I, like a lot of people, was very excited for yesterday’s How I Met Your Mother finale. Not only because I think it is one of the most consistent American comedy series on the air but because we were promised an answer to the most burning question of the series. Ever since the first episode showed us that Ted met the eponymous ‘mother’ at Barney’s wedding, fans have been frightfully excited to discover the bride who has managed to tame the wild beast.
And, spoiler alert, we did. It was Robin.
I have a couple of questions: one, was anyone surprised? And two, what has it dramatically achieved?
I don’t think anyone was surprised. That doesn’t mean it was a bad reveal though, because I think most people wanted it to be Robin. They are a great example of how audiences can get behind contradictory couples: we all wanted Robin and Ted (although we knew they were doomed) and then we all wanted Robin and Barney. Even though Barney proposed to Quinn in this episode, I think everyone knew that Robin is really the only one for him.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have qualms. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have written this.
First off, why drag this out so long? I think this is a major flaw of HIMYM; sometimes it is too afraid to wrap up big story-lines. I have this vision of the writers always planning into the future, dropping little hints for us and forgetting to set things up in the present. There is no proper reason why they shouldn’t just be together now: everything keeping them apart has felt like a major conceit all season and, now we see that the reason for this has been for an ‘amazing’ reveal we all guessed anyway. It’s not really enough. I don’t think anyone is rooting more for them now than they were before. This is nowhere near as shocking as finding out it was Barney’s wedding, for example. Why not save both reveals for the finale? It seems both overly contrived and not shocking enough to work dramatically.
My second issue is why get married at all? The reason Robin and Barney work as a couple in the first place is their desire not to live out the dreams of their friends: marriage, children etc. Both of them detested the tradition and all it stood for, eloquently and without drama. But now the show has forced them both to seek the same end as Ted and Lily and Marshall: how dull! [I want to stress I do not mean Robin's infertility story-line, which I think was beautifully and brilliantly handled.] Robin and Barney should be together forever, sure, but why does that mean married? Why do all US comedies feel the only way to wrap up their characters is to marry them off? They can be happy without being married: it’s the real journey those characters needed to go on and they’ve been robbed of it.
My final point is where does that leave us with the mother? I do think the show has dragged this out too long: there is no reason why the reveal of the mother has to be the end of the show. All it needs to be is interesting and intriguing enough to keep us watching and talking. We now know when we’ll met her but also that it is another whole season away. I, frankly, think they need to get on with it. I’m sure when she arrives it’ll tie up with a detail in every episode, that the whole thing has been one perfect construction. But Ted’s character cannot develop until you introduce her: he’s been stagnating so much they tried to persuade us he’s been in love with Robin all this time, an idea with no pathos because it just wasn’t consistent with his character. He’s becoming unlikable the longer you drag this out, and that’s only going to alienate viewers.
So, writers, please heed my advice. This reveal has been poorly handled, although I am pleased with the conclusion. Don’t squander the mother reveal, which I’m sure I will love even more, with equally poor pacing. Please! We all want it to be legend…wait for it…. dary!