The reactions to Monday’s “How I Met Your Mother” series finale were widely polarizing, with a large portion of the audience reacting in anger while a smaller margin saw the episode as really something special. While it may not have been the ending fans were expecting, “How I Met Your Mother” ended really in the only way it could have, in the only way the story made sense. Why? Because, as the kids pointed out after the story ended: “It was a story about Robin.” It had always been about Robin.
Why’s that important? Because it shows that the writers of “HIMYM” understand their characters and know them fully, know their deepest desires and yearnings, their struggles, their loneliness. Know them as people. And that people can grow out of who you think they are supposed to be and into something more.
There was a layered complexity to the finale beyond the surface “tricks” that upset many fans. We’re forgetting about the first trick the show ever played, again back in the pilot: “The pilot spends all its time setting you up to think Robin is the mother, then pulls the rug out,” The Wire reminded us. Now, in hindsight, it feels almost like a teaser. “If Ted and Tracy had just ended up happily ever after, that would have been fine, but quite boring, and everyone would have just rolled their eyes and bemoaned the show’s slow fall from grace.” In an interview with Josh Radnor for Vulture, he adds: “The show was always bold and daring and questioning assumptions and leading you where you thought you didn’t want to go, but realized at the end that that was where you belonged.”
Also, this point needs to be made: Ted did tell the story of how he met the mother. He did. He finished it. The camera turns and shows Ted ending the story after nine seasons. It’s done. Now we’re years later, years of grieving after a loss, and afterwards Ted finds something else in his story, something else he couldn’t let go.
That’s not to take away from Ted’s relationship with the mother, Tracy, who was a perfect fit for Ted at that point in his life and, as it seems, made him so incredibly happy that he didn’t even care that they didn’t get married right away. She slowed down his tendency to rush relationships, which is what ruined things with Robin back in episode one. And in the mean time, Robin grew and matured and became her own person. Possibly a lonely person, possibly as lonely as Ted. There’s nothing wrong with two lonely people providing comfort and compassion and trying again after fifteen years. As The Huffington Post points out,
“The whole nine seasons became one long tale about moving on from loss, accepting growth in pain, the reality of friends drifting apart and the negation of “one true loves.” Ted didn’t have one true love. He had two, maybe more. May we all be so lucky.
May we all be so lucky, indeed.
Image via Official website