about Ted’s life with Robin. That started with the pilot episode in which we think the story is about how Ted met their mother and is in fact about how he met Robin. Robin has been the fulcrum of Ted’s life throughout the run of the show, and having them get together at the end, and having the true reason for him telling the story to them in 2030 being to get their permission to date Robin now that their mother is dead, makes perfect story sense.
And if the show had ended in season eight, everyone would probably have realized that……….