In Defense of the HIMYM Finale
I’ve been a long time on and off fan of the show but in the last 4 months, my roommate and I have binge watched the entire series leading up to the finale. After taking some time to digest the finale and read the criticisms, there are just some potshots that are unwarranted.
1. Character Regression: Why did Ted have to go back to Robin? Why did Robin have to go back to Ted? Why did Barney have go back to being a womanizer?
I don’t see how it is regression when Ted found his perfect love and his perfect match to have and build a family with. He was the Mosby who we all knew, loved, and hated when he met a girl at a train stop and decided not to move to Chicago.
I don’t see how it is regression when Robin always loved Ted but just didn’t want a family to interfere with her career goals. She couldn’t have children and she knew Ted wanted to be a dad. She got to travel and got to pursue her career across the world. She tried marriage during that time period and with the strain it didn’t work. She tried it with a man who claimed he didn’t want kids (but ultimately really did). Isn’t Robin the independent strong willed career oriented professional woman that many people believe in? Isn’t her still being able to find love at the end a good fit?
Barney did change. How many times did we see characters like Alfred Mosby, James Stinson, Stuart Bowers, etc. step out on their marriages? Barney never did. He was able to keep himself in check. That says a lot about Barney’s love for Robin. Barney did grow up.
By becoming a parent, he finally understood the type of unwavering love that his own mother gave him when she was willing to tell elaborate lies to keep him happy and was willing to go toe to toe with Robin to make sure she was the right fit. He could have never learned that with Robin (since Robin can’t have kids). Further, Barney was raised by a great mother who just also happened to be an incorrigible hound dog. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
2. Why push Barney so hard for Robin if the writers always knew it was going to be Robin and Ted?
With unremarkable ratings, it made sense to push the breakout character. Barney’s catch phrases and bro code went mainstream. Neil Patrick Harris hosted the Tony’s multiple times, had memorable roles in the Harold and Kumar movies, came out of the closet, etc. all during the HIMYM run.
It also drives ratings to push a story line about a woman so wonderful that she was able to reform the most ridiculous and disgusting of all womanizers. I hate to call people who believe this suckers, but they really are.
Without developing Barney, no one would have found his marriage to Robin believable. That marriage needed to happen for Robin to grow, for Ted to move on, and for Barney to ultimately realize that marriage isn’t for him.
3. From a Buzzfeed article directly: “We’d spent nine years hearing Ted talk about his wife, only to find out they were married for just 10 years before she was taken from him. And to top it all off, her death was covered in mere seconds on screen. It felt like we had been cheated.” Or some other critique that harps on the concentration of the show being about the mother.
We didn’t spend 9 years hearing Ted talk about his wife. We spent 9 years watching the journey of Ted’s single life with his friends. The show is called “HOW I Met Your Mother”. The first word of that clause is the most important. It’s about the how. It’s about the journey he went on. Why would he tell the story about the journey unless there’s a reason behind it? His own kids were able to identify it. Why weren’t some of the viewers?
(If I asked you, “How do you get home everyday?”, would you tell me about your home or how you got there? Grammar, people. It’s grammar.)
What does it say about people when they concentrate on the mystery of the ending and fail to recognize the journey? It’s rather similar to the hyper religious who concentrate on the mystery of the end of their lives and not recognizing the importance of the journey. Did the mystery premise really keep you watching? Or were the actual hijinks and the journey of the relationships the reason you kept tuning in for 9 years? Because if you want a mystery solved, you can wait a far shorter period of time than 9 years in a lot of other shows. True Detective did it in 8 episodes.
I feel like a lot of these complaints are from very young people who haven’t experienced loved ones dying at a young age. Being a widow at 52 years old isn’t abnormal. I have multiple friends who were widows before the age of 27. The Mother passing away when Ted was 46 isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s also in line with the show. Marshall’s dad died young. The Mother’s first husband died young.
4. Robin was horrible towards Ted, told him repeatedly that she didn’t love him, married his best friend, and didn’t want him because he was safest. She put her career of everything. Why is it different at the end?
Robin was the best friend Ted had. She knew he wanted a family, She knew he wanted to live in the suburbs. She couldn’t have a family with him. She knew she couldn’t live in the suburbs if she were to pursue his career. Wouldn’t it just be a horrible woman minimizing trope if she gave up her dreams to conform to the leading male character’s idea of romance?
