SPOILER ALERT: Each generation will have a particular show attached to it as it matures. “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM) is one of those shows for today’s generation. The past nine seasons of the story were filled with characters that you loved or hated given the episode. But most importantly, we as viewers lived the lives of the characters, and many people grew with them personally over the time frame of the series. However, very few series that run over four years have ended with beloved endings in recent years. Just as with the 2012 Chuck ending, HIMYM’s ending has drawn great criticism and praise alike.
I am someone who was greatly disappointed in the ending, mostly because I could see most of its elements coming. After watching the series, one is not surprised to discover that the most accurate title of the series should have been “How I Met Robin” since Tracy (the mother) is not introduced into Ted’s life until the last episode (where they end up killing her off anyway to make way for Robin). Personally, I see this as awkward, poor story writing.
A great example from literature of a similar situation is in Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” Dickens never had Pip marry Estella — if you have a 1,000 page novel, you do not introduce a new character or relationship on page 980. It just does not work in storytelling. However, instead of writing a whole article on the poor literary qualities of HIMYM, I think it is important to hash out the greater meaning of this series.
There is an important scene which occurs at the train station where an old woman is talking about destiny to Ted right before he meets Tracy. I think HIMYM is a critical work focusing on the concept of “the one” and relationship destiny, a concept many people have been raised with. The creators seem to argue that there is no single perfect person for Ted, but they also argue that Lily and Marshall are each other’s one and only. It is important to understand that this series is a critique trying to show that some people are made for each other (Lily and Marshall), some people are made to be compatible with multiple people (Ted and Robin) and some people are not meant to spend their lives with anyone for long durations (Barney).
Barney is a lone wolf who is more comfortable with non-committed relationships as exemplified through his divorce from Robin, his pick up attempts at the rooftop Halloween party and his “perfect month” (assuming no “Number 31” has his love child resulting in a mature father figure persona). Lily and Marshall are committed to each other and always will be because that is just who they are. Ted and Robin are the wildcards, both exhibiting streaks of commitment and philandering (Ted more of the commitment type and Robin more of the philandering type).
I think the series is trying to tell the world that there are many different types of people and each individual will approach relationships differently, but that there is no one right way to approach to relationships. That is why there needed to be five friends: the committed, the on-and-off and the lone wolf.
Tracy is merely a side plot in this story of relationships, needed by the writers in order to show how the three approaches to romance can be compatible with each other. The five friends were each very different from each other, but somehow they got along and were best of friends. Tracy was never really included in the group until Robin left it, thus maintaining the five friends ratio. After Tracy’s death, Robin is brought back into the fold via the last scene with the blue French horn (again). The balance between the three types of relationships is still maintained. However, it is important to note that Tracy was an essential character because she demonstrates how Ted could be happy and in love with both Tracy and Robin. Different people were destined for different times in Ted’s life.
The series seems to communicate that one’s final destiny is certain, but that the path to destiny is less than fixed. I do not personally agree with the message that I believe HIMYM has sent, but in order to agree or disagree with the HIMYM finale, one must understand the message.