*Disclaimer, contains spoilers*
Since last night my Facebook news feed has been inundated with comments about HIMYM’s closing episode (most of them not good). Lots of people were disappointing with how the show ended, while others said they predicted the ended, but were still sad that it happened the way they thought it would. Now me I didn’t even attempt to predict what would happen in the saga’s last episode. Maybe because I was in denial about the shows ending. Or maybe because it was a show I never dared try to predict. Why you ask? And honestly I will tell you, I don’t know. I love the show, it makes me laugh, cry and smile (sometimes all at once). But then again, maybe that’s why I didn’t predict it. I knew no matter what HIMYM would provide me with the 30 minute escape I needed from my life. And for years (even today) it did. Will I say the last episode was the best, no. But I don’t think it’s the huge disappointment that many people are calling it.
Think about it rationally (if you can). The director, writers, producers, and actors have given this wonderful show 9 years of their blood, sweat and tears. And I can promise you that no one is more distraught over the shows end than they are. They probably had about a hundred ideas about how to end the series, but they had to pick one (okay maybe 2 or 3), and fit it all into 40-45 minutes. This means that they had about 40 pages (which in screen writing speak is about 40 minutes) to wrap up Lily and Marshall’s story, Ted and Tracy’s (Mother) story, Robin and Barney’s story, the groups story, * spoilers* then Barney’s story, then Robin’s story, then Ted’s story. Once you break that down it roughly equals out to about 6 pages (or minutes) for each closing story, which isn’t a lot of time to put a nice little bow on the finale that the audience so craved.
I would also like to point out that HIMYM remains to this day a romantic comedy, even though some people argue the genre diverted from romantic comedy to drama. Who here knows the difference between a romantic comedy and a drama? *raises arm up emphatically* I do!!! According to McDonald (2007) “a romantic comedy is a film which has as its central narrative motor a quest for love, which portrays this quest in a light-hearted way and almost always to a successful conclusion.” And McKenzie (2013) says Drama films deliver “the emotional and relational development of realistic characters in a realistic setting. It offers intense character development and tells an honest story of human struggle”. The best way to sum this up a comedy is to say it makes us smile, chuckle, and roar with laughter; where dramas make us reflect, worry, and cry. Now stop and think of the last episode, which of the two sets of words applies more to the episode over-all (not just the last few minutes)?
In this episode Lily and Marshall have a few exciting moments. We hear about the announcement of baby number 3, and a cock-a-mouse siting leads helps them decide it’s time to move. Marshall becomes a judge, and everyone calls him “judge fudge”. And at the end Marshall tells everyone he is running for State Supreme Court so that they will have to call him “fudge supreme”. Yeah, okay Lily gets emotional a few times, but they are due to pregnancy hormones (and Ted finally getting married). So overall the Lily and Marshall story has a happy ending, which equals, comedy.
During the episode Ted and Tracy meet, get engaged and are planning their wedding when Tracy gets pregnant. Ted and Tracy live together (in the suburban house Ted fixed up) and end up having another kid. After 7 years together Ted proposes, again, and the two get married. Yes, Tracy dies, which is tragic, and Ted makes a life lesson speech (about love). But then the episode jumps to an awkward moment between them, that you just have to laugh at. Though the story of Ted and Tracy ends with her death, I can’t bring myself to say their story is a drama. Why, you ask? Well because Ted and his children don’t seem to be struggling, they all smile and joke with each other, which leads me to believe they are alright. I would still have to call Ted and Tracy’s story a comedy, it just doesn’t have a typical happy ending. Think of all the funny moments in their story: how they meet on a train platform, arguing over an umbrella (with the old lady pushing Ted to meet Tracy). Ted asking Tracy on their first date (and making sure she knows it’s with him). Ted spending all his money on a wedding (that gets interrupted because Tracy’s pregnant). Ted’s second proposal (that Tracy interrupts a lot) or Ted wondering (on his wedding day) if after 7 years and two kids and he’s rushing into this. All those good and funny moments, are what make their story memorable.
The episode starts at Robin and Barney wedding reception. During which Barney tells the bass player that he stopped messing around and got the girl. However their relationship wasn’t meant to be. Robin is gone all the time, which leaves Barney wanting, and when he goes with her he can’t always work on his blog. After a night of drinking and sex, though they love each other they decided to get divorced. They hide this from their friends for a while and high 5 each other about sex acts in the group’s presence. But eventually Robin and Barney tell the group they are divorced and go their separate ways. Their story is the closest to drama, because of their location predicament and eventual divorce. But in the end they both end up happy (see below).
When the episode stars we find out how The Group meet. It started at MacLaren’s with a failed attempt to get a girl by Ted, and Lily telling the guys they couldn’t sleep with Robin (which even if you hadn’t watched the show before, you knew would happen). It then segues into Barney and Robin’s wedding. Where Barney tries to set Ted up with and girl and Ted and Barney give an epic high-five (which leads to them both falling over). With a turn of events, that best fits the romantic comedy, Ted doesn’t go to Chicago because of a girl, and Lily and Marshall find him in MacLaren’s the next day (they harass Ted and laugh at each other). The next big moment is when the whole gang gets together to meet Ted and Tracy’s baby. It’s during this get together that Barney and Robin say they are divorced – to which Ted compares them to his own parents. Lily (who we soon finds out is pregnant with baby 3) gets sad and makes The Group promise to stick together, which they promise (even though everything so far tells us the group is starting to fracture). Finally there is the awkward Halloween party, where Barney proclaims he just got a girls number as Robin arrives. This of course pushes Robin over the edge and she leaves (giving Lily an emotional but at the same time rational decision to separate herself from the group). One day as the now smaller group hangs out at the pub, Marshall becomes judge. When the time is mentioned Ted whimpers over the lack of sleep he will get because of his kids and Barney tries to sleep with girls (who could be half his age). Some time passes and one of Barney’s conquests turns him into a daddy to be. Of course this conquest brought back the elusive playbook and a few judge jokes are tossed around. One day while Ted and his daughter are talking about architecture Robin appears, we learn she is famous, but also never around. Finally Barney’s baby is born (though he hopes it isn’t his – and brought cigars just in case), as Marshall, Lily and Ted sit the waiting room Marshall and Lily crack jokes about Robin. Barney has to be pushed to meet his daughter (but in the end it was good his friends pushed him). The last main event is Ted and Tracy’s wedding day. As they sit at their usual table at the pub Barney dead tired because of his daughter (and whines just like Ted did not 15 or 20 minutes before). As the group talks Robin shows up and apologizes, the Group is back together for one final picture, and of course to make fun of Ted one more time. The dynamics of the group are always comedic, they poke fun at each other all the time and have a ton of inside jokes. When the group gets together you know something funny is going to happen, that why we all watch the show (isn’t it?). If you think about it the group dynamic is also romantic, they gained Robin, then they lost her, then she comes back. Very typical romantic comedy boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.
Once Barney and Robin are divorced Barney goes back to chasing after women. That is until he knocks one up and ends up and becoming a father (haven’t we seen this kind of thing happen in romantic comedies before). The instant he meets his daughter he falls in love with her instantly, something he said he could never do with a women. In the end Barney becomes very sleep deprived, but becomes a responsible, loving, caring man (he even starts taking care of random girls, telling them to stop drinking and wear more appropriate clothing. Barney story defiantly has a happy ending, and it is defiantly a comedy.
Ted’s story though not without heartache is full of love. He loved Tracy, in fact he loved her as much as he could, for as long as he could. Every second they spent together he loved her and she loved him. Yes it is sad that they didn’t get to stay together forever, but that doesn’t make the episode a drama. Why? Because he still has his kids, whom he loves and his kids love him. They are also intelligent (if a little bratty) they push Ted to be with Robin because their mom has been dead for 6 years, and they know he’s in love with Robin. After grounding both kids for their nagging and pushing to go for Robin, he goes to her, blue french horn in hand. No we don’t know what happens, but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna lead to a happy ending, so that fits with comedy…. not drama.
Robin’s freak out over her ex-husband and guy she should have married, is something more befitting a drama. After her break-down Robin disappears into her work. Think of any romantic comedy, and what does the woman do when she gives up on love, she loses herself in something. In Robins case she ends up as famous (which is what she wanted when she moved to NY), her picture is on the side of buses, with lots of dogs (again I urge you to think about what women get in romantic comedies when they think love has failed, pets!) The episode ends with Ted outside her window, blue french horn in hand, and both of them smiling. If that doesn’t scream romantic comedy to you, I don’t know what does.
Hopefully by now you at least understand that HIMYM is still a romantic comedy. The story was after all, all about love, filled with comedy and was for the most part lighthearted. I also hope that by now you have thought about how much story was crammed into such a short time, and are slightly less upset about the shows finale. If not I urge you to take a few deep breaths, and maybe watch the show again, there are a lot of funny moments (you know those reasons you watch the show) that you might have missed in your emotional haze. Was it perfect? Was it the best HIMYM episode ever? No, but it had all the people that mattered, doing those funny things they do, and there was some kind of resolution. And if you think you can do it better, write an episode, write a comic, write a short story, and then you can have whatever ending you want.