I know I’m two years late to the party and everyone’s moved on, but my wounds are fresh and I need to unload. I didn’t used to get CBS mega-hit How I Met Your Mother. Friends raved about the show but I didn’t think it was funny. Then, recently, I watched a few re-runs with my morning coffees and got hooked. I decided to watch the whole thing on Netflix and enjoyed the ride. But now, post-finale, I feel cheated, angry and confused. The show’s final two-parter has got to be one of the worst send-offs in television history.
I burnt through nine years of “Legen… Wait for it.. Dary”s and sandwiches, watching Jason Segal get fat, skinny and return to normal practically overnight. It’s strange watching five people age so much in a week, really. Cobie Smulders gets better looking. Josh Radnor’s “J.D.” hair gets quiffier and more ridiculous. And Neil Patrick Harris just gets better suits. Getting to know the gang was fun but sadly, the show’s writers decided to undo nine years of heartfelt “Have you met Ted”s in the worst, most spineless way imaginable.
The problem I have with the last episode of How I Met Your Mother is how badly it cheapens and undoes Ted, Barney and Robin’s personal journeys on the show. How much it makes the whole series feel like a complete waste of time, or one big joke. And just how wrong and unsatisfactory it seems.
During the show, serial womaniser and general well-suited scumbag Barney Stintson falls in love with aspiring news anchor – and Ted’s ex – Robin Scherbatsky. He changes his ways, develops a conscience and becomes more likeable, more three-dimensional and human. At one point he even says, “For a long time, deep down I felt sort of, broken. But I don’t feel that way anymore.” It gets pretty heavy. Then, after a drawn-out, 23-episode build up to their wedding, Barney and Robin divorce quicker than Britney Spears and Barney gets a new playbook, returning to his original two-dimensional, caricature persona.
Ted, on the other hand, finally meets Tracy McConnell, the mother of his children and the woman of his dreams. He falls head over heels in love with her and the writers go out of their way to make Tracy cool, likeable and well worth the wait – from her bass guitar to her leather driving gloves. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s played by gorgeous, Grammy winning singer Cristin Milioti.
Of course, soon after she’s introduced Tracy’s killed off by a mystery illness and Ted decides to go all Ross-and-Rachel and win Robin back. With his kids’ blessing he re-steals the blue French horn he swiped for Robin in episode one and shows up on the street outside her flat window. Taking a stab at immortality, he raises the horn over his head like Lloyd Dobler in ’80s classic Say Anything and gives Robin the look.
The problem is, How I Met Your Mother is not Friends. You don’t actually want Ted and Robin to get back together at this stage. They’ve grown apart. They’re incompatible. And Barney and Robin are the perfect couple. Insane, but totally right for each other. Besides, Ted should have ended up with Tracy. That’s the show we signed up for. That’s the show we wanted.
The switch doesn’t even come across as a devious, well-planned twist. It’s just a cheap, tacky and spineless way to wrap up nine years of sentimentality. It’s all so sudden as well, the way it all just happens in an instance – from Ted meeting Tracy and Tracy dying to Robin and Barney getting divorced and Ted Showing up outside Robin’s window feeling horny. The big build up to nothing.
In the wake, Barney’s progress and emotional development is forever crushed by the senseless juggernaut you still can’t believe just tore through the show. Turning it into How I Met Your Aunt Robin and Killed Off Your Uncle Barney Forever.
I still don’t get why you’d throw nearly a decade’s worth of emotional investment under the bus like that, in a failed attempt at being witty, ironic and unpredictable. It’s forced and unnecessary. And in truth, the brave choice would have been the complete opposite.
I can watch Friends episodes over and over but How I Met Your Mother has suddenly become unwatchable, forever lost under a dark cloud of bitterness, disappointment and false tragedy. If only I’d stopped watching five episodes ago…