As often as she said she didn’t love him, she struggled with her emotions for him all the through her wedding day. She pulled away from the group of friends the moment Ted met the Mother. She disappeared entirely when she wasn’t forced to be around the group by her marriage to Barney.
Robin never really wanted a husband a lot like her dad. She wanted a man who would do anything for her. She even brought this up on her wedding day. She made sure Ted got the family he wanted and eventually gave him the love that he needed.
Ted also rejected Robin when she wanted to abandon her wedding to sneak away with him. Ted had opportunities to push for Robin but he chose not to because he knew she wasn’t the one he needed or wanted.
At the end, Robin is a 50 year old dog lady. At that age, she’s probably sitting at the anchor desk of World News Network and not chasing down stories like a young unproven journalist. In fact, we know she’s moving up quickly because her face is plaster on the bus (when Ted’s daughter calls her bus lady). As anyone with dogs can tell you, it’s a daily commitment. Unless she’s completely heartless, she’s not abandoning those dogs repeatedly to globe trot.
5. It wasn’t a happy ending. Why have a sad finale where the titular Mother dies? Why have Barney and Robin divorce?
It wasn’t happy for who? You, the viewer, who was forced to have feelings? News flash, people die and people get divorced. Dead mother theory has been around forever.
Robin got her career and got the man who would do anything for her to grow old with. Ted built his building, built his family, built his house in the suburbs, and got the girl who stood by his side through all of his trials and tribulations (even if she caused some of them).
Barney got revenge on the man who ruined his first love, got to make a living by blogging about life style and writing the Bro Code, got a daughter to teach him true love (and a taste of his own medicine), and gets to continue his pursuit of women. Lily and Marshall got to have 3 kids and another couple to share the old person porch with.
I don’t understand this criticism as illustrated by the link above. I thought Ted finally seeing the Mother for the first time was great. I thought Ted talking her up to an old lady at a train stop was great. I thought finally meeting under the umbrella and realizing all their near misses was great. I thought it was very much hopeless romantic Ted for letting his move and new job in Chicago to be derailed by a chance meeting with the Mother was great.
We’ve seen how romantic their first date was, their proposal, their constant visits to the Farhampton Inn, the births of their children, their sharing of stories, etc. before the finale even happened. In the finale, we also get when she tells Ted she’s pregnant. They make the very loving mature parent decision of putting preparing for the child ahead of their dream wedding. It’s pretty clear they are ready for a life together and don’t need that dream wedding to start it.
The re-proposal was sweet because it was unnecessary. It didn’t have to be world stopping romance. Ted grew up. Tracy loved that proposal just as much as she did the first one with how she reacted.
7. How (I Was in Love With Your Stepmom Long Before) I Met Your Mother or a variation of “Hey kids, I love Aunt Robin but she didn’t want kids so I married your mom and would have stuck with her because she was, admittingly awesome, but she died and if you’re cool with it I’ll go back to the lady I really loved most.” (from a Facebook argument)
Are we still living in a world where we pretend our parents weren’t human beings before they met each other? Ted telling this story was to let his kids know how much he cared about their Aunt Robin. The writers went to painstakingly long lengths to show Ted let Robin go (with that horriblly ridiculous floating away scene) and the scene where Ted refuses to run off with Robin when she tries to abandon the bridal suite.
Robin was such a little threat that even Tracy invited Robin to Ted and Tracy’s wedding. She of all people know what it takes to let someone go as illustrated by her scene outside of Max’s house.
Just because the stories were his way of asking his kids to date Robin again, doesn’t take away from his love for the mom. He had opportunities to pursue Robin again and avoided them over and over. It wasn’t just Robin shutting down Ted. He did things for the mother and with the mother that he never did and never could do with Robin. Putting love on a comparative more or less scale is not my idea of what love is. We don’t know Ted’s kids. We do know his kids approve of Aunt Robin. And that the Mother didn’t push Ted to de-friend Robin like Victoria did, so clearly the Mother wasn’t insecure about the Robin threat.
Before the show even aired… July 20, 2005
That all said, the ending wasn’t perfect, but it was satisfying… if you actually paid attention. But the internet loves telling creative people who spend their lifetimes creating something, how to do it better. Go write your own show.