|So incredibly beautiful. How disappointing to discover|
this beautiful relationship was a distraction in the minds
of the writers. They, and we, deserved better.
I should start by saying I have loved this show from the very beginning. It was quirky and funny and I saw a lot of myself and my friends in Ted Mosby and his. Kudos to the show's creators for an interesting, original concept that was lightyears ahead of most every other comedy that's come out over the past nine years. Folks, 99% of what you did worked really, really well. You didn't have the long weird/creepy stage that "Friends" had for a few seasons. We literally laughed out loud every week for nine years. You provided all sorts of quotes and games I'll be playing with my wife for years to come ("General Studies!" /salutes) And of course, it was your show. You get to end on your terms. But we loved it for a lot of reasons, and here are three reasons why some of us wish you'd stopped about five minutes earlier than you did.
1. No one likes to watch their friends keep returning to toxic relationships.
Let's face facts: Robin & Ted were great friends and a terrible couple. Worse than Robin and Barney by miles. Some relationships just don't work no matter how much it appears they should. You know what? That's okay. People are flawed and they make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are just too much to overcome and everyone will be better off if those relationships are severed in such a way that the parties involved can actually be more healthy. As one of my seminary professors put it when I was going through my divorce, "'To death do you part' is a promise, not a sentence. If your relationship is killing the both of you, God would rather the relationship die so you both could live." Learning how to be at peace with that failed relationship (failed because two good people just couldn't make it work) has been central to all the growth I've experienced over the past ten years. Watching the last few seasons of HIMYM made me think the same thing happened for Ted. He seemed at peace. He seemed to be healing and growing. Hard to believe that was true when the whole reason for telling the story of your true love was to figure out what to do about Robin. Sometimes you shouldn't go back, Ted.
|A meet-cute story that deserved to be celebrated, |
not shoved aside for an elaborate MacGuffin.
|This was beautiful. For so long. Until it wasn't.|
Photo credit: Ron P. Jaffee (c) 2014 Fox Television
Ted, on the other hand, ended up right back where he was at the start of the nine year journey - a lovesick schmuck desperate to be fulfilled by someone else, particularly if that someone else happens to be Robin. The best kinds of love teach you how to become more of yourself, more certain about who you are, and more able to live on your own if, God forbid, that loving relationship ends. Ted made the wise, mature decision to say "no" to Robin the day she married Barney - that decision would have still been wise and mature 16 years later, but apparently he didn't grow enough to make it. Alyssa Rosenburg from the Washington Post put it best:
The finale of “How I Met Your Mother” had the same problem that the show has always had. It privileged gimmicks over its emotional core, and Ted’s cheap, childish obsession with Robin over the more adult vision of romance and marriage that it did so much to build. And the worst part of that lapse is that “How I Met Your Mother” squandered what, over the course of nine seasons, had proven to be a remarkable capacity for real feeling and clear-eyed thinking about the compromises and unexpected victories of adult life.What made us love "How I Met Your Mother" was that it was different. When it started, the big comedies were "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The King of Queens," which followed the schtick formula my Beloved calls, "He's an idiot, she's a bitch." "How I Met Your Mother" was different. Ted was different. He was the guy we were rooting would find real, lasting, genuine, strong, healthy, passionate love. Which he did. Which we got to enjoy for a few fleeting scenes, until the creators ripped it out of our hands and stabbed us in the heart. Guys, that was bad enough, but survivable, like life tends to be. End at the hospital bed, we're weeping but happy that Ted enjoyed those ten years. If you ask me, that might have been just perfect. But then you stabbed us in the back by sending Ted to Robin and thus making those incredible ten years seem like an afterthought. Ted, Tracy and all the rest of us who hoped for them for so long deserved so much better.
Footnote: other takes on the finale that I think sum up the problems:
"The 'How I Met Your Mother' Bailed On The Entire Show" - Margaret Lyons @vulture
"Why We Deserved More From The 'HIMYM' Series Finale" - Emily Orley @Buzzfeed
"Oh, 'Mother': An Awful End To A Long Love Story" - Linda Holmes, posted by NPR
"Not-So-Legendary?! A Second Opinion on the HIMYM Series Finale" - Emily Cottone