Humans like predictability. As much as people like to say, “I’m up for anything” while they are swept up in a Bud Light commercial full of rock bands and Don Cheadle with what looks to be an alpaca in an elevator, at our core I believe we are comforted by what we know for certain. By the notion that every day, no matter what happens, some things will always be the same. For example, I always know what to expect from In ‘N Out Burger. No matter what else is going on in my life, that Double Double is consistently delicious. But, if I ordered a burger and got, say, a grilled cheese in return, the whole situation is in free fall. “What kind of idiot gave me this ridiculous burger without meat?” I might fume. I wouldn’t be outraged because I got a grilled cheese. In fact, I love a good grilled cheese. I’d be outraged because I didn’t get what I expected. But if I got two servings of piping hot fries instead of the one I ordered, then, as Emmet would say, everything is awesome. “Best day of my life!” I would think, as I devoured my extra french fries. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What the hell does In ‘N Out Burger have to do with How I Met Your Mother? About as much as Don Cheadle has to do with beer, on the surface. But I needed a metaphor, and because of my fondness for delicious burgers and fries, In ‘N Out made an odd, late night snack kind of sense. So here comes the point: I thought I knew what to expect from How I Met Your Mother’s series finale. Instead, as I watched the show take its last bow, I sat in shock as the final moments did not go according to plan. At all. Initially, the twist angered me, but after a much needed emotional cool down I realized that we all should’ve seen it coming.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T SEEN THE FINALE
So once again the Internet was right. The Mother died (Google it, rumors have been swirling around the Internet for weeks now). But, I don’t think anyone expected what happened next. Ted’s kids called him out. This wasn’t a story about their mother. She was barely in it. They correctly point out that the whole glorious tale was about Robin. The show ends with Ted stealing that blue french horn one last time and standing outside Robin’s window as she looks down on his upturned face.
For viewers (well I can’t speak for all of us, so let’s start over)…For me, at least, the twist was a sucker punch. Straight to the heart. Ted meets The Mother, they fall in love, they live happily ever after, and no one dies. That’s what’s supposed to happen. I’ve spent 9 seasons, two hundred-something episodes, waiting for this guy to finally meet and marry the girl of his dreams. I deserve the happy ending. The kids deserve the happy ending. They’ve only spent nine years listening to their Dad drone on about all his relationships. It’s how this works. All I wanted as a viewer was to see the end of the the romantic story I’ve invested God only knows how many hours of my life into. It was my promised reward. How could they take that away from me. From us?
The answer came very quickly.
HIMYM was never about doing things by the book. It was never the cliched Romantic Fairytale where everything works out perfectly, despite the oh-so-romantic premise, and the many genuinely fairy-tale situations we encountered along the way. The reason we fell in love with the show in the first place was because it was so different than standard TV rom-coms. We should’ve known that the story was not going to end as we predicted, as much as we wanted it to.
From its very first episode, How I Met Your Mother signaled to viewers that they were taking a different path. After leading us through a thoroughly charming though ultimately average pilot, the show pulled off its first twist. Future Ted tells the kids “And that is how I met your Aunt Robin.”
“Aunt Robin?!” both the on screen kids and the audience responded. This was supposed to be The Mother. As an audience, we were hooked. That’s the moment How I Met Your Mother distinguished itself as something more than a trashy CBS sitcom. From there, we went on an journey with Ted. We thought we knew where this journey would end up, just like we thought we knew that Robin was the mother during the first episode. But both times, we were dead wrong.
That’s why we should’ve seen it coming. After all, the kids have a point when they say the show is hardly even about The Mother. It’s really always been about Ted and Robin. That’s where everything started, and how we, and the characters on the show, became a group that grew into a strange, hilarious, wonderful family. Of course that’s where it ended. Full circle.
Whether Ted and Robin are truly meant for each other is another story. It will be fun to argue for years about whether Ted would’ve been better with The Mother (if she wasn’t dead, of course), but that’s beside the point. It’s not for me to say whether this was the best possible ending, or to express my dismay over not getting my Double Double, but rather to point out that from the start HIMYM was never something that could be easily predicted. Looking back, the fact that we thought everything was going to go according to plan is pretty laughable. We really should’ve known that the show had one last twist to pull off before finishing its run. And grilled cheese is pretty darn tasty, too.
MORE FINALE THOUGHTS
-After this and Psych, I need Parks and Rec and Community to last at least another two seasons before I’m emotionally ready to say goodbye to them.
-How impressive is it that the actors that played Ted’s kids kept the last twist a secret for so long. That scene where they tell Ted to ask out Robin was filmed seven years ago. SEVEN YEARS AGO!!! They didn’t tell anyone in seven years? That’s absolutely insane. Honestly, that’s the most shocking part of the finale, to me anyway.
-Barney and the baby was probably the best scene of the finale, Neil Patrick Harris is absolutely incredible. Barney is going to be a great Dad. I can’t believe I just said that. A close second goes to Barney’s epiphany when he decides to set Ted up with The Mother. Absolutely hilarious and awesome.
-In my opinion, Ted and The Mother had a chemistry and an innate perfection to their relationship that I never got from Ted and Robin. This could be because I knew, or thought I knew, that Robin and Ted couldn’t end up together, so I never liked them as a pair. Especially not as much as Ted and The Mother. Part of me will always want that fairytale ending. I guess they did have it for a while there, just not forever. Stupid Disney fairytales, making me want a happily ever after.
ON A VERY PERSONAL NOTE…
-I owe so much to this show. I remember one night last year I sat and watched HIMYM, and got so mad about what was happening on screen I immediately took my computer and started to write. I wrote furiously, avoiding homework and meals until I thought it was ready, then I published the first post on this blog: (Why HIMYM’s Storytelling Gamble Is Hurting The Show). As if everything else wasn’t enough, I definitely want to thank HIMYM for that. Here’s an update to that opinion, by the way. The show definitely came into its own during the latter half of season 9, but boy that first half was bad. I’m still trying to forget that Marshall spent about 12 episodes in a Yellow Hummer. Bur no matter how much I critique or praise the show, at the end of the day these characters are family to us viewers, and I wanted to say one last Thank you to Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney for one hell of a ride, and one incredible TV show. Thank you for the catchphrases, for the playbook, for a musical number in praise of suits, for the unsolved pineapple mystery, for millions of Canada jokes, and for keeping us laughing for all these years. I don’t care if it’s weird to say this about TV characters or not, but I love you guys. The story you shared with us was truly Legendary.