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How We Left Your Mother

April 3rd, 2014

Monday night, the Internet lost its collective shit over the finale of How I Met Your Mother. It raged its feelings of betrayal in all caps. And more than 10,000 of its denizens took the entirely reasonable next step of signing an online petition demanding that the offending ending be rewritten and reshot.

If there’s one good thing to come out of all of this sturm und drung, it’s that everyone will shut the fuck up about the Lost, Seinfeld and¬†Battlestar Galactica finales for a while.

The other day, I wrote about how HIMYM overstayed its welcome, dragging out to ludicrous length its tale of Ted Mosby’s quest for love. And yet, in this final hour, things clicked into place for me. It may not have been the ending I wanted, but in hindsight it was the only one that made sense of its nine-year shaggy dog story.

(Major spoilers ahead. Stop now if you care.)

So, as many viewers suspected for at least the past year, it was revealed in the final minutes that the titular mother had been dead (of a vague illness) for the past six years. The show was about Future Ted asking his children for permission to date his first love Robin again.

This explained a lot of things, not the least of which was why Ted’s long, long story began with his first meeting with “Aunt Robin.” And why so much of it revolved around their unresolved feelings for each other.

It was a brave choice on the part of the producers, given the expectation on the part of the audience for a happily-ever-after ending. But I think that to a large extent the audience  brought that disappointment upon themselves. They became obsessed with the Mother, treating the show as a Lost-style mystery box to be puzzled open.

To be fair, they were aided and abetted by the producers, who kept teasing them with hints, glimpses and almost-meetings. And I agree with the criticisms that the execution was muddled by the many obstacles and walkbacks necessitated by the show’s nine-year run. If it had a made a graceful exit at the end of the fifth season, if it hadn’t spent an entire year building up to Barney and Robin’s wedding only to have them divorce 15 minutes into the next episode, I don’t think that there would have been nearly so much of an outcry.

For my part, I was okay with the final episode. It was melancholy, but it felt truthful. Things don’t always work out the way we want. People die. And the only thing we can cling to is hope that things will be better tomorrow.




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