Picking up the pieces of How I Met Your Mother’s finale


#1

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#2

While not a perfect gem (it was way too sprawling to be that), I was pretty impressed with the finale. The marriage of Barney & Robin always felt wrong to me, and I was glad that the writers showed the divorce that seemed inevitable. I’m long past wanting Ted & Robin to be a couple, but I can appreciate the narrative neatness of it.

I wish that the last season had allowed Ted’s wife to meet him and to be part of the gang for while in a non-jump forward/backward sort of way (though, again, I do admire the narrative hoops that were jumped through). I also would like details about Barney’s “#31” and his relationship with her (do they become a couple?). Also, I felt like the ball was dropped on Bob Saget’s voice overs… I always took the fact that Ted’s voice is different in the narrative and in the framing of it to be a sign that he’s an unreliable narrator (which is backed up by the show in many, many ways). So shouldn’t he have had Bob’s voice when he finally finished the story and had a dialogue with his kids?


#3

I’m just really glad it ended, no matter how it ended. I enjoyed some of it years ago, watched it when there were absolutely no other options as of late, but it went on long after its expiration date. This is definitely a show, in my opinion, that didn’t leave the audience wanting for more, different maybe, but not more. It would be nice if syndication had somewhat of a delay, so that we could look back and say, oh yeah, that show was fun at some point.


#4

I have never been completely happy with how the show turned into “how Barney and I took turns sleeping with your aunt Robin”, but I really didn’t like the chirpy way the kids more or less said “forget Mom, she’s been dead for ages now. It’s your turn to sleep with Robin again.”

It was awkward, in multiple ways. I had assumed they filmed multiple scenes of ending dialogue with the kids, to keep their options open and avoid spoilers. If they really only had one ending in mind all along, and it was that one, then I wish they hadn’t bothered.


#5

I, too, appreciate the narrative neatness of the ending. But, unfortunately, they didn’t do a very good job of setting up that neatness. From my perspective, the writers spent way too much time convincing me to like the Robin/Barney coupling, demonstrating Barney’s growth as a person, and demonstrating Ted’s growth into somebody who is over fantasizing about Robin … and then just kind of dropped all that for the sake of narrative neatness.

Where this finale fails, it fails because of a problem with a lot of American TV … putting open-ended requirements on shows that should not be open-ended and aren’t open-ended by narrative nature. I wish that TV writers here had the freedom that they have in England to decide “this is how long this show will last” and have the network stick with it. If this ending had been the ending 3, or 4, or 5 seasons ago, it would have felt a lot more natural and less unfair to the characters.


#6

As long as it is gone, I am happy.


#7

I’ve been reading the largely negative reviews of the How I Met Your Mother Finale, and what strikes me about them is their use of the equation as the primary metaphor for explaining what went wrong: that somehow, for example, the quick ending of Robin and Barney’s relationship negated the (admittedly) overdrawn buildup to their wedding.

But the deployment of that metaphor is perhaps precisely what the finale - and the show - works against. Whether it be the grand statement repeated throughout the seasons - that every relationship matters, that you can’t just skip to the one that works - to the more precise principle behind, say, Barney’s actions throughout the finale - in which his begging his friends to accept him as he is and allowing him to change in his own time in that poignant moment with the baby only works because we can’t ignore how hard he tried for Robin - the show has worked hard to dissuade us of Barney’s perspective: that relationships are meaningless until you’ve found the one you can’t avoid, where there’s no “progression” of character, only other situations to react to that ultimately happen in the sitcom-y out of time state. (In that sense, the finale addresses many of the complaints about how Barney became the main character rather than Ted: the show became, for at least one season, his sitcom, and it gave us a sitcom-ish ending for him).

To think that Ted asking Robin out after a life with the mother negates the really strong moments in the episode with the mother is to oversimplify: it’s to fail to see that relationships can’t negate, they only build. That love is messy, and complicated, and is precisely not like a sitcom insofar as the end of a relationship doesn’t mark the eternal end to that relationship: people’s needs and desires change, old lovers become friends or lovers again. That’s true of the generation growing up in such an interconnected world. Such is true of Ted’s favorite book, which he reads both on the train platform and to the mother in her hospital bed: Love in the Time of Cholera. The book describes a love which occurs before and after a perfectly good, life-long relationship, challenging the reader to surrender the sense that love is valuable because it only happens once: that it can be beautiful multiple times in one’s life.

The railing against what seems like a typical sitcom ending, in which people end up with who they are supposed to, can only be reached by actually skipping over everything that happened in the show: in essence, by presupposing that it ends in a sitcom-ish way. Ted’s kids don’t need to know more about the mother; she was their mother. But we can see, in that scene on the train platform, the potential and the completeness of that relationship. I agree that the pacing may have been poor, but what would the alternative have been? To draw the relationship between Ted and the mother out, and then to kill her off? Wouldn’t that be more cruel?

