Kids, around Thanksgiving 2010 I became aware of a show called How I Met Your Mother.
I binge-watched the first few seasons and fell in love with hopeless romantic Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) and his cohorts.
Afterward, I followed along week by week so I could laugh as Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) executed scenarios from his Playbook, hypothesize the importance of Robin (Cobie Smulders) and cry when Lily (Alyson Hannigan) told Marshall (Jason Segel) his dad died.
I came to feel as though I were invited into their booth at MacLaren’s while hearing these stories.
When it was announced the show was coming to an end after nine long seasons, I accepted the bittersweet challenge of saying goodbye to a tale so well-told because I trusted my on-screen friends to guide me to a proper conclusion.
And, flash forward to today, I believe they did.
However, after waiting a legendarily long time for Monday’s series finale, one thing became clear to me: If I had really been part of their friend group, they would have given me an intervention about my obsession with their story much sooner. They would have reminded me that no matter how creative, poignant or thoughtfully designed I deemed it, it’s a story made for a TV show.
Better yet, it’s a TV show where I and many other fans got wrapped up in semantics and lost track of its point.
Like any die-hard viewer of HIMYM, I was strung along from detail to detail and season to season waiting for the clues that would finally lead Ted to divulge how he met the mother—and why it was such a long and important tale.
And in the end—spoiler alert—all of the viewer-generated theories that sought to answer that question were kind of correct. I almost wish I were joking.
A lot happened in this show’s finale. Among those things were babies, a wedding, a divorce, a death and several reunions. That’s a lot to cram into a 44-minute episode.
But if any show could pull it off, it’d be How I Met Your Mother.
Throughout its entire run, HIMYM has been a show that cared about each and every one of its 9,125 scenes. With its flash-forwards, flashbacks and its long-winded story arcs, it seemed to effortlessly provide viewers the consistency and continuity that most shows overlook. And fans paid attention.
As the finale neared, my heart sank as I read online speculations that Ted’s motive for telling the story was because The Mother was dead.
It took so long for us to meet her.
But since every scene can later be circled back to, fans knew Ted’s season eight wish for 45 more days with his future wife could serve as plausible justification for ‘The Mother’s Dead’ Theory, just as much as a seemingly off-handed exchange of dialogue during this season’s ‘Vesuvius’ episode could nail her into the coffin.
That’s the thing about HIMYM: It never makes off-handed comments. In this show, everything—for better or worse—happens for a reason.
This entire season was dedicated to Barney and Robin’s wedding. In the finale’s flash-forward to three years from last week’s ceremony, Robin and Barney divorce. Season nine may now seem like a waste of time, but it wasn’t. It showcased all the little character nuances that punctuated why the two were flawed for the marriage, let alone one another.
And as far as the long-awaited reveal of The Mother (Tracy, played by Cristin Milioti) and the moment when Ted meets her, that was all the show ever promised. It delivered that.
Viewers, myself included, still had time to fall in love with her quirks. She was the perfect match. Yet the reason she wasn’t introduced until the end of the eighth season even suggests the final moral of the story: It was never really about her, just how Ted met her.
From the very title, the show has been about Ted. From the pilot episode, Ted’s attention has been on Robin. For better or worse, that story-line came full-circle.
It may not have been the finale I’d have written for my beloved series, but I’m satisfied. It answered my lingering questions—except for why Future Ted sounded like Bob Saget for so long—and it even kept me laughing, hypothesizing and crying all the way to its much-hyped, controversial finish. ◼︎