When you look back at “How I Met Your Mother,” you have a season that was for the better part of nine seasons amazing. It was funny, whimsical, and really different than almost any other comedy out there. It was one of the rare serialized comedies that went the distance on network TV; sure, many sitcoms do have their overarching stories, but there are plenty of episodes in the middle that are interchangeable. You couldn’t do that all of the time with bunches of this show. A season 4 episode wouldn’t always make sense without seeing one from season 3 first. It required a while new level of commitment, and that is why so many became so invested … and also furious when the ending was not quite what they hoped that it would be.
We’re not time-travelers, so we cannot go back in time and change what happened in the series finale. It’s done. The Mother a.k.a. Tracy eventually dies, and Ted (Josh Radnor) decides eventually to try to get something going with Robin (Cobie Smulders) after snatching the blue French horn once more. What we want to explore is whether or not there is a way to have this story make a little bit more sense, almost in giving the show a tenth season that they missed out on that could allow for the context needed to justify the show’s ending.
Why was there so much outrage? – It all comes down to this: Nobody, whether in life or in watching a TV show, likes to feel like they were idiots, or like they had the wool pulled over their eyes. Everyone thought that this was the story of how Ted met the Mother and the two ended up being happy together, when instead it became more of “How I Met Your Mother, Had a Great Life with Her, and Then Started to Date Robin After She Died” in the closing episode. Everyone felt duped, and while we admire creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas sticking to their guns of what they wanted the series to be, the perception of what viewers wanted shifted from the early seasons when Ted / Robin was the rage.
How to fix it – It’s not an easy task, but our proposition would be to shift the perspective so that Ted was telling Robin the story of what compelled him to make his big gesture. Start with the death of Tracy, and then give the audience time in order to process how much he loved her and how wonderfully imperfect their lives were together. Don’t make it feel like he’s diving right back into Robin’s arms. Show his grief, his recovery, and try to find the humor and lightness even in these dark times. This is something the producers did so well following the death of Marshall’s father, and we know they could do it again. Just frame the story in a way so that Tracy and Robin are not compared; instead, this is just another change of his life when he realizes that he still deserves happiness.
Can it be brought back? – This has been fun to speculate about for our TV Revivals series, but it’s terribly unlikely. Many people hated the finale and will never watch again as a result. At the time the show ending, it felt like many of the cast were also ready to move on and do other things. Sometimes, we just have to admit that you can’t go home again … and this is the case here. We’ll just have to craft the Ted narrative in our head.
Do you still want to see something more in the “How I Met Your Mother” universe, even if it is more of a spin-off revolving around Ted’s kids or some lesser character? Let us know in the comments / the poll, and head over here to get some other TV news on everything we cover, sent right to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: CBS.)