Some of the best sitcoms in TV history have been those that carefully balance comedy with heart, to create characters the audience can root for. Emerging in a time where many sitcoms were dying off, How I Met Your Mother defied all expectations to last nine seasons. Tonight the curtain falls on How I Met Your Mother, and we finally reach the bittersweet end where Ted will meet his wife-to-be.
It seemed like a real combo-breaker when they announced that the final season would take place over a single weekend, away in the seaside town of Farhampton. While the emotional factor has been amped up to drive home the overarching messages of the series, many laughs were had along the way.
Growing up and taking leaps
We meet the group in their mid-twenties, years after college, working to establish themselves in New York. Even though when we meet Marshall and Lily, they are already engaged, and Ted announces that he is also ready to settle down (not yet buddy), these five friends have a lot of growing up left to do. When you’re in your teens or twenties and there’s a constant pressure to be more mature, more professional, more… everything than you are, it is immensely reassuring to have a TV show say “It’s okay. You have so much farther to go, don’t rush it.”
After years of inside jokes and references with this fictional group of friends, character development has been nothing but satisfying. In Season 4’s last episode, we saw the characters take an iconic leap across a gap between rooftops, as they stood on the precipices of major life changes. By the end of the series’ penultimate episode, we find them in a similar place, not quite certain of the future but at least certain that their next steps are the right ones.
The show enjoys the message that love happens in the most unlikely of places. Lily knocked on a random door in freshman year and met Marshall. Against all odds, the commitment averse Robin and Barney found themselves falling for each other. All of Ted’s major romances have occurred when he wasn’t specifically looking for a romance. Now, hours away from moving to Chicago, little does he know who will also be waiting at Farhampton station that night but the girl with the yellow umbrella.
Love is a complicated concept, even the “I-Love-You” slut himself, Ted, has changing views on love throughout the series. Don’t settle for your Beinahe leidenschafts gegenstand (“the thing that is almost the thing that you want… but it’s not quite”) just because you think you have a limited number of beautiful lighthouses or that you can only win jackpot once.
“Lottery” scene in 9.16 “How Your Mother Met Me”
Who is “The Mother”?
For a show called How I Met Your Mother, I wouldn’t be surprised to find people who have never seen the show who conclude it’s misogynistic to revolve a show around the pursuit of a person who is only known by a role in the family.
Whether or not she receives a name by the end of the series finale, the writers make a point to show motherhood is not the be all end all for The Mother. 100 episodes before “How Your Mother Met Me” in Season 9, we learn that she is university-educated, she plays bass guitar, and she enjoys making breakfast foods sing showtunes.
By now, we’ve seen these facts in action and also learn that she’s incredibly kind-hearted, she is studying Econ to prevent world poverty, she was a bit of a detective, she becomes an author, and like Ted, she doesn’t always take her own advice.
A celebration of friendship
There were (depressing) reminders dropped throughout the series that their friendship would change over the years and they wouldn’t always be as close as we see them during the show, but that’s life. After Robin and Barney’s wedding, the gang will effectively split up for the first time in eight years according to the show’s timeline.
‘La Vie en Rose’ scene from 9.16 “How Your Mother Met Me”
Through the eyes of these characters, the audience is shown the value of friendship: people whom you can laugh with and laugh at; people who will sing musical numbers with you; people who will make up a hangover cure to help you rally; friends who will support you when you have to make the hard choices but also call you out when you make stupid mistakes.
In episode 9.19 “Vesuvius,” they allow themselves to think about the uncertainty around when they’ll next be all together again. With no mention of Mt. Vesuvius in the episode, the ominous title hangs like a dark cloud over the episode. There is an inevitability to their impending absence from each other’s lives, and in that moment, it’s easier to focus on the strength of their friendship as it exists in the present moment.
The group ponder about the future in 9.19 “Vesuvius”
You are the protagonist of your story
Ted is the centre of How I Met Your Mother, but with people come and go in his life, effectively intertwining their stories with his. As a master storyteller, Ted also manages to care about how the stories of secondary characters in his life eventually end.
That is why we have gotten long-term updates on the stories of people such as Wendy the Waitress, Randy Wharmpess, The Captain and Boats Boats Boats, and thanks to episode 9.21 “Gary Blauman,” we get closure on the stories of a dozen more people who crossed paths with Ted and over the years. (Best one: Ranjit went from Taxi Driver to Limo Driver to Owner of the whole limo business! You go Ranjit!)
The ending scene to episode 9.21 “Gary Blauman”
It’s interesting when you realize your friends are all the leading stars of their own stories. All supporting or minor characters are important if they help you get to where you want or need to be. We’re all making our way through the world, but if there’s anything to take away from How I Met Your Mother, know that the journey is so much more legendary when you welcome the company of people who love you.
In 2005, we met Ted Mosby in 2030 as he began the long and arduous tale of How I Met Your Mother. In 25 years I hope I end up with just as good of a story to tell.
All images belong to CBS.