Hey 3.5 readers. Your old pal BQB here.
I’ve been working on this list a long time now and I never seem to run out of TV shows that ended badly.
Today, I want to talk about a great show that sadly screwed the pooch in the end. Yep, I’m talking about the long running series “How I Met Your Mother.”
Oh and FYI – SPOILERS! So, if you haven’t watched it yet, don’t read below.
Ironically, I never watched this show while it was on the air. I assumed it was one of many vapid CBS comedies about young, beautiful people pretending to have problems but they don’t really have them. “Waah, boo hoo I’m so pretty and so sad.”
But as it turns out, it’s not that bad at all. Funny, the first episode I saw was the last one. After hearing about this show about a man telling his kids the story of how he met their mother for years, I figured it might be interesting to check out the final show where he meets “the mother.”
At the time, I thought it was nice but then over time, I went back and streamed the show from the beginning on Netflix and…yeah…that ending sucked the big one.
Unlike many sitcoms where you can come in at any time and not be lost, this series really is cumulative and better watched from the beginning.
The best short description I can give it is that it is “Friends” for the tail end of Generation X (or the beginning of the Millenials, depending on how you’re keeping score. I know that can be confusing as “Friends” was also a big show for Generation X (but the older Gen Xers.)
Ted (Josh Radnor), Robin (Cobie Smulders), Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) five youngsters just trying to make it in Manhattan.
As they go forth into the world, the show explores a variety of issues that often affect people as they move from their early twenties into their thirties or in other words, as they escape adolescence and struggle to make the best of adulthood.
Each character suffers career setbacks – i.e. their chosen professions don’t work out anywhere near the way they thought.
The characters suffer losses – i.e. parents grow old and die or decide they don’t like each other anymore and get divorced.
They experience regret and suffer sadness over thinking “What if this” and “If only I had done that” and they learn how to cope with the fact that there’s no time travel machine for them to use to go back in time and prevent themselves from making mistakes.
They all suffer romantic heartaches and Ted suffers the most.
The show is narrated from the perspective of an older Ted (voiced by Bob Saget). Ted, an older man, calls his young children into his home office, sits them down in front of his desk and begins to tell them the story of “How I Met Your Mother.” The show runners showed a great deal of foresight as to the show’s longevity as they recorded a number of interactions with the kids that could be used to interact with Older Ted (who we don’t see until the very end sitting at the desk, it’s just assumed he’s there talking to the kids).
Over the course of ten seasons (this is reflected as the kids often joke about their father’s horribly long winded story telling style), we see Ted move from a young, recent college graduate to a mature adult man.
Ted is madly in love with Robin, who he sees as his end all, be all, the perfect woman, the woman that can bring all sorts of eternal happiness to his soul.
We’ve all met someone like that and we all know it feels pretty shitty when that love goes unrequited. Even worse, an experience like that can make us doubt future relationships. After all, if you met someone who gave you butterflies, won’t it feel like settling if you end up with someone who doesn’t? But then again, how likely is it to get that butterfly feeling in your life more than once? Should you really wait for it to come again?
Life is complicated as the show tells us. Though it is filled with great humor, we learn that life’s greatest problems aren’t all black and white. Sure, you could hate Robin for denying Ted…or you could understand that Robin wants something very different than what Ted wants.
Ted dreams of a stable home life filled with kids and a loving wife who adores him and will work on house projects with him and shop for curtains and so on. Robin dreams of becoming a big time TV reporter, traveling the world, going on awesome adventures and making a lot of money.
Thus, as much as these two do love each other, Robin at least realizes she probably would not have the type of personality that Ted yearns for in the long run.
The show moves on. Ted meets a series of woman. Each time, we wonder if this woman will be “the mother.” Ted is abused by some of these women and at other times, Ted screws the pooch royally with these women. It’s reflective of the average love life – sometimes people get screwed over and sometimes they do the screwing over.
