By now you know that the general consensus of the How I Met Your Mother series finale is that it majorly sucked. After nine years of build up, after falling in love with the characters, the inside jokes, and the genuine emotional moments, HIMYM fans really had the wool pulled over their eyes with the haphazard series finale. But I think the real reason the disappointment cut so deep goes beyond the trickery and reveals what a sitcom truly means to fans of the television medium. Warning: spoilers ahead.
The D Word: Barney and Robin tie the knot, and Barney finally becomes a loving, devoted husband. Oh, no wait. Just kidding! They get divorced, and he's back to being a womanizing creep. Oh, just kidding again! He has a daughter and is now a loving, devoted father. This was too much. After spending an entire season, not only on the wedding between Barney and Robin, but convincing us that Barney has done a 180 and then making him do another 180 back again is just stupid. The viewer is made to worry the entire season that they won't actually go through with the wedding, and then as soon as they do and we think we can breathe a sigh of relief, the rug is pulled out from under us with a divorce.
Of course this is more akin to what can and does actually happen in real life. People get divorced all the time. But this isn't real life -- it's a sitcom. And not just any sitcom. This is the slap bet, the playbook, Gary Blauman, the LEGEN -- wait for it -- DARY sitcom. With all of these other crazy story lines used purely for entertainment value I shouldn't have had to waste so much time being convinced that Barney and Robin were right for each other time and time again, actually start to believe it and then have everything inexplicably combust in a matter of five minutes in the final episode.
The Forced Happy Ending: For years I thought that somehow, some way they would get back together. Ted and Robin were made for each other. The first season makes it clear that they're the Ross and Rachel of this series and that they would end up together in the end. #Notbuyingit. I was forced to get over that idea about three to four seasons ago with the numerous story lines pointing to the fact that not only is Robin quite obviously not the mother of Ted's children ("Aunt Robin") but she tells him over and over that she's not in love with him, and I actually believed her goddammit!
Not to mention that there was a definitive period put on the Ted/Robin relationship in the episode before the finale when Ted explains why they don't love each other anymore and all that matters is how deeply in love she is with Barney. And then you go and tell us ALL of that is bullshit, that actually Ted and Robin are totally meant for each other after all? It definitely doesn't matter that Robin was married to one of Ted's best friends and they had ridiculously crazy sex probably every night for years, or that Ted had an entire life and family with someone else and the only reason he's single now is because she DIED! If they were really meant to be, how could they have put their love aside for so long in order to truly love and commit to other people for an extended period of time? Not to mention it climaxed with the lukewarm sentiment of that god-forsaken idiotic blue French horn. Ted and Robin are NOT Ross and Rachel. They can't even compete with a real epic sitcom love story like that. Ross and Rachel: 1 billion. Ted and Robin: 0.
Death in a Sitcom Finale: Death has no place in the finale of a situational comedy. An epic death, of a main character even, is normal and even expected in the finale of a drama. But a sitcom? Call me traditional but I still need sitcoms to make me feel good about life. Sitcoms are why I fell in love with television in the first place and why I continue to wear out my Friends and Full House DVD's regularly. They bring you to a place of escapism in the most pure way. Having a crappy day? Watch a little obvious humor and canned laughter. It's how I recover from the shitiness that life actually brings.
Maybe some people consider the fact that Ted and Robin end up together a "happy ending," but I think the fact that the woman Ted supposedly spent his whole life looking for, the perfect woman, the mother of his children, dies at a young age of a terrible disease, is a really fucked up ending to this narrative. To make matters worse we don't even see Ted mourn. The strict confines of the finale force him to glaze over the death of his wife, Tracy McConnell (we barely knew ye), inadvertently ask his kids for permission to start boning their Aunt Robin again and present her with that stupid freakin' blue French horn. I am actually a little bit emotionally scarred from Tracy's death in this finale. I wish I was kidding.
For me it all comes down to the fact that sitcoms are about laughing, happy tears and satisfaction. I got very little of that in the HIMYM season finale. A lot of people have said it won't affect how they feel about the rest of the series, but I am going to find it difficult to re-watch this series in its entirety (as I've done with so many predecessor sitcoms) without thinking "Sorry Ted! Your wife dies in the end!" throughout every episode.