…Ted Mosby, hero of “How I Met Your Mother”
HIMYM Finale spoilers
I have dreaded the end of my favorite show, “How I Met Your Mother.” For some reason, the end of the show signaled to me the end of an era – the end of a pleasant nostalgia for my own days of freedom and choice when my only worry was determining what time I should meet Darcy and my wonderful friends after work. (We had our own “MacLaren’s” in London.) It’s hard to close the door on those fun times, and I sympathesize with Ted’s tendency to live in his stories. I figured the point of the finale would be that embracing maturity is rewarding, since that was a constant point the show made over the years. But I was wrong.
I have always admired the show, by all accounts a mainstream sitcom on the most banal of networks, because it never trod upon the easy, well-worn paths of normal half hour comedies. It dared to show us the ugly, uncomfortable truths most adults face. Broken romances with no villans, the shifts and alienations in friendships, difficult and bitter choices husbands and wives make for the sake of relationships and children. And of course, it offered one of the most realistic depictions of the heartbreak of infertility. By the way, Robin’s infertility storyline was called “one of the unwelcome times the show got too f****** real” by someone on a forum I read. HIMYM definitely did make forays sometimes into the dark side of life.
Yes, the show was unafraid to take us there: to the dark side. I think the way the creators and writers got away with it with it was because they were, well, f****** funny. And then there was the nine year mystery of the titular Mother. How would Ted Mosby meet his dream woman? That kept viewers (mostly) coming back for more.
I’ll confess I didn’t like the last season much. I was tempted to skip past it and just watch the finale, but in the end Darcy and I crammed much of the entire season into just two nights of viewing so we could watch the finale in real time. We knew the spoilers the next day would be too many to resist.
And so we finally reached the final episode, which unlike the last 23 episodes (all of which tediously focused on 48 hours), fast-forwarded 16 years in one short hour. The twists and turns were punches to the esophogus, and by the time we reached the absolutely gorgeous meeting of Ted and the Mother under that yellow umbrella, I was pretty spent. But of course there was that last final twist, which, well. If you watched the show, you know what I’m talking about. Turns out, the Mother was long dead, and Ted Mosby’s story was all about Robin anyway, not the Mother. Robin, his first love whose own life led down a difficult road filled with infertility, divorce and loneliness. The point was not that Robin was his true love all along. It wasn’t that simple. But she was the point of his story. He would resume his quixotic quest of her, 20 years later.
Here’s where I confess I loved the ending. I know, you probably hated it. Most of Twitter did. (Someone I didn’t know yelled at me on Twitter and implied I sucked for liking the finale.)
So, here’s why I loved the ending. I thought it was true to life. Life has triumphant moments for sure – the meetings under the umbrella, the legendary times you steal a shopping cart from a stuffy British grocery clerk on a dare and wheel your best friend away in sheer exhilaration (allegedly), the rush to the hospital when you’re nine months pregnant, the beautiful wedding ceremony surrounded by friends. The road to those moments CAN be long and difficult, and the road can contain disappointments, defeats, brutal compromises and boredom along the way. And life can, no, WILL be marked by terrible moments too. The devastating diagnosis of infertility, the loss of your loved ones, a broken heart. And we don’t control when the road stops, we just know it will.
The ending acknowledged all of this. And yet, in the end, Ted chooses to fight, to continue to fight to be happy.
In other words, we can’t control fate. Terrible things will happen to us and eventually the curtain will go down on our own story. But we can choose to fight to be happy.
I hope like Ted Mosby, that I always choose to fight.
Thank you, Craig Thomas and Carter Bay. It’s been real, and I thank you for that.
Did you love or hate the finale? And if you were not a viewer, were there other shows you have strongly identified with?