It’s finally over. Last night, one of my favorite shows of all time took its final bow and left the stage darkened with characters and a story that can only be described as legen…wait for it…DARY. LEGENDARY! I settled in with my box of tissues, somewhat against my will. I considered making like Robin and locking myself in Marshall and Lily’s suburban bathroom, because then, it couldn’t possibly be over. Even though the 9th and final season has been somewhat of a disaster, (and I knew it was time for it to be over) I had trust and confidence that the end of the story wouldn’t let me down.
Holy shit, was I wrong! My reaction to the finale can be best described with the following…
Spoilers and HIMYM references abound below
There were things I loved and things I hated about the finale. Ultimately, though, I was left ugly crying because I was so upset with how the series ended. (Please don’t judge me.) I think whether or not you liked the finale depended upon whether or not you were Team Ted & Robin or, Tebin. Rob-ed. Mosbatsky? SCHERMOSB! Anyway, I was never Team Schermosb. I never entirely understood why he adored her so much. Sure, as a person she’s great, but they suck as a couple. They don’t really have anything in common, a point that is made continuously throughout the series. While they’re friends, she thinks he’s a major dork. Major Dork! I almost feel like it’s cheating. Now that Robin’s had a chance to have her career and Ted has the kids she never wanted to have, they’re free to be together now. Oh, and by the way, we had to destroy Robin and Barney’s marriage and kill off Ted’s wife, Tracy, to make it happen. And now, after an appropriate number of years, Ted can plow Robin like a cornfield.
Today, I re-watched the finale so I wouldn’t be relying totally on my emotional, snot-covered memory. And I made a list.
Emotional roller coaster
They did it! They finally pulled their shit together and managed their happily ever after! JUST KIDDING! Within 10 minutes of basking in the glow of their reception, Barney and Robin are having marital troubles and they’re divorced. Then there’s Tracy’s death. They alluded to her illness a few episodes ago, so I wasn’t shocked when she ended up dying. However, I was completely nauseated the way the writers just glossed over her death. While I suppose it makes some amount of sense to not completely delve into it, (after all, the kids already lived that. They don’t need it rehashed) it’s not very fair to the rest of us. We never had a chance to grieve her loss and recover. And then, to suddenly pivot from, Hey, Tracy died, to You still love Robin!…how are we, as an audience, supposed to handle that? The kids are apparently so well-adjusted that they’re totally fine with their dad telling them the story about how he’s obviously still in love with Aunt Robin. Boo! I don’t buy it. I just don’t see teenagers, whose mother died in their formative years, being totally cool with their dad not only asking their permission to bang her, (I said bang bang bangitty bang) but that he’s never really stopped loving Robin. As a fan, I felt betrayed because Ted tells his parents in the 2nd season that he’s going to tell his kids the story of how he meets their mother. This was a matter of principle. Not a vehicle by which to tell his kids about some other woman.
Through the lens of the story really being about Robin, I can understand why the season finale revolved around Robin. But why the fuck did it have to revolve around Robin? We’ve invested so much time in other characters and their journeys. I felt like Marshall and Lily got the, And here are some people, treatment. We don’t even get to see their kids, nor Barney’s daughter after their initial meeting. I understand why Robin had no interest in being around her womanizing ex husband and the man she realized she should have snatched up long ago, but what about her friendship with Lily? Yes, friendships evolve. But Robin might as well have left Lily a break up letter that said, Peace out, bee-yatch!
I was also bothered by the character regressions. We spent nine years watching Barney, Ted, and Robin grow and change. And within 20 minutes, they had all completely regressed. Barney’s all, If I couldn’t make it work, without really even trying, with someone who was just as selfish as me, then being a creepy old man is my next best option. Ted went back to being a starry-eyed fool over a woman. Luckily for him, this one actually worked out. And Robin, for all the emotional progress she made, chose to refuse to deal with shit and run away from her problems. I’m not saying she shouldn’t have had a fulfilling career, but that’s not what was going on there.
I know the following may sound stupid, but it probably makes sense for someone who didn’t understand how it’s snooty of Ted to point out spelling mistakes in a menu. Continuity errors! How HOW do you get the continuity of things so wrong in your own show? Lily’s hair is long when past episodes have it short. According to the episode where the guys watch the Trilogy every three years, Ted’s supposed to have a wedding ring to go along with that baby girl in 2015. Maybe it was supposed to show how much Ted had calmed down and stopped idealizing life, but I really don’t understand how they couldn’t make it work to have Ted and Tracy married within the 7 years after they met.
Overall, I was left feeling rushed. Season 9 shouldn’t have been the weekend before Robin and Barney’s wedding. We shouldn’t have had to endure a multi-episode arc of Marshall trying to make it to Farhampton. Season 9 should have been fleshed out and given everyone’s stories more time for closure.
Now that we’ve covered the ugly, let’s look at the good.
I didn’t want the entire post about the finale to be negative. There were some things I did love. I love the call backs to inside or running jokes for the fans: high fives; grape scotch; Halloween costumes; Marshall’s puns; Jim Nantz; Robots vs. Wrestlers; the Cockamouse!
I loved Ted’s interaction with his daughter, Penny, when she was a little girl. I loved how she was a little Ted.
I liked the conversation Ted and Tracy had under the yellow umbrella where they first met, (which is where the show should have ended!)
If, in the end, it had to be Robin, I’m glad for the blue French horn. That, at least, was honest.
I was happy for the evolution that was coaxed back out of Barney with the birth of his daughter, Ellie. The scene where he meets his daughter evoked my first ugly cry of the evening. And it made me tear up again on the second watching.
The other reason I cried was that it was the end of an era. This cast would never play these characters again. This cast, who performed as Ted, Marshall, Lily, Barney, and Robin impeccably. All of my problems with the finale had to do with the writing and story decisions. But I have only good things to say about Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, and Cobie Smulders. I actually had a chance to see the group appear on Inside the Actor’s Studio the other night. It really drove home for me just how good these actors really are. During the finale, I was struck by how emotional and raw Alyson was. NPH revealed, once again, just how versatile and evocative an actor he is with Barney, a high functioning sociopath one moment and a heart of gold that leaves you disarmed and bawling the next. The chemistry between Josh Radnor and the amazing Cristin Milioti was warm and comforting. Not once did I question that these two belonged together. While Cristin played quirky flawlessly, she was not just a female Ted. I am still haunted by the talk with her first love who had passed on, followed by a bittersweet performance of La Vie en Rose. She and Ted were two puzzle pieces, meant to interlock and complete the picture.