As I read comments on Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs deriding the finale to this nine-season run of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ as a bad M. Night Shyamalan twist – these people cannot get this finale more wrong. They call it ‘horrible’ that the last five minutes rewrote so much of histories and development between characters over the past seasons, especially this one; but, no, Bays and Thomas didn’t rewrite or ignore what they’ve shown us – the characters chose their own fate. ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is genuinely one of the most humanistic sitcoms on television: character with pet peeves, specific ways of saying phrases, personal issues with others, and how they interact with their world as far as introducing new catchphrases to society. Life is not perfect, and neither are humans. The whole show has been an ongoing saga of this very thesis – discovering the humor in our relationships and personalities while coaxing an appreciation of the current; and, this is why the humor has endured for nine seasons.
People seem to be working off the notion that there was a singular love story in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ – Ted and the Mother, Tracy – but, there has always been the story with Robin and the rest of the ensemble. Love is complicated, love doesn’t make sense, love isn’t logical; but, love can be real and sometimes cannot leave us even if we try to excise it in heartbreak. Life isn’t helpful either in this equation; and, it will make us do weird things and make even weirder ones happen. As much as the writers had dedicated an unchangeable fate to the Mother of this saga, Ted’s love for her was just as unchangeable – unwavering throughout the series as he always dreamed of when he would be with that woman he loves. This is exceptionally prescient in ‘The Time Travelers’ episode when he has his closing words, “With you, I want each one of them. And if I can’t have them, I’ll take the forty-five seconds it takes before your boyfriend shows up and punches me in my face. Because… I love you. I’m always gonna love you. ‘Til the end of my days, and beyond.”
‘How I Met Your Mother’ has always been a show about embracing both the big and small moments in life, the creation of memories with people, and moving on with life when they will inevitably change. Life is unknowable and unpredictable; but, people change in the flows of life. There are beginnings and (maybe) endings to love stories – or all types of stories – but we never know what order they may be in or if they run in direct parallel with each other. Even if Ted ends up with Robin at the end of this story (while a finale, the story is still in progression just like life), nothing changes about his love for Tracy and their two kids, even if he ‘moves on’ and seeks out continuing an old romance with someone from his past. We can complain that Ted moved on from Robin over and over and over again throughout the series; but, it wasn’t the right time of life for them two – and, this moment could just be as Ted found his love and has his two wondrous kids who affirm his decision to seek her out. In another layering, these same principles apply to Tracy and our introduction to her life and losing her love, Max – who is to question if she will meet him in the beyond? Our lives are interwoven with narratives and we don’t necessarily understand all of them; and, this is exactly what the show has been showing us for nine seasons: narratives never have a linear flow, they are ‘wibbly-wobbly’ in what constitutes our timeline of existence.
Tonight’s episode showed me one thing: we might have a one true love; but, we can have others to love – and it’s about how we let ourselves love others and adapt to whatever life throws our way. Stories are constantly in flux, and we cannot let ourselves stop from living our lives. We can’t blame Ted for being human in responding to what transpired in life.