It all makes sense now: why for two seasons, the HIMYM showrunners, Carter and Bays, have done everything they could to make us hate the relationship of Barney and Robin….after three season of convincing us how awesome they are together. The showrunners, in order to make their original ending hold up, had to make viewers want BRo to break up and understand why they are doomed for failure. They wrote the ending in season one and then refused the change it even when everything about their show changed. They hadn’t thought their show would get to nine seasons; they didn’t realize that the same chemistry Cobie Smulders would have with Josh Radnor would be the same chemistry she’d have with Neil Patrick Harris (even more so); and they didn’t realize that the same love story between Robin and Ted that fans liked in seasons one and two would be the same love story many viewers would come to find tedious and annoying in seasons seven, eight, and nine.
Of course, where Carter and Bays went wrong (other than everything) was in spending an ENTIRE season on a wedding and relationship that they had every intention of tearing asunder in a matter of two minutes. Why not have Barney and Robin marry in one episode, and then spend the rest of the season convincing us slowly that they aren’t meant to last? Why spend the first half of season 8 bringing them together, culminating in a beautiful proposal, and then season 9 on their wedding? Viewers, rather than becoming mentally prepared for a divorce, were instead angered and frustrated by an awkward, dysfunctional engagement between two people who were so wonderful together in seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 (I leave out 5 and 7 because of storylines)? Most of us thought they showrunners forgot who Barney and Robin were and that is why they had such terrible plotlines – we didn’t realize it’s because Carter and Bays were refusing to adapt to changing times.
The show is called How I Met Your Mother, not Let Me Tell You the Story of How I Met Your Now-Dead Mother so I Can Get Your Permission to Date Your Aunt Robin. Don’t cheapen Ted and the perfectly matched Mother’s wonderful love story. Ted deserved his happily ever after and neither Robin nor Tracy deserves to be Ted’s second choice. Speaking of, which one is his second choice? Is Tracy a consolation prize? Has he been in love with Robin all during his relationship with Tracy? Is that why he doesn’t marry Tracy till five years later? Is she just his baby-making machine? Is that what all that is?
The whole show has made me love Ted for all that he is and all his romanticism, save his obsession with Robin – a woman who is clearly and entirely wrong for him. I’m not saying that she is perfect for Barney, but really? We are supposed to believe that Robin is in love with Ted? She dislikes everything he loves; she’s emotionally unavailable, a Scotch-swilling, career-driven woman who doesn’t want children. She has never wanted the same things as Ted; she’s never enjoyed the same things as Ted. How does that make any sense? Of course, you might answer the same way Ted does: Love doesn’t make sense. And there’s another point: his speech to Robin on her wedding day is cheapened because now we know that we, as viewers, are supposed reflect on it in retrospect as a way of making us believe in Ted and Robin’s future relationship.
The other major issue with this whole show is that in the final 41 minutes, everything reverted back to season 1 characterization: why did we have 9 seasons of development just to have the gang right back at the beginning? The ending of the show was conceived in when they developed the show, but having Barney and Robin marry was an idea they had in between season 5 and 6. In fact, putting Barney and Robin together was not an idea until they saw the actors’ chemistry. This goes to show that things change, developments happen, and as such, the showrunners should have moved forward and given up an idea that would have worked if the show had ended in season 2, or even season 3. But to have developed a relationship between two people so adorably (Barney and Robin) just have to have it shafted five seasons later is a travesty. It’s cruel to your viewership. Furthermore, it is as if the showrunners forgot their ending during seasons 3 through 6 and then suddenly remembered they had to get their crap together and start making us like Ted and Robin again. This is why we have Robin say yes to her therapist boyfriend in season 7 and ditch Barney: because she liked his answer better and because his answer is what Ted would have said. This is why we see Ted being the one to comfort Robin when she found out she couldn’t have children. This is why we see Ted find the locket (actually, not find it, just take it from Lily). Now I see the threads of Robin and Ted through the seasons – what I thought was the showrunners beating an old dead horse is actually their attempts at keeping a romance alive. Forgive me for following and preferring the threads of Barney and Robin – it’s not as if they didn’t harp on that relationship for six seasons.
When we found out that Robin was the bride and that it is at her and Barney’s wedding that Ted meets the mother, I was excited. I thought it was beautifully done: this is why, I assumed, Ted begins his story with meeting Robin. Because if she hadn’t met him, then she wouldn’t have met Barney, and the Barney and Robin wouldn’t have fallen in love and thus wouldn’t have given Ted the opportunity to meet the love of his life. What a sweet idea: simultaneously give Ted and his future wife an epic love story while developing the womanizing man-whore, commitment phobe into a one-woman man.
The very idea that Ted is telling the story to his children as a way to air his feelings for Robin utterly negates everything about him and the mother.
How I Met Your Mother’s ending will go down as one of the worst finales in TV. The fact of the matter is, regardless of how true-to-life Barney and Robin’s divorce is, viewers don’t necessarily want entirely believable storylines. We want to escape the sadness of real-life relationships. Sometimes we want perfect, little happy endings – which is why no one is upset with Marshall and Lily’s story. Those two got everything and we are all glad of it. As for the others, we’re left with a dead mother, a single father in Barney, and a re-hashed, flat, and over-played relationship between Ted and Robin.
Thanks a lot, HIMYM. I will need a few months to process this ending before I’ll even consider watch re-runs of your show. And even then, I’ll choose to deny the last episode even exists. I’ll betake myself over to fan fiction websites and drown my sorrows in “How it should have ended” stories.