Many of us sheltering at home are revisiting seasons of beloved TV series as we run out of Tiger King to watch. While many are happy to revisit old seasons of New Girl or The Office, people are a touch more hesitant to tune into How I Met Your Mother: That contentious finale just might have ruined the series for all time.
But why does that ending still make us so mad, six full years later? In a new video essay, The Take takes a look at the problematic parts of the final episode, saying the final product “felt unsatisfying and brutal.” Viewers had a full 23-episode season to get invested in the wedding of Barney and Robin, for example, only to have them divorce an episode later.
Most troublesome of all, the series just made the titular Mother (Cristin Milioti) just too damn adorable. Even after several seasons of a tight-knit cast, Milioti’s Tracy somehow fit effortlessly into the clique that had never before opened up to accept a new person. Tracy was pretty perfect, so the only way to have Ted and Robin be free to get together at the very end of the series was to have Tracy die. Then Ted and Robin reunite “mere minutes of screen time after the death of a beloved character,” as The Take points out, leaving the viewer reeling from plot whiplash.
Ultimately, The Take supposes, Ted winding up with Robin pushes the series’ message of “insularity”—that the main five were the only people who really mattered, no matter how well Tracy fit into the picture. The show describes them as “the friends, neighbors, drinking buddies and partners in crime you love so much when you’re young,” much like the similarly themed Friends. But the mystery inherent in HIMYM’s title opened it up to rabid fan theories over many years—viewers so devoted to the series that when it didn’t turn out the way they (or anyone else, really) wanted, they were bound be much more vocal about that disappointment. Ted spent the whole series on an idiotic, single-minded search for the love of his life, but it seemed obvious to the rest of us that he had already reached relationship perfection with Marshall, Lily, Barney, and (platonic) Robin.
It’s a shame, because HIMYM had a ton of great episodes over the course of all those seasons. How about this: Rewatch “Slap Bet,” and if Robin Sparkles isn’t enough to get you to hang out with Marshall, Lily, and the gang again, you’re probably off the show for good.
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