Instead, the more I think about it, the compression really works: it not only reflects the speed of later parts of life, but also gives Ted two endings that one is forced to encounter together (a play, of course, on the episode’s title, which exempts the “nothing” from “Lasts forever” because what follows isn’t nothing; we have to keep living without thinking of that living as negating what we did).

The series as a whole went too long; it absolutely repeated its storylines because it didn’t have material past a certain point. But I do think the finale, with all its flaws, will eventually be seen as one of the best sitcom finales ever because it gave its audience more than most: with an unreliable narrator, a confrontation with time that was not merely episodic, and because it used (some) of its actors to the fullest of their abilities.


#8

I still think the show should have ended the exact moment Ted sees The Mother (whom we wouldn’t have seen before). Then cut to black, and voice over: “And this, kids, is how I met your mother”.


#9

I was actually OK with the finale. I was already pretty certain that the mother was going to die, with the flashforward scene to the Inn where he’s telling her the story about Robin’s mom showing up for the wedding, and Tracy saying “What kind of mom isn’t there for her daughter’s wedding?” (or something like that), and Ted gets all choked up. Barney and Robin’s divorce I was ok with, I never liked them as a couple any way. I would have been happier had Ted not ended up with Robin, but I can live with it. Barney’s little speech to his daughter (mirrored in an earlier scene in McClaren’s) was probably my favourite moment, tied with Ted finally fucking meeting the mother on the train platform right at the end.


#10

wait…it’s over?

thank god. i watched it a bit then realized it was horrible.


#11

Question about the kids (Ted’s kids, as shown in the “I’m talking to my kids 30 years later” scenes) – this show ran for almost 10 years! You can see the main adult characters get noticeably older from first to last season.

So how did the kids stay the same age in the final reveal scene? If they went from age 12 to 22 we would have really noticed!

Was that final(ish) scene with the kids filmed a long time ago? I guess it had to be.


#12

It was filmed around season 2 time IIRC. I don’t know if it was the only ending filmed, but they definitely had it in their pocket the whole time.


#13

Yup; the kids’ part was filmed at the end of the first season: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20801686,00.html

At the beginning of this season there was also an ad for the show featuring the kids, now adults, complaining about sitting on the couch for the past nine years.

Edit: Here’s that ad. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/comic-con-how-i-met-589540


#14

The most horrifying line in the entire article:
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2


#15

Aw, man, I can’t get that video to load. But this one does!

“Look at us, we’re grown ups now! I went through puberty on this couch! I missed college! I know all the lyrics to let’s go the mall, but I don’t know who the f**king president is!”


#16

Barney’s story is probably the least fulfilling of all—he accidentally knocks up a one-night stand, who we never see, but he has a daughter who (we’re to believe) magically changes his life. Wha?


#17

I think Barney’s story is actually more fulfilling than the rest. If you have friends like I do, there is always someone fking up their life, fking up the lives of those around them, but ultimately not meaning to be the bad guy and wanting to break out of the mold hopefully to get it right the next time.

Its fulfilling because it is the one that isn’t neatly wrapped up at the end. We don’t see Barney with the rest in the even more future scenes and who knows if he actually got it right. Who know if he will still it through with his daughter. Who knows if he will ever have a meaningful relationship – or if he even desires ones. I think the end was exactly as it should have been for him and its one more chance at redemption that we don’t know the answer to.


#18

Hated, hated, hated the finale. It felt like they were going out of there way to NOT give people what they wanted.

I hate the tendency of shows that have no history of being dark or downbeat suddenly deciding at the last episode to throw in these dark twists, as if the writers think its going to add gravitas to a lighthearted show to throw in a dark curve at the end. It’s just incongruous and pretentious.


#19

I wouldn’t say that HIMYM has no history of being dark or downbeat. I have friends who stopped watching when Marshall’s dad died, because it was too painful for them.


#20

I hadn’t regularly watched this in about 6 or 7 years, and did not see the finale. But I had imagined early on in the show’s run that they could end it by revealing that the children are not Ted’s. (For example, he’s telling Lily and Marshall’s kids how he met Lily. Or some relative’s kids.)

“So now you know how I met your mother. Now, as for how I met my wife and the mother of my children…”

It would leave it open for the writers to do pretty much whatever the hell they wanted. But, like I said, I hadn’t followed the show in years, so for all I know they’d already established that the kids are Ted’s.

(EDIT: reworded for clarity, maybe)