I remember when I saw the final episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’, the day on which it had originally aired. The series was the first I had fully immersed myself into, after catching an episode on a plane once and later becoming a dedicated viewer. The story surrounding its protagonist Ted Mosby and his search for true love was mostly immersive, well-written, and structured around relatable as well as fleshed-out characters. I was about halfway into my teenage years when the finale came on TV, and perhaps as a result of age-related excitement, I recall my sister and I bought a bunch of snacks and other foodstuffs to celebrate the grand hour-long event.
When the show ended and the credits faded out – the credits here were different in style to all the other episodes – there was this silence. Having the first TV program you felt you were a part of end isn’t very easy to digest. My sister, being a couple of years younger, shed a couple of tears. I wasn’t one to critique what I had seen back then, because I had accepted the show as it had come, but despite enjoying a few bits and being moved emotionally myself, there were still some things about the ending that didn’t sit well with me.
I soon found out that most fans of the show felt this way. Though the two-part episode became the show’s most watched, it also received the title (along with several other episodes from the final season) of ‘the worst the series had ever been’. Due to the strong criticisms the ending of the finale, in particular, started receiving, creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas announced the release of an alternate version almost immediately after the original had aired. This ending was more widely accepted by the general public, and that very reason is part of what ignited a desire in me to write an article on the ending of the otherwise well-received show.
‘How I Met Your Mother’ had a way of going about its storyline that made it stand out. Ted from the future (voiced by Bob Saget) narrated his love life in segmented flashbacks, and so, there was a sense of knowing how it would all end. Ted would find the love of his life and have two kids. The mystery then, lay in the identity of his significant other, something that would be solved within the course of nine years. The essence of HIMYM was in how it dealt with the topic of destiny. With every passing woman in Ted Mosby’s life, we as an audience felt a hint of closure, and since the entire tale was told from his perspective, we were able to garner a connection with the man, as he related both his philosophies as well as his regrets (in terms of actions committed), all of which was backed by clever writing, helping to achieve a two-sidedness to his character.
A long running comparison made in terms of the quality that this show had been with ‘Friends’ (1994 – 2004), the pilot of which preceded its by eleven years. I will admit that I am more a fan of the first of the two to air, though I still think HIMYM is the cleverer television program, simply because of the kind of risks it took. The basis of similarity that the two shows had was with the depiction of the central ‘friends circle’, inspired traits in characters, as well as the overall theme regarding the search for love. In terms of storytelling, HIMYM saw no competition in my eyes, because the way it communicated its ideas (which I’ve always considered to be far richer than anything ‘Friends’ ever had to offer) was often brilliant. Though some of the main players in the 2005 program were admittedly cartoonish and exaggerated, the friendship felt more real to me.