To paraphrase Ted and Robin: “Major Warning!” This story contains spoilers about tonight’s final episode of How I Met Your Mother.
Back in 2005 as How I Met Your Mother debuted, I wrote that it was the Lost of sitcoms – a group of people searching for love and identity while marooned on an island. (Have you ever tried to escape Manhattan during rush hour?) There was plenty of time travel, too. And like Lost, the CBS sitcom bowed out controversially, but as many fans predicted.
The Mother – real name: Tracy McConnell – passed away and six years later, Ted is telling his kids the titular story. But his daughter Penny calls him on it: “No. I don’t buy it. That’s not the reason you made us listen to this. This is a story about how you’re totally in love with Aunt Robin and you’re thinking about asking her out and you want to know if we’re okay with it.”
The final moments of the CBS sitcom echoed the first: Robin, long divorced from Barney, ushers five dogs into her apartment while Ted stands outside her window with the infamous blue french horn.
Killing off a main character in the finale (it was ceme – wait for it – tary!) is a gutsy move. Roseanne, for example, was thrashed for killing off her husband, Dan, because most people crave happy endings, especially from a show that was as generally sunny as HIMYM. Understandably, many long-time viewers felt betrayed. Anna Madison (@fireflylantern) Tweeted: “Quite frankly, I never want to see anything HIMYM related again after that massive insult that was the finale.” She, like others, felt they were the victims of a nine-season dupe.
Not me. HIMYM, at its core, was about the unpredictability of love. Love (like Lily’s bangs circa 2016) is difficult; it never comes when and where you expect it. Barney, for example, didn’t find love in a hot tub full of 10 bimbos, but rather with his daughter Ellie born to “Number 31,” the last in a month’s worth of one-night stands. He tells his little girl, “You are the love of my life. Everything I have and everything I am is yours. Forever.” Barney’s declaration, like many other moments – the pangs of friends growing apart, despite promises to the contrary – was truly touching.
Maybe HIMYM was the love story of Ted and Tracy; maybe it was the love story of Ted and Robin. Or maybe it was the love story of a man who was lucky enough to find two loves of his life. (For the record, so did Tracy; it was revealed earlier this season that her fiancé passed away.) In any case, to quote Marshall, “a certain delicate flower cried all night in the shower.”
What did you think of the finale? Do you think Tracy should have lived? Or should Ted have been with Robin all along?
HIMYM Montage: All the Women Who Are Not the Mother