I’m not a big fan of TV shows. There are very few that I make the time to watch – I’ve always preferred movies and books to TV, but HIMYM is one of the few exceptions, and I admit, these past few weeks I got sucked into the finale frenzy, and I sat up until 2am waiting for a decent quality copy of the big finale to appear online, despite my early start this morning.
It’s pretty clear from a quick glance at Twitter that the HIMYM, like all sitcom and drama finales, has divided opinions. You can’t just have ‘liked’ the HIMYM finale – it’s a marmite situation. I myself came away bitterly disappointed, but not at all surprised. I was, I guess, ‘team Swarkles’ (actually, I was team ‘why does Robin have to end up with someone?’), and Ted pissed me off from day one. Ted pissed me off so much, that while I first saw HIMYM back in about 2007-2008, it wasn’t until last year that I finally got into it and caught up in time for the final season. I hate his whiny, self-absorbed, snooty personality clogging up an otherwise great show. I also can’t stand Lily. She’s a bitch.
Then again, I can’t deny that it’s a great show. Blatantly inspired by Friends, it has all the same base characters; the couple (Monica/Chandler, Lily/Marshall), the will-they-won’t-they couple (Ross/Rachel, Ted/Robin), the slightly adorable comedy gem (Joey – and Chandler too! And in HIMYM, Barney). And I always found Phoebe ridiculous and unnecessary – and a complete bitch. So I’m glad that she, as a character, has not been re-imagined.
Don’t read any further if you haven’t yet seen the finale. Spoilers!
Last night’s finale answered a lot of necessary questions including the big ones: the mother’s name, how they meet and of course, who gets a ‘happily ever after’ ending.
Barney and Robin get a divorce within the first half of the finale. As much as I prefer her with Barney than Ted, I saw this coming as soon as it was revealed that Robin becomes a successful news anchor who travels around the world, I just though… Barney doesn’t seem like someone who would want to travel the world. And yes – her travelling drives them apart after just three years.
Reverting back to his womanizing ways, it’s revealed that the only girl he ever truly falls for is his accidentally conceived baby daughter, Ellie. I didn’t anticipate this, but when it happened, it made sense and suddenly seemed obvious that this is what they had been building to all along.
Nothing surprising happens with Marshall and Lily. They have baby number three, Marshall becomes a judge and later, a judge of the Supreme court (lovingly dubbed ‘Judge Fudge’ and later ‘Fudge Supreme’ by the gang). With three kids in tow, they of course have to move out of the apartment – minus the big Friend-esque ‘goodbye house’ scene.
As for Ted, we learn that his wife’s name is Tracy McConnell. They take a surprisingly long time to get married, their fairy tale wedding being indefinitely postponed on finding that she’s pregnant with Penny. They do eventually get married, though. And then… Tracy gets sick. Very sick. Those fan theories were right – the mother is dead.
It had been hinted at, of course, and thinking about it now, it was pretty obvious throughout. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t piss me off, all the same. Purely because of the inevitable Robin and Ted ending that followed – the kids give their blessing for him to ask out ‘Aunt Robin’, and he arrives outside her bedroom window with the blue french horn, just as he did back in season 1.
I’m not a fan of corny, and that is undeniably corny. But more so, why does Robin have to be with someone? Earlier in the series, Ted said that Robin was ‘never alone’, and yet, during the ten years or so between divorcing Barney and finally ending up with Ted, it’s made clear that she’s pretty lonely, despite her successful career and slightly nomadic lifestyle. She distances herself from the group because, as she points out to Lily, the gang consists of a married couple who are about to have their third child, her ex husband who is back to his womanising ways and ‘the guy I probably should have ended up with, with the beautiful mother of his child’. That’s life – people drift apart, life choices drive us away from each other. Why couldn’t Robin have lived happily, independent and successful, travelling the world but still making an effort to be there for ‘the big moments’, as she was in the first half of the finale. Why does she have to be lonely? Lily seems to spend the duration of the show selfishly complaining that she’s never around anymore, as she does.
It seems like they decided to give Ted his perfect happy ending. He always wanted Robin, but it was just impossible – he wanted kids, she didn’t. He wanted to raise his kids in the suburbs, she wanted to live in Japan or Argentina or wherever else took her fancy. So, easy solution, give Ted a wife to have kids with in the suburbs and spend a decade or so together, polishing pennies and admiring NYC’s architecture. Then kill off the wife. Bam. Ted finally gets the girl.
Surely Ted and Robin are impossible at working as Robin and Barney? Even more so, considering that Swarkles divorced because of her travelling for work, which would surely be an issue considering he has two kids in school to think about, as well as his own career and his general dislike for travelling far. Or would that problem be neatly resolved too with an early retirement for Robin at the tender age of fifty?
No, had I been the writer of HIMYM, I’d have done things very differently. The mother – Tracy – would not die. She and Ted would live happily together, as they were perfect for each other. They would live in the suburbs with their kids, and no doubt Marshall and Lily would live nearby with their own trio of kids. Barney would have his daughter to dote on, and Robin would simply be alone but happy, dropping by whenever she was in the neighborhood. There’s Skype, right! Or the 2030 equivalent… I’d cut out all of the ‘lonely Robin needs Ted to be happy’ crap.
And there was me thinking that the inclusion of a strong, independent, feminist character like Robin in the show was a big leap forward compared to the ‘everyone gets married and has children’ endings of so many past shows – including my favourite, Friends.
Ah well… I wonder how Big Bang Theory will end, when its own finale finally comes. I really hope it’s not a Shamy wedding…