Words cannot properly describe how disappointed I am with the series finale of How I Met Your Mother.
No, wait, yes they can.
Never in all my years of television watching have I seen an ending so unbelievably shitty. And before you ask, no, I haven’t seen the Dexter finale but I’m pretty sure this one is worse. This isn’t just bad. No, this is a masterclass in terrible endings. I’m in awe at how mind-numbingly bad the series finale – entitled The Last Forever – was. Even now, a couple days removed from having seen the terrible ending, I’m still at a loss for words to accurately describe how bad this was. This is an ending that transcends medium. It’s not just an awful ending to a television show, it should stand as an example of one of the worst endings to any piece of fiction. Ever.
The history books will look back on this, using it as an example of how not to end…anything. Not just television. Anything. This is, dare I say, The Mother of all bad endings.
Spoiler alert, by the way. In case that wasn’t obvious.
Everything this show was supposed to be about was turned on its head. The Mother of the two children Ted is narrating this story to, who is set up to be the love of Ted’s life, turns out to be little more than a speed bump on Ted’s nine season long journey to find his true love, who turns out to be Robin.
But what angers me most isn’t the disposal of the mother, used to give Ted the children he always wanted and then tossed aside like just another of Ted’s throwaway relationships we’ve seen over the years. No, it’s that the writers had the gall to put Ted and Robin together after spending the better part of nine seasons detailing the many reasons why the two of them couldn’t work, no matter how much they loved each other.
The two of them wanted different things from lives. Ted wanted to settle down and have children and live happily ever after in married bliss. Robin wanted to be a career woman, jet-setting around the world on assignment as a hotshot TV journalist. Oh, and not only did she not want kids, she was incapable of having them altogether.
So they would never work. This was your reasoning across nine seasons as to why they would never work. This is the thick, woolen tapestry of a narrative you’ve spun in order to make this narrative work, no matter how many times Ted and Robin fell in and out of love with one another over the years.
But now, over the span of two episodes, everything changed. The Mother served her purpose in giving Ted the two children he always wanted, and conveniently got sick and died in the span of about five minutes, in order to make way for Ted’s true love.
Oh, and that wedding that they spent not one but two seasons setting up – remember, much of season eight was made up of Barney’s elaborate scheme to propose to Robin – the one that took place over practically all of season nine? The marriage lasted about half an episode. Bravo. What a colossal waste of everyone’s time. Time that could’ve been spent giving us reasons to care about the mother before her untimely, over-in-five minutes-and-then-tossed-aside death.
And the worst part about it? The kids are just okay with it. No, not only are they okay with it, okay with the idea that their mother was little more than a surrogate baby dispenser/consolation prize to Ted in all of this, they seem happy about it. Yes, I understand that their mother has been dead for six years so the grief has lessened somewhat, but the sheer glee they display when Ted basically asks them for permission to go and bang their Aunt Robin is nothing short of sociopathic.
But it’s surprisingly fitting, nonetheless.
After all, we barely knew this “mother” person. Yes, there were brief flashes of the person she was, painting her as the kind of person Ted was meant to be with all along. But that’s all we saw. Flashes. We didn’t get to know her, so the kids’ reaction may as well have been a stand-in for that of the audience. Yeah, I’m supposed to care about the mother, but the show didn’t give me any reason to, so go ahead bro, you might as well go bang Robin like you’ve always wanted.
And we can’t even say that the writers bait-and-switched us all this time. No. The series has always been about how much Ted loves Robin and their many adventures and misadventures in love they’ve had with one another. From the very first episode, when Ted first saw her from across the room, he’s been madly in love with Robin and even when she was to wed Barney and he met his consolation prize of a wife/mother of his children to be, that never faded. But the show kept telling us it wasn’t meant to be, that it would never work.
Oh but it would. It would just require a stand-in to give Ted his children, conveniently get out of the way and time. Because Robin couldn’t keep that fast paced news anchor lifestyle up forever, could she? No. Eventually, she’d settle down, which would give Ted’s children time to grow up into near adulthood so she wouldn’t have to deal with them. Because Robin wanted no part of dealing with kids 24/7. But now that they’ve grown and are mostly self-sufficient, all the obstacles are gone and she and Ted can be together. It’s a win-win!
Except that all of that is amazingly nonsensical. Too many things have to happen in order for this implausible scenario to work. The show’s writers must have thought of this as well. They’d written themselves into a corner with the “Ted and Robin still love each other” plotline but instead of going the logical route and simply skipping all of this, they contrived a convoluted and asinine way for them to be together against all odds.
What boggles my mind is that, at no point did any of the writers look at this and say “This is a bad idea. This needs to be scrapped and we need to go back to the drawing board.” And how could that not have happened? How could anyone look at this terrible schlockfest of an ending and think “Yep, this is good. This is how our show needs to end.” Did they simply not care? Was everyone just so tired of working on the show that they decided to come up with the worst possible ending for the series as their final “fuck you” to the fans who had invested in it? At this point, I’m inclined to believe that. Just look at the past couple episodes. Even Jason Segel seemed to have checked out.
So fuck you too, How I Met Your Mother. Fuck you and that shitty, sociopathic ending of yours. An ending so irredeemably awful that it deserves nothing more than unrestrained and unfiltered contempt. Yes. I was invested. Yes, I’ve noticed that the series took a steep decline in quality over the past few seasons but I was hoping they could at least end on a high note or even a decent one. Yeah, ending with Ted and the Mother meeting on the train tracks and realizing that they were meant to be together under the shelter of the yellow umbrella as the camera pulls away would’ve been cheesy but I’ll take cheesy over apocalyptically bad any day.
What a way to put a cap on a long running pseudo love story. I never would’ve imagined the writers would want to paint their protagonist and his children (and Robin too, to a certain extent) as sociopaths but I guess I just don’t know television.
So ends the story of Ted Mosby, Robin Scherbatsky and the gang, not with a bang, not even with a whimper, but a complete 180 degree turn, smashing into a brick wall and exploding into a million shitty pieces. I have never seen something I actually enjoyed end so badly, and I hope I never will again.
Also Posted on Endless Backlog