[NOTE: Spoiler alert for those who wait for Netflix or haven’t seen the finale or much of the last season] I don’t watch a lot of television and shows that I actually stick with are even rarer. I’ve watched Seinfeld, Friends and now How I Met Your Mother from pilot to finale, that’s it. Of those, due to where I was in my life and the show’s characters, I most enjoyed HIMYM which ended a few weeks ago. Move along if you don’t really care, I understand, it wasn’t the most watched show.
For those who maybe haven’t seen the show, it’s about a group of friends who live in New York and are navigating the life of getting jobs, growing your career, starting a family and finding love (and sex). Barney is the most entertaining of the characters, a Game player and serial womanizer chasing after women throughout most of the series. Lily and Marshall are the longstanding couple who do couple things before anyone else, but have their own ups and downs as they both pursue their dreams and compromise themselves to do so. Robin is the woman with stereotypical manish values (likes scotch and hunting, can’t commit to relationships, doesn’t want kids, places a higher value on work over relationships/friendships, etc.). And the main character Ted Mosby, for who the show is named for, is the romantic dude who just wants to find “the one” and live happily ever after.
For nine years the series ran, with some great experiences and funny moments. I’ve probably missed a total of 5-10 episodes total in that time, so have a pretty good backlog of series history. Fans have had to see Lily decide to leave Marshall to go to San Francisco, come back regretful and trying to rectify her mistake. We’ve seen Ted and Robin get together, break up, missed opportunities and all that happens between a couple that isn’t quite right together but so desperately tries to be. We’ve seen Ted get into serious relationships and almost get married (to Stella and later to Victoria) only to have things not work out. Barney has been mostly static in his role through most of the series, until the arc with Robin.
The Naked Man. Slap Bet and all its iterations. Swarley. The best burger in New York. The slutty pumpkin. The Atlantic City episode for Barney’s bachelor party. Like any good or great sitcom series, there are episodes that come to mind right away. But it is the tapestry of the overall show that I enjoyed. The hanging with the friends at MacLaren’s. The stupid stuff you do while dating or trying to get that perfect job. Mistakes you made while starting a family and trying to keep the passions alive. All captured to some degree in this series.
I most identified with Ted, the romantic idealist intellectual, unlucky in love. Like him, my only game or move back when I was in that spot in life (i.e. Mr. Nice Guy-No Game) was “go big or go home” and more often than not didn’t work out. It was a shame that his desire to be with Robin dominated so much of the series, since Robin was one of those characters who you never really liked that much. She was in life for herself, moving away for jobs, never finding a man. Swallowed the typical agenda sold by feminists today. Somehow, Barney and her ended up working toward marriage. This was a situation where we all were in disbelief while it sucked some of the fun out of the Barney character.
The last two or three seasons had more duds than earlier ones, and the fact that the final season wrapped up a single day (the Barney/Robin marriage) was not something I loved. I enjoyed how they worked “the Mother” into and out of the season with the other characters and I think we were all surprised how much life she breathed back into the series as well as the chemistry she had with the Ted character. The producers had the ending, or at least an ending, in mind all the way back in season 2. They recognized early on that “the kids” that Ted/Bob Sagat narrator talks to would soon grow up so they had to shoot all the kid scenes early in the series, so committed early on to what would happen. I admire their long-standing vision, but locking into one ending so early left them little flexibility if they wanted to change things. Maybe the would have if they had the option. So the series finale – trying to go from 23 episodes that covered the final weekend and then taking the last episode and getting it to span maybe 15 or 20 years was a little dizzying due to the massive change in pacing. They devoted two or three years to the Robin-Barney thing then dissolved it in about a minute. That was odd. The Ted-Mother meeting, courtship and relationship while short, was really well done and heart warming. Barney having a kid scene was really great too, but honestly, my head was spinning from trying to take in so much information as they tried quickly to tie up loose ends and finish up their story after dragging so long on the wedding day. And then slamming the final Ted-Robin thing at the end – we saw it coming but still hoped we were wrong and the Mother would live. Robin just is not that likable for much of the series and while I know that the producers set those train tracks 8 years ago, it’s too bad they had to follow that train along the path.
All in all though, I was happy with how it ended, loved the series as a whole and am going to miss having any shows I look forward to watching. Apparently they have the spin-off concept of “How I Met Your Dad” which I’m sure I’ll check out, but I question if they’ll have the magic that Josh Radnor (Ted), Neil Patrick Harris (Barney), Jason Segal (Marshall), Alyson Hannigan (Lily) and Cobie Smothers (Robin) created. If you haven’t checked out the series much, it’s on Netflix (through Season 8).