By the time the last episode rolls around, Ted is forlorn as hell, having to go through an indignity no man should suffer through – being expected to go to the wedding of the woman he loves (Robin) to his one of his best friends (Barney.)
That’s another lesson of the show. Sometimes love will come in an inconvenient manner. Rarely does it ever show up when you want it to by appointment under the best of circumstances. Like Robin, Barney also yearns for that flashy, jet setting lifestyle and so he and Robin are perfect for each other…though it causes all sorts of turmoil given that they both are friends with Ted.
But then things look up for Ted. Ted’s about to kiss New York goodbye, ready to move on to Chicago, a new city that isn’t filled with so many sad memories for him, when he meets…”the mother!”
Robin and Barney are happy. Ted and “The Mother” are happy…it looks like the show will end happily for all and then…SPOILER…the mother dies. Yup. They kill off the mother right after we meet her…after the show’s biggest fans were waiting ten years to meet her.
At some point, we see Robin and Barney staying in a hotel in some exotic location Robin is reporting (she finally got her dream job) from. Barney has become a successful blogger, sharing the many secrets of how to score with chicks he learned from his days as a super pervert.
You’d think they’d be happy – after all, Robin is traveling all over the world on her network’s time and Barney is tagging along with a new career that he can do from anywhere as long as he brings his laptop but, we’re told they are miserable with this lifestyle, but to me, that just seems so out of character. All those two wanted was a) love b) adventure and c) to not have to sacrifice one for the other. They’re fellow adventurers who love one another and can travel the world together…not sure how that’s wrong for them.
Yes, Barney hooked up with Robin and you’re not supposed to do that to your bro but hey, love is messy and sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
Somehow, Robin ends up essentially being punished for doing what her gut told her to do. She ends up giving this long, tearful speech to Lilly about how she regrets dumping Ted, the only man she loved who loved her but now it’s too late, for Ted has moved on and is with the mother now.
I mean, yeah, any guy who has ever been dumped by the girl of his dreams, his great dream is to find one more girl of his dreams and then have the first girl become beside herself with misery and woe about dumping him.
Long story short, Robin ends up an old spinster in her apartment, apparently a punishment for choosing her career over Ted, but the mother dies because the writers just didn’t have the guts to let the Ted/Robin romance go. The show closes with an old Ted rushing to an old Robin’s apartment to profess his love, his kids giving him his blessing as much time has passed since “The Mother’s” death.
Sigh. Just…yeah…sigh. The happier ending would have been that Robin isn’t a bad person for recognizing what she wanted and going for it, even if that meant putting career over love. She had confidence in herself that she’d find love after her she found her career.
The happier ending would have been that Ted didn’t lie down like a dog and die because Robin didn’t love him. He kept putting himself out there. He kept trying. He finally met his second dream girl.
The happier ending would have been that Robin and Barney, two adventurers, end up together, and Ted and “the Mother” two homebodies who yearn to be loving, doting parents, end up together.
But nope. No. We get to meet the mother and then she’s taken away. I mean, I guess in a dark way, that’s a happy ending for Ted. He gets his second dream girl and then he also gets to be with his first dream girl as an older man.
But for a show called, “How I Met Your Mother” everyone naturally assumed the end of that title should be, “How I Met Your Mother…and How We Lived Happily Ever After.”
Nope. Instead, the show should have been called, “How I Met Your Mother…and Boy Am I Glad that Bitch Croaked So I Can Finally Bone Robin Now that She’s So Old She’s Given Up On Finding Anyone Else to Bone Her!”
Guess that title would not have been as catchy.
Don’t get me wrong. If you haven’t seen it (why did you read this then) you should still watch it. I laughed. I cried. Honestly, at times I debated whether to continue to watch the show because some of the heartaches and regrets, sadness over failures and bad decisions really got to me and made me relive my own pain in my mind…I mean, that’s not a good thing to happen but it speaks to how well written the show is.
But wow. That ending really stunk.