It all makes sense now. Why for two seasons Carter and Bays have done everything to make us hate Barney and Robin after three season convincing us to love them. The showrunners, in order to make their original ending hold up, had to doom Barney and Robin to failure. They wrote the ending in season one and refused to change it even when everything about the show changed. They hadn’t predicted nine seasons; they hadn’t predicted the chemistry between Cobie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris; they hadn’t predicted fans would love Robin and Ted in Seasons 1 and 2 and hate them in Seasons 7 through 9.
Where Carter and Bays went wrong (if we are going to narrow it down from everything) was in spending an ENTIRE season on a wedding and relationship they had every intention of tearing asunder in a matter of minutes. Barney and Robin get married—and spend the rest of the season convincing us they aren’t meant to last. Rather than being prepared for a divorce, viewers were angered and frustrated by an awkward, dysfunctional engagement between two people who had always been wonderful together. Most of us thought the showrunners forgot who Barney and Robin were—we didn’t realize Carter and Bays were refusing to adapt to changing times.
Additionally, the show is called How I Met Your Mother, not How I Met Your Now-Dead Mother—Can I Date Your Aunt Robin? Ted deserved a happily ever after and neither Robin nor Tracy deserve to be his second choice. Speaking of, which one is his second choice? Is Tracy a consolation prize? Has he been in love with Robin during his relationship with Tracy? Is that why five years pass before he marries Tracy? Is she just his baby-making machine? Is that what all that is?
I have always loved Ted for all he is and all his romanticism—save his obsession with Robin who is clearly and entirely wrong for him. Perhaps she is not perfect for Barney, but really? We are supposed to believe that Robin is in love with Ted? She dislikes everything he loves, she is emotionally unavailable, she is a Scotch-swilling, career-driven woman who does not want children. How does that make sense? Of course, you might answer the same way Ted does: Love doesn’t make sense. Which leads to another point: his speech to Robin on her wedding day is cheapened because now we know that it is supposed to make us believe in Ted and Robin’s future relationship.
The other major issue is that in the final 41 minutes, everything reverted to Season 1 characterization. We went through nine seasons of story to find the gang right back the beginning. The creators knew the ending when they developed the show (and perhaps it could have worked if the show ended after two or three seasons)—but so much changed along the way. Barney and Robin were not even an idea until the writers saw the chemistry between the two actors. To develop their relationship only to shaft it five seasons later is cruel. Robin ditching Barney for her therapist, Ted comforting Robin when she discovers she can’t have children, Ted finding the locket—all of these were attempts at keeping a romance alive. It’s as if the showrunners forgot their preconceived ending until Season 7 and suddenly realized they had to get their crap together.
When we find out that Robin was the bride and it is at her and Barney’s wedding that Ted meets the mother, I was excited. This is why, I thought excitedly, Ted begins his story with meeting Robin—because if he hadn’t met her, she wouldn’t have met Barney, they wouldn’t have fallen in love, they wouldn’t have gotten married, and Ted wouldn’t have had 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 changing a womanizing commitmentphobe 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 will go down as possessing one of the worst finales in TV history. The fact of the matter is, regardless of how true-to-life Barney and Robin’s divorce may be, we don’t want entirely believable storylines. We want to escape the sadness of real-life relationships. Sometimes we want happy endings—which is why no one is upset with Marshall and Lily. They got everything and we wanted them to. As for the others, we are left with a dead mother, a single father in Barney, and a re-hashed, over-played, flat, dissatisfying relationship between Ted and Robin.
Thanks a lot, HIMYM. I will need a few months to process this ending before I will even consider watching re-runs of your show. And even then, I will deny the last episode even exists. I will betake myself to fan fiction websites and drown my sorrows in how-it-should-have-ended stories.