How I Met Your Mother: A Retrospective

Nope, nothing at all accessibility related this time. I just watched the finale of How I Met Your Mother, and felt the need to weigh in on what’s turned out to be a controversial ending at a classic.

With each passing year I’m getting less and less interested in loyally watching TV shows, so it’s notable to me that I stuck with How I Met Your Mother from day one, nine seasons in all. I can’t think of too many shows that ran that long that I watched religiously as it ran.

I rank it as my all-time favorite sitcom (The Big Bang Theory is up there too). I was never a fan of Friends because while I liked three of the characters (Joey, Phoebe and Chandler), I despised the other three. With HIMYM, I’ve loved the entire cast for the entire run.

Admittedly, the show started feeling old about three seasons ago, and I was ready for it to wrap up. It rebounded a bit this last season, even with its weird “the whole season happens over one wedding weekend” premise.

So, on to the finale, which I just watched a couple hours ago. I stumbled upon some key spoilers earlier in the week, so that influenced my reaction to some of the swerves.

As lots of critics and fans sound off about how terrible the finale was, what do I think?

I’d have to say I have very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m not outraged about it or feel cheated. Having watched a bunch of whiners trash the ending to perhaps the greatest video game series of all time, Mass Effect, I have limited patience for people getting so worked up and nasty about the ending to something they otherwise loved.

On the other, there were definite pros and definite cons. It felt a little rushed, and I’m not sure it needed to be when they knew this was the last season.

Con: Isn’t This Supposed to be a Comedy?
I know great sitcoms mix drama with their comedy, and that’s a good thing when there are characters you invest time in and care about. No problem there. HIMYM did that brilliantly for nine years.

But the ending just seemed, I don’t know, too depressing. Friends going their separate ways and lamenting it; Marshall in a soul-sucking job; divorce; the titular mother dying…I get it, that’s life. But, man! The first half of the finale was particularly a kick in the groin.

A sitcom can have its moments of sadness and weight, but remember in the end that it’s still a comedy!

In Between: The Mother Being Dead
Apparently fans have seen this coming for years, and it was planned from day one. But ignorant me didn’t see it coming until that episode a few weeks ago where Ted inexplicably breaks down when the subject of mothers not being at their kids’ weddings comes up.

So maybe seeing it coming, plus having it spoiled earlier in the week, cushioned things, but I’m not overly upset about it. The mother played such little part in the series until the final season, so it’s not like I was that wrapped up in the character. It wasn’t simply about the mother; it was about the gang hanging out, going through good and bad times together.

Admittedly, Cristin Milioti hit the role out of the park and made the character memorable in such a short period of time.

It wasn’t the rosy way I would have ended the show, but kudos to the writers for sticking with a plan they had from the very beginning

Pro: Robin & Barney Make It a Whopping Three Years
That’s life. They were a fun couple, but forever and ever was hardly plausible. It would have been incredibly lame had they done a whole season leading up to a wedding that never happened, but having them marry and divorce years later was just fine. And lead to…

Pro: Ted & Robin Hooking Up….Again
If the mother was dead woman walking from day one, it makes perfect sense that Ted and Robin would wind up together. Throughout the entire run, it’s been hinted at and in hindsight, all roads led there. Some critics called putting them together at the end a ‘betrayal’.

Hard to consider it a betrayal when all the signs were there from day one. The kids make a good point at the end — is was supposed to be a story about how Ted met their mom, but he spent little time talking about her, and spent gobs of time talking about “Aunt” Robin.

Con: Barney’s Life Change
I completely get that having a child can change one’s life, but c’mon — Barney’s instant character change while holding his daughter was a bit too contrived and hokey. It was just sort of thrown there. Having Barney go through a midlife change after unexpected fatherhood isn’t the problem — the way they slapped in there was.

Con: No Bob Saget?!?
Seriously? You have Bob Saget narrating a show for nine years and can’t give him so much of a cameo? I was convinced from day one he’d show up at some point, but he made no appearance, and they abandoned his voice in the final episode. That was a complete missed opportunity.

Con: The Whole Rushed Feeling
You have a whole season that takes up a couple days, and other than plenty of hilarious moments it doesn’t really accomplish a whole heck of a lot….and then you rush your finale?

I’d give the finale a B.

And so, I bid farewell to one of my all-time favorite shows. The ending wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t an outrage either. The characters were always believable, so why not have believable things happen to them like a marriage ending in divorce, one ending in death, and another living happily after? I could have used a little more laughs and less depression at times, but hey, can’t make ’em perfect.

And I still rank Barney Stinson as one of the greatest characters in television history.

Here’s to hoping Agents of Shield gets renewed and they get Cobie Smulders on there as a regular, now that she’s in theory available. And no, I won’t watch the unnecessary How I Met Your Dad or the uninteresting Friends with Better Lives.

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