Warning: Season 9 spoilers for HIMYM and gifs below
Does anyone else remember where they were March 31, 2014? I was sitting on my bed, getting my heart broken. But not by my person or a rejected job offer, instead it was by “How I Met Your Mother.”
My best friend/writing partner and I had watched the show for years against our better judgement. Though we’d often than not we’d yell about how the show runners were teasing out the eponymous mother, we stuck with the show’s ups and downs to the bitter end — and boy, do I mean bitter. We watched that finale together, that dark and stormy Monday, and as layer upon layer of ending was revealed we shouted each time. But once it became clear that after everything, after all this time, energy and effort put into establishing Ted and Robin’s true friendship, the writers were committed to sticking them together.
I read the outrage, and I read the favorable reviews for a couple days post finale. After that I refused to return to the show, and couldn’t talk about it without getting mad. To me, it was more than a betrayal of the characters (who suddenly seemed boxed into an ending written years ago), and the audience (who was forced to reconcile decades of changes in these characters lives in only 10 minutes). It changed the fabric of the show, and the strange optimism behind it.
Where sitcoms often find their niche appealing to a generation of aimless 20-somethings, HIMYM marked an interesting intersection between a generation coping with the onset of a vaster, more technologically driven world, and the typical shrug-off of past generation’s values. Where HIMYM stepped in, was navigating the idea that “kids these days” might be interested in casual relationships sometimes, even while on the road to their “one true love.” Although in his heart of hearts Ted loved Robin, the audience knew that the kids knew her in the future as Aunt Robin, forcing us to reconcile ourselves with the fact that–OTP or no–Ted was wrong about Robin. And though we can all understand the aching of a lost or unrequited love, the fabric of HIMYM’s universe held that Ted would someday be blissfully happy in his own right. It was an inspiration for kids who were aimlessness of their 20s; a pleasant reminder that everything we know now could be temporary. Those 20-something pangs would be glimmers of the past, in that big, bright future we were barreling towards.
What we got instead was a legitimization of the friendzone myth. Thanks HIMYM.