Why I’m Defending the HIMYM Finale

We’re about to have a new contender for most criticized series finale in the history of television. How I Met Your Mother just ended its nine-year run with an episode that’s already causing riots on the Internet.

Super quick recap:

  • Barney and Robin get divorced.

  • The Mother dies.

  • Ted and Robin end up together.

People are rightfully pissed off, because the show spent years trying to put Barney and Robin together, move Ted and Robin apart and set up the eventual meeting with the mother. In the 60 minute finale, this was all undone. How is that fair?

I agree with Alan Sepinwall. It’s not, but that’s what happens when a show explodes in popularity late in its life and has to extend its run. HIMYM was a show that was always on the cancellation block until Britney Spears guest starred in an episode in the 3rd season. The episode, Everything Must Go, is widely credited with bringing new fans to the show. That, coupled with HIMYM’s newfound popularity on Netflix, made the show a staple in CBS’ lineup.

HIMYM ran for six more seasons. While the concept of the show was unique, it couldn’t survive nine seasons. Hell, it could barely survive six. HIMYM lost its fastball years ago. It had started to produce more bad episodes than good. But the show was a massive hit, so production couldn’t just stop. It had to continue. This is never a good trend for high-concept shows.

I also buy Sepinwall’s theory that the creators of HIMYM always wanted Ted to end up with Robin, but couldn’t make her the mother in the pilot because the show wouldn’t have been picked up. Could you imagine a TV executive watching the pilot and going “so what, he met the mother. Your show is already over.” Instead, they threw in this curveball:

If you think about it form a big picture standpoint, and take into account the realities of making television and telling stories, this makes sense. But no one thinks that way. We’re supposed to think about stories, not the making of a story. I do fault the HIMYM creators for this, but I understand why they failed.

As for the finale itself? I was kind of impressed with their ability to get a little dark. Most shows end with happy endings, so it can be jarring when we see bad things happen to the characters we love – especially in light-hearted shows like HIMYM.

Although divorce and death are a part of life, most fans of HIMYM are watching for an escape from the difficulties of real life. They don’t want to face it head on. A few other finales that went dark, think Roseanne or Dinosaurs, were met with negative response. Hell, Dinosaurs ended with an entire civilization dying. Never a good idea.

Personally, I will miss HIMYM. Even though it had lost its fastball, it was still a staple in my weekly lineup. I still watched the show for all nine years. I still remember how amazing the first season was, one of my favorite seasons in the history of television.

So ya, it’s hard to say goodbye to the show, even if it’s good that it’s ending. Sort of life putting down an old dog. It’s for the best to end the suffering, but it isn’t easy.

Despite all its troubles, the show was still legend … wait for it ….