Television Top 20s: How I Met Your Mother - Finale Failures and Series Successes
Kids (readers), it's time you heard the story of one of the most original, beautiful, and shamefully ended shows in television history. How I Met Your Mother, or HIMYM, was easily a premise that audiences loved and kept us in stitches and suspense for each and every episode throughout nine seasons (until dropping the ball with the finale). Delivering laughs, tears, thought-provoking incidents, and loads of romance, the show's impact lasted long after its time-slot and made its way into blogs, dreams, and conversations of millions of people all over the US and in every country where it was broadcast . . . including Canada. Each episode was a beautiful romp and touching chapter in the lives of five friends in beautiful New York City,
So, let's explore the failures that turned a finale to one of the greatest shows ever made into a train-wreck while celebrating the numerous successes that made the rest of the series something to enjoy for years to come in all its awesomeness. It's going to be legend- wait for it -dary!
Finale Failure #1: Rushed Storylines
22 minutes running time in order to have 8 minutes of commercials doesn't seem like much time to get in a really good story, and it isn't; however, somehow HIMYM managed to do the impossible with each episode until the finale. The concepts of the numerous directions in which they wanted each character to go were done so quickly that some of them were downright glossed over including the 'death of the mother', Barney and Robin's divorce, and Barney's transition to fatherhood. Maybe it would've been better to take the new Hollywood angle and turn the finale into 4 episodes (the formula for 2-movies for one final book installment) instead of just two and give the audience a chance to appreciate the greatness the show had once displayed.
Series Success #1: Running Gags that Always Worked!
What's a serial comedy without a few running gags? To name a few the catch-phrases 'suit up', 'lawyered', and so on kept the audience remembering that these were long-time friends who had lives with aspects all their own. And let's not forget the infamous 'slap bet' that even got its own theme song!
Barney's obsession with laser tag even as an adult also led to not only an incredible amount of running gags, but to one of the most romantic gestures for a wedding rehersal dinner ever!
And how could anyone forget teen Canadian Pop-Sensation Robin Sparkles? Well, Robin wishes we would, especially after 3 embarrassing music videos were discovered in the show (making us all want to go to the mall) as well as long-lost episodes of a kids television show about how fun math in space with beavers is!
And lest we forget, the Lily Aldrin 'You're Dead to Me' look that seems like something right out of a Stephen King adaptation! This one led to some thought-provoking issues, lots of laughs, and some great nightmare fuel!
Finale Failure #2: Too Many Complications
A show is nothing without conflict, but too many conflicts and side stories make audiences lose interest, attention, and a great deal of good will they once held for the show. The addition of so many travels for Robin (instead of mentioning them as had been done before), the complications of Ted not marrying when he said he would as well as getting Tracy pregnant out of wedlock whhich made no sense for the couple, and Marshall's quick jumps to judge and supreme court just made us roll our eyes,
Series Success #2: The Harmonious Balance of Funny and Tragedy
What would any story about life be without drama? Robin finding out that she cannot have children made audiences weep as the thoughts of her future children faded away, Lily leaving for a summer and tearing apart her relationship was almost unbearable, but the incident that made us most teary-eyed and distraught was the death of Marshall's father. So how did the show go on to deal with the loss? Tailgating in the cemetery with a Vikings game . . . jost what father would've wanted!
Finale Failure #3: The Dreaded 'Off Screen Disease' and Death
This fatal, but common death among television shows and many earlier films (not many good ones these days use them or have ever used them well) is simply there just for a necessary plot point. In this case, because we were hearing the story of the mother and she was the enigmatic focus, it only served to infuriate fans particularly when no gratuitous funeral scene or even headstone scene was shown.
*The Nostalgia Critic owns the coined phrase 'Dreaded Off-Screen Disease'!
Success #3: Genuine Friendships Shown at Different Angles
Whether it's offering the truth, experiencing a new part of the city, keeping someone from making a mistake, or (as is shown here) helping someone through a crisis-induced hangover, each of the friends had their own method of comforting and caring for one another. Barney's famous secret ingredient hangover, when finally needed for him, was shown to have only the secret ingredient of being there for his friends.
Finale Failure #4: Out of Character Characters
It seemed like every life lesson the group had learned, including a few by the stable and hardcore amazing Lily and Marshall were just tossed aside in the name of emotional affairs, hostile outbursts, forgetting romance in the name of sex, and so on. What happened to you Ted? A hopeless romantic looking for his wife and you wait seven years and at least one child later before proposing?! That was seven more years you could've had her as your wife if she was contracting that fatal Off-Screen Disease!
Series Success #4: The Three Relationship Dynamics Shown
Each couple was a great example of one of the three main couple-type paradigms discussed in couple's counseling. There was the complementary, completion, and soul mate. Who was what? Let's see:
Marshall and Lily: Complementary and Nurturing/Strengthening Couple
Lily and Marshall come from very different backgrounds and so their personalities both match and complement one another. Lily's adamant need to nurture is supported by Marshall's kind manner of being aggressive for all the right reasons.
Barney and Robin: Completion and Learning/Growing Together Couple
Barney was raised by a negligent mother and Robin by a girl-hating father so both became a tangled neurotic mess that led straight to selfishness in an effort to preserve and protect themselves. Fortunately, once their walls were mostly broken down, the two learned honesty, trust, hope, and selflessness thus both completing what the other needed and offering a pseudo good-mother or good-father figure for the two!
Ted and Tracy: The Soul-Mate Personal Match Couple
Some people say that certain couples are just made for each other and seem to be a carbon-copy of the other. Ted and Tracy are both hopeless romantics, single in the City that Never Sleeps, and have curious bumps and quirks of the same kind that make them perfect for one another!
Finale Failure #5: Baby-Factory Lily
This goes along with being out of character, but is much more offensive to the character's purpose in the group and her behavior in the finale. Pregnant with their third child throughout most of the episode, Lily ceases to try her hardest to keep the group together, make as many memories last as possible, or even stop Ted and Robin's emotional affairs. While we know people change after having multiple children, Lily is in her 30s, a time when your personality has essentially solidified and it was a disservice to Lily's previous wisdom and heart to make her so casual about the travesties going on around her and to instead, just be there to be pregnant.
Series Success #5: Seeing Neil Patrick Harris Perform Magic
See this egg, this ordinary egg? Barney Stinson is about to do something amazing with it.
If you don't already know, Neil Patrick Harris who portrays Barney Stinson, is the head of the American Academy of Magic and Magicians, is a Magician, and has a whole room in his home dedicated to such!
So first we had the egg and then . . . POOF!
Now it's a dove, and a great example of how the creators incorporated the actors' real talents into their unqique roles!
Finale Failure #6: Building Up an Underdeveloped and Unmourned Character
If the show was entitled, How I Met Your Mother, why weren't more details about the mother's personality given? Granted we know she's a cellist and plays the ukulele (specifically La vie En Rose), takes deep breaths before a decision, and uses a yellow umbrella. We understand not revealing a name, age, or even the face, but let's have some reminiscing about how the mother was 'always doing/saying/thinking something' or some more insight into her personality without giving her name and face away. She was so underdeveloped that neither Ted nor the children seemed to be that broken up about her devastating death which, in reality, affects families for years especially if you're sitting through a detailed story about how she came to be in Ted's life!
Series Success #6: Coping With Stress and Disappointments
There were a number of hilarious and healthy ways our characters were shown to deal with their disappointments, betrayals, and stresses. Some of our favorites were 'Aldrin Justice' where Lily treats the assailant like the child they are being and, of course, literally breaking down walls with a sledge hammer!
Finale Failure #7: Destiny Flies By
The build up to actually meeting the mother was a perfect set-up with a stranger pointing her out, Ted being ready to leave, the yellow umbrella, and the pouring rain . . . that should havve lasted much longer than it did and could've actually made the ending of the show itself which would've been widely and lovingly received by fans as amazing. It would've been perfectly cliche' for Ted and finally got us to the long-awaited mother. Instead, there was a short conversation and then on to the rest of the horrors that awaited in the finale.
Series Success #7: Original Humor and Twists on Old Favorites
The legendary 'Cockamouse', fear of the word 'moist', and even Barney's constant accepting of challenges were original works of amazing humor. But there were also some great displays of old humorous concepts; one of the audiences' favorites being the shoulder devil/shoulder angel in a Halloween episode advising Ted about public urination!
Finale Failure #8: No Photo Album or Voice Over Montages
Robin and Barney Got married: photo album. Marshall and Lily went to Rome: photo album or several albums. Daisy was born: photo album. All throughout the show we saw montages of mundane and important montages of Lily's famous photo albums. So where were they in the finale when at least six major events (including Marshall's two huge promotions) took place? We were all really looking forward to seeing at least a montage album of eating real pizza in Rome!
Series Success #8: The Flashbacks
Everyone loves flashbacks in a show, but the 'censored' flashbacks Ted was regaling to his kids had so many amazing details about where certain traits and characters came from! Take Ted's snooty ex-girlfriend who showcased Ted's desire for culture, his college hopefulness, and Lily's meddling with relationships all along in various stages!
There was, of course, also Hippie Barney, who was the exact opposite of the suit-wearing, neurotic, self-centered man we know from the series!
Finale Failure #9: What About Ted's Family?
It's implied that Ted's mother dies, but we never know if the fight she had with her boyfriend was reconciled, how his mother really died, or what happened to his womanizing father. These were all very important points that could have been revealed in short conversation!
Series Success #9: The Romantic Gestures that Never Died
From the 'date to end all dates', 'The Robin Scherbatsky' which ended in a proposal from the now discarded Playbook, the infamous Blue French Horn issue that started the whole thing, to Marshall's greeting with a marching band for his Lilypad that made us all weep; every romantic gesture was heartfelt and wonderfully over the top in the series making it so good we always wanted more!
Finale Failure #10: Robin and Ted's Implied Emotional Affairs
Be it Robin cheating on Barney or Ted cheating on Tracy, the inappropriately close relationship that Ted and Robin had is known as an 'emotional affair' and they were implied to be everywhere (after all, even married to Tracy Ted was still in love with Robin according to the finale even after decrying it in the previous episode, believably so). Emotional affairs are serious problems for relationships and are as bad as physical infidelity because they make the parties breach a deeper level of trust. This was offensive and off-putting to so many audiences and rightfully so. Shame on you, Robin, but especially shame on you, Ted.
Series Success #10: Celebrations!
It's great to see friends celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, house-warmings, and promotions, but this gang celebrated each other's personal victories as well and they did it with just as much emphasis as the bigger moments. The favorite way of starting a celebration or accentuating it? Why the numerous types of 'high five' of course!
Honorable Mention: Barney Becomes a Father
Despite all the flaws that had made us furious by this point, the very moment Barney first holds his daughter as a single father touched our hearts in a big way . . . offering her everything he had and unconditional love with the best acting I have ever seen on a sit-com with a baby. If you didn't cry at this scene, you might want to see a doctor!
So there it is, the good, the bad, and the adorable. HIMYM was a cultural staple and will probably continue to be so despite the flop of a finale that not only has a petition (several actually) circulating for a re-write or another episode stating the last was a joke and even a school of thought claiming that it was an April Fool's hoax.
How should the show have ended? With Ted meeting his soul-mate in the rain under the umbrella, of course (and none of the out of character divorces or bed-hopping)! Cut back to the kids with Bob Saget's voice stating, "And well, you kids know most of the rest of the story." Then from the other room the mother's voice calls out, "Kids! Go on to bed, it's a school night! Is your father telling you one of his stories? Those things take years to finish!" (Oh yeah, and we cut out the whole off-screen death thing, too . . . that was a cheap shot, writers).
See? Comedic gold. Even so, if you leave off the finale, you've got one great series that will never get old and never cease to be legend- wait for it -dary!