Jul. 20th, 2014 @ 11:48 pm How I Met Your Mother finale
For nine seasons, HIMYM is the often INCREDIBLY, INCREDIBLY annoying, sometimes sweet, sometimes funny story of Ted and friends, and all the ways Ted messes up relationships, told as the story of Ted explaining to his children how he first met their mother.

I really liked most of the last season (with a few unfortunate exceptions) with all the little hints with other cast members meeting the children's mother, and Ted not quite doing so yet, but having flashforwards to things they did together.

I'd assumed that any ending would be a let down, assuming that Ted would meet the children's mother in the last episode, and there was no possible way that could be a surprise. But I was very pleasantly surprised that they built up a whole season showing Ted and the children's mother continually nearly meeting, and showing her meeting the other characters, and building her up as a character, it felt like if they just capped it off with the expected meeting at the end, it would have been perfect, much better than I expected for a show built around a premise that encapsulated its own ending, and dragged out for nine seasons.

Aaaaagh! Now I've finally got to the last episode I see why everyone was so annoyed!

Ted's wife is killed off by a never-specified terminal illness, and he tries AGAIN to get back with on-again off-again love interest Robin.

Aaaaaagh! A few seasons ago that would have been really sweet, but it's too late! They've moved on! The ship has sailed! They are not good for each other any more!

OK, first, to be fair, the creators planned this all the way back in the first couple of seasons, which was really quite a clever idea. I'm incredibly impressed they were ABLE to pull off a twist ending in a series with such a built-in ending point. Especially one built up, and intertwined with the continuity over nine seasons, and parts of it recorded back then before the actors playing Ted's children aged too much, and never let the ending be leaked.

I really wish MORE series could plan their plots like that.

It was really really really clever and it was what I thought I wanted. But I was wrong, I didn't want clever, I wanted happy.

They were wrong! We were all in love with the children's actual mother, she and Ted were EVEN MORE perfect for each other than Ted and Robin were, and Barney and Robin were happy together. I wanted the happy ending! And Ted and Robin wasn't happy any more, it was just sad :(

In the penultimate episode, when we saw Barney and Robin were going to break up, I had a horrible feeling Ted and Robin would get together after all, either Ted dumping his wife, or (preferably) them having children but recognising they were wrong for each other from the start. And then in the last episode, I thought it wasn't going to happen after all, and then it did.

Ted and Robin isn't "happy" any more. Ted's already had children, already had his planned out "ideal" life he wants. He and Robin are already best friends again. They're content, their careers may or may not be compatible any more, Robin never wanted to "settle down" with anyone ever... At this point, whether they're best friends, or best friends-with-benefits, is NOT the major life decision of either of them!

And it just makes me sad for everyone else. Lily and Marshall rumble through an ok life. Barney loses all the character development he'd had, loses any sort of ambition, and then suddenly has a facile reversal at the last minute. The children's mother dies :(

Sure, it's realistic that real life is kind of depressing and pointless but people muddle through as best they can and it turns out mostly ok. But if you spend nine seasons setting up the premise of "the one" and then throw it away in the last episode then you're going to make EVERYONE cross with your show, whichever side of the argument they're on.

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From:minnesattva
Date:July 21st, 2014 08:03 am (UTC)
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I'm finding more and more with books/films/TV generally that I don't want clever, I want happy. (I do like clever, but I find happy is much better for me.) I've never seen this show and just from your description it sounds disappointing and frustrating!
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:July 21st, 2014 09:41 am (UTC)
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I can't decide, I think I want something in the middle. I find tacked on gratuitously happy endings annoying as well -- when the plot is suddenly thrown away and someone is happy by fiat in a way which doesn't fit their character to date...

I think I need a steady diet of fairly straightforward, uplifting endings, but with enough variety to keep me interested. And the more genre-aware I get, the more I need more complicated endings because the more straightforward endings aren't interesting. But I still need happy endings, and I still think that being depressing is not required in order to be interesting! :)
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From:bugshaw
Date:July 21st, 2014 03:14 pm (UTC)
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"doesn't fit their character to date..."

I felt a bit meh about the ending, but it did feel realistic. I have seen people in their 40s restart relationships successfully now that did not work 10-20 years earlier, but now they're both in the right place for it. To young bugshaw it would have looked like settling, but it looks different from here.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:July 21st, 2014 06:21 pm (UTC)
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I wasn't so much thinking of Ted and Robin there, as other shows/films/etc which insist on tacking on a happy ending, even if it doesn't quite work. But I was thinking it applied a bit to Barney: having slightly grown out of his creep persona, he then threw himself back into it, which like Ted and Robin would have been funny at the end of season 4, but was tragic at the end of season 9; and then he suddenly did an instant and (presumably?) permanent 180 degree shift when he got a daughter, which is equally sexist in a different way, but I think is intended to be happy...?

I agree Ted and Robin are plausible, except that after all the intermediate seasons, it didn't feel to me like "they would have a successful relationship", more like "they'll probably screw it up AGAIN because they're STILL not learned how to have adult relationships". I don't think that was intended (and either way, I agree it's plausible), but it's why I was a bit sad.