DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead.
After 9 years (and a good chunk of my college memories), the ever-so-popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother has ended. And many mysteries were finally solved – with the exception of the pineapple and the goat (seriously, what’s up with that?).
And of course, with a finale from such a well-loved series comes all sorts of reactions on the opinion spectrum, from downright outrage to tearful bittersweet sighs. From what I’ve seen on social media, the popular response to the HIMYM series finale revolves around the general idea of “WTF” (cue additional profane vocabulary in tones of utter indignation). But I stand by my minority opinion: I love the ending.
Granted, there were moments I found myself disapproving (Barney and Robin’s split after such a touching – almost unrealistic – love story, Day 31 as the dismissive name of Barney’s baby’s mother, the death of the lovable mother – Tracy), but overall, it was truly one of the better series finales I had seen in a while. But after some skimming on my Facebook newsfeed, can I just point out an observation and attach my own response – IF YOU’RE GOING TO BLURT OUT A VEHEMENT RESPONSE ON FACEBOOK, AT LEAST HAVE THE COURTESY TO STATE WHY. Without a WHY, your opinion is simply not valid. It’s a concept that’s been drilled into me ever since I was taught how to write my first essay. No one has access to the thoughts in your brain (for all we know, you might just be one of those backless
individuals subjects who likes to go with the flow/popular sentiment, sorry).
But let’s not focus on that. Let’s move on to the part where I discuss why I didn’t have a problem with the finale. In fact, I quite liked it. It made me both happy and sad, a key element of the sitcom, and it’s what made me love the show in the first place. Honestly, I’m just brimming with appreciation and love for the episode (and the series in its entirety) that I’m not even sure where to start, so bear with me as I gather my scattered thoughts!
The Realism: OK, maybe some parts aren’t quite realistic, but the values that the show presents are indeed relatable. In life, friendships form (sometimes in the most ridiculous and random ways), relationships endure hardships, people grow apart, death happens, break-ups occur, people discover what they really want in life. Basically, things change, and most of the time, it’s out of our control. All these were present in not only tonight’s episode, but also throughout the entire series from the first episode of Season 1. Sometimes, entertainment (TV shows, movies, books, theater) tends to stretch the realistic elements, and perhaps that is what the audiences want from it, but I love that HIMYM kept it relatable. Even though the show is technically classified as a sitcom, I laud the writers for blurring genre boundary lines and exploring different emotions.
The Title: This just might be one of my favorite things about HIMYM. It’s almost genius. Such a twist! Very creative. I can almost say I was mindblown by it. I saw a few comments about how the show cheated itself – how it spent 9 years building up a story of how Ted met his kids’ mother, and in the end, we’re told that the mother dies and that he gets together with Robin. But really, the title is up for open interpretation. Escape your tunnel vision for just one minute. Before tonight’s episode, we were all under the impression that the “Mother” in the title meant the girl with the yellow umbrella, the kids’ biological mother (Tracy). Sure, it was made very clear in the first episode that Robin was not the kids’ mother, but a “mother” doesn’t necessarily have to always mean the birth mother. After tonight’s finale, Robin is also considered the kids’ mother. Stepmother, but nevertheless still a mother.
The show is called How I Met Your Mother – and the show did indeed tell us how Ted met the mother. But as it turns out, that wasn’t the point of the story. Ted may not have known it while he was recounting the tales, but the purpose of the story (and the show) was to ask his kids’ permission for his re-courtship of Robin. Realistically (and here we go with the realistic side of HIMYM again), it would be unbearably uncomfortable to talk to one’s kids about pursuing a woman they’ve known as an aunt for their whole lives, especially with the death of their own mother. So what do you do (subconsciously) to ease the tension? You tell a story. A story long-winded yet crucial in setting some groundwork. In the very first episode, Ted averred that he met this wonderful woman, and that was how he met the kids’ Aunt Robin. It all started when the two looked at each other from across the room (classic romance story opener), and the chemistry never stopped. Building up from that, he relates all these experiences that show Aunt Robin in a positive light, all the while still honoring the memory of the kids’ mother (we’ll just call her Tracy from now on). He makes it very apparent that he will forever love Tracy, the soulmate that the universe brought to him (after all, he spent 9 seasons building up to the moment of how he met her), but in life, death happens, and one must move on (don’t get me wrong; I LOVE Tracy and I was most definitely saddened by the death of her character). From the past 9 seasons, we know that Ted is a classic romantic. The long-winded story of how he met Tracy, the beautiful experiences they had together, and his undeniable chemistry and love for Robin – both platonic and romantic – only adds to that.
Full Circle: It always makes me giddy when I see things come full circle (the jokes from previous seasons, Robin’s dogs, the blue French Horn), because with that also comes closure and bittersweet reminiscing.
My big takeaways from the series finale of How I Met Your Mother? 1) HIMYM gathered so much popularity because of its wittiness. Such an intellectual show of course needs to end with a deeper, meaningful message (think of it as expanding your horizons and exercising your brain. It’s what English majors have to do all the time). 2) Love, regardless of what sort, is a strong, beautiful , enduring force. 3) Life is messy. “Happily ever after” doesn’t necessarily exist for everyone. Sometimes, the things you least expect happen anyway, but things usually happen for a reason.
But of course, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.