by Chelsea Lorren Brown
(Obviously, spoilers below.)
I remember when the pilot of How I Met Your Mother first aired on Australian TV; I had high hopes, but ultimately thought it was awful (canned laughter has never been my thing). Thankfully, I had become a fan of My Name Is Earl, the show it had been paired with as a sort of double bill of fresh American comedy. Out of sheer laziness I would end up watching every week, and before I knew it I was crying along with Marshall when Lily left him, and fist pumping when Ted and Robin finally hooked up. How I Met Your Mother very quickly became my favourite sitcom on TV, and stayed that way for the majority of its nine year run. It has always been a very unique show, with its jumpy timelines, unreliable narrator, and crazy running jokes. But what kept fans watching even into its less entertaining days were the characters; we cared about them, we watched them grow and develop, and we wanted to see them get their happy ending, like we’d been promised.
Now, I’ve never been one of those people obsessed with finding out who the mother is, I always envisioned it happening at the very end, just as he meets her – after all, it’s not “How I Met Your Mother, but also here’s two seasons about us dating”. To me, watching the gang go through their lives, getting to that fabled point in time was what the show was about. Regardless, the idea of the hapless, unlucky in love Ted finally being able to meet the love of his life and be happy, was something I looked forward to. I was also very anti-Ted/Robin, and loathed the ever reoccurring will-they-won’t-they-probably-not-because-Robin-repeatedly-says-no-and-loves-Barney thing they had going, and I wasn’t alone in this. They were flogging a dead horse, and none of the fans seemed to understand why…
Cut-to, the last few minutes of the last ever episode of How I Met Your Mother, in which it is revealed the mother has been dead for six years, and Ted is still hopelessly in love with Robin, who has been lonely and cold ever since her divorce from Barney. In the very last scene he finally “gets the girl” with the iconic blue French-horn in tow. Cue an Internet meltdown in a flurry of rage and confusion. As one tumblr user aptly put, perhaps the show title should have been changed to, “How I Met Your Mother but then she died and I banged your Aunt Robin”. I suppose if you’re just a casual viewer, or not a viewer at all, it may make sense, but the problem with this “twist” ending goes way deeper than just, “oh, he ends up with Robin”. I mean, it’s just plain mind-boggling how much the writers messed up everything they’d built over the span of the series in just 40 minutes.
What we now know is this ending has been planned since 2006, with scenes of Ted’s kids being filmed way back when. Had the show ended after three seasons, the ending would have made sense; it probably would have been amazing, in fact. What the writers obviously didn’t account for was the huge change the characters and their relationships with each other would take; the main of which being Robin and Barney falling in love, AND MARRYING EACH OTHER. They developed Barney’s character arguably the most throughout the course of the series, turning him from a shallow, disrespectful ladies-man, to someone capable of an adult relationship, self-respect, and maturity. The storyline of Barney and Robin first kicked off in season three, a huge contributor to the development of Barney, and soon became fans favourite pairing on the show. You could even say the whole of season nine was dedicated to the two of them and cementing their relationship and love for each other. It literally was set around the weekend leading up to their wedding! So, despite nearly six seasons of Robin rejecting Ted, and Barney and Robin being all heart-eyes-emoji for each other, the writers thought that in the last two episodes a complete turnaround would be appropriate. Sure, they just spent twenty-two episodes focussing on the marriage of Robin and Barney, but pfft, we can just divorce them like it’s no big deal! Sure, Robin repeatedly told Ted she wasn’t in love with him, or interested in the life he wanted (marriage, kids), but pfft, maybe she changes her mind off-screen and actually does love him and want to become step-mother to his children!
But what made Robin apparently change her mind, you ask? Well, a complete change of character traits, of course! Since day dot, Robin has been built as a character gung-ho on a successful career in journalism, with a desire to travel the world to boot. We’ve seen this confirmed all throughout the series, as she tackles the career ladder to the very top. At the end of the series, she finally gets her dream as one of the top travelling journalists in the world! Yes! Good for her! She got what she wanted, she followed her dream, and she didn’t let patriarchal standards of needing to settle down with a husband and children get in her way! Oh, wait…she’s suddenly miserable and lonely and hates her job. What?! So we get Barney revert to a pervert, and everything Robin has ever stood for and wanted dashed. And what for? So that Ted can finally ditch the memory of his dead wife and get it on with a now divorced Robin.
And now, to the crème of the rage crop; the mother. Or, as some people are appropriately dubbing her; “the uterus’. In How I Met Your Mother’s final season we were treated to the elusive character becoming a regular part of the show, and she was an instant hit; cute, loveable, witty, and one hell of a baker. She could only be described as perfect for Ted, but also stood on her own as a likable and layered character. In one episode dedicated entirely to her journey of meeting Ted, we learn she’s suffered tragedy, heart-break, and several near-miss encounters with her future hubby. Physically, she looks like an adorable cross between Robin and Lily, and personality-wise she contains all the geekery of Ted. Their much hyped meeting is as wonderful and romantic and teary-smile inducing as you hoped it would be; finally, they can live the lives they deserve! But no, after popping out the two children Ted has forever craved, the mother promptly dies off-screen from an un-told illness, and we see no grieving from her 10-year love. In fact, mere seconds after we find out she’s dead, Ted is picking up the phone to get back Aunt Robin. After all, Ted finally has what Robin could never medically provide him; best of both worlds!
I could go on for days about the millions of horrendous issues the finale had; and in fact I have, much to the distain of my family. Character development was dashed, big-moments happened off screen for no reason, and the “twist” ending felt like one big, mean prank. All we can try salvage from those final 40 minutes is the memory of what was; the slap-bets, Ranjit the cab driver, the yellow umbrella, the blue French-horn, Robin Sparkles, eating “sandwiches”, and the nine joyful years spent at MacLaren’s. And if that still doesn’t ease your pain, there’s always the alternate DVD ending to look forward to…