Every show on television has a target audience. If it’s done right, an entire generation will reference the show for years after it wraps (see: Mary Tyler Moore). For me, a 30-year-old small-town girl living in a big city, navigating the slice of life between university graduation and “settling down,” no other show comes close to How I Met Your Mother.
So, four reasons why this show is legend-waitforit-ary? Challenge accepted.
Not your typical sitcom
It’s been argued among us loyal HIMYM fans that this story – told over nine seasons of television to the world’s most patient teenagers listening to how their dad met their mom – is far less about how Ted meets the mom, and more about how Ted gets over Robin, one of his earliest loves and closest friends.
Sorry, Ross and Rachel fans: This love story is more real, more difficult and more rewarding than anything that ever happened on Friends.
This has always been a show filled with hard moments, difficult realizations and tear-jerking realities. Marshall’s dad, who was a regular on the show, dies of a heart attack without warning. The episode ends with 30-year-old Marshall’s heart-wrenching, simple words: “I’m not ready for this.”
If this were any other sitcom on television, tonight’s series finale would have Robin ditching Barney at the altar and running into Ted’s arms, while that Proclaimers song about walking 500 miles plays in the background; fade to black.
But that’s not real life – and that’s not how the story goes. Love doesn’t make sense.
The complicated writing
The writers of this show had to film the series’s final scene years ago, so the kids on the couch wouldn’t age. They’ve known for a very long time how the show would end, and must have had one helluva storyboard.
The goat, the pineapple, the ducky tie. The blue French horn. And holy dear God, the yellow umbrella – there are so many beautiful, hilarious stories that unfold over many seasons. This is a show that rewards its loyal fans, with writers who aren’t afraid to take risks.
I’m ignoring the rampant rumours of a dead mother, who is yet to be named, and why Ted is telling the kids this story. I simply don’t believe the writers would do that to us. But it’s also not unlike them to resist a happy ending. (I’m predicting sad things for present-day Robin and Barney, for what it’s worth.)
It couldn’t have been easy, writing the final season around one weekend, but the memorable moments were plentiful, and left me ugly-crying most Monday nights, for reasons both happy and sad. The alotment of lighthouses is perhaps the most beautiful. Just watch.
The voice of a generation
Specifically, mine. This sounds cheesy but it’s true. HIMYM taught me that we’re all living our story of how I met your <significant other>, however long that story is.
In the last nine years, I had a brief stint as a woo-hoo girl, à la Robin. I have lost very important people, à la Marshall. I have up and left my life, à la Lily. I have had people who were once important to me but now I can’t remember their names, as present-day Ted tells his kids about a girl he dated named “blah blah.” I’m sure I’m a “blah blah” in someone else’s story.
I had met many suit-donning, womanizing Barney Stinsons, and like Ted Mosby, I was enjoying the single life and friends that were more like family – while searching for a meaningful relationship.
How I Met Your Mother was a reminder that all of the awful mistakes, tricky career moves, poor decisions, unforgettable nights, tragic breakups and life missteps – they’re all part of the same story.
If your story doesn’t make any sense, the story is simply not over yet.
The life lessons
Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m. Graduation goggles. The front-porch test. Truly good friends can be your family. The lessons from this sweet little show are too many to name, and that will make it beautiful for mass re-watching in a few years.
Just when I thought the life lessons