One of the most painful things to watch is a TV show that has long overstayed its welcome. That is too much of an occurrence in this day and age of television as networks desperately cling onto their few hit shows as online streaming and cable leave immense dents in the Big Four’s ratings. One of these shows was finally granted its end this past Monday with the show’s cast just getting too big and expensive to carry on. The finale for How I Met Your Mother has received a lot of publicity (most of it negative) in the past 48 hours.
As a finale the episode worked. The series has always jumped between humor and sentimentality and almost never focused on the two at the same time. So it may have upset viewers that the show decided to center around humor instead of sentimentality in its final moments. However, this was the ending that made sense. Despite its title, this show was never really about the relationship between Ted (Josh Radnor) and the mother (Cristin Milioti) but the relationship between Ted and his group of friends and in particular Robin (Cobie Smulders).
That being said the final season of How I Met Your Mother as a whole was a complete letdown. The format of having the entire season take place during the weekend of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin’s wedding might have seemed creative at the time but it ended up constricting the narrative. This may have worked in a 13-episode season but in a 24-episode season it felt as tedious as the second-half of the entire series has been (there was probably enough material for this show for 5 or 6 seasons but I honestly don’t recall anything memorable from this show since season 4). Even worse was that showrunners Carter Bays & Craig Thomas found a way to make this particular format seem completely aimless. Time seemed to be completely distorted and the journey to Robin and Barney’s wedding just became a journey to whatever weird thing would happen next, forgetting about the goal insight.
In fact, the only great episode to come out of this season came outside of the confines of the wedding weekend format. In the series’ 200th episode (entitled “How Your Mother Met Me”), the show decided to follow along with the Mother’s point of view as she has the same numerous near misses with Ted along the entire run of the series. It was funny, touching, interesting and completely validated the choice of Cristin Milioti as the mother. She was fantastic and makes it clear that under the right circumstances that something like the How I Met Your Father pilot currently in production could work. It wasn’t just the actors that made this show work (although they are the main selling point and the reason to keep on coming back to it), but the format too. That’s just as long as Bays and Thomas don’t constrain the format like they did with this final season.
The final season of How I Met Your Mother is a tale of a creative team getting to creative for their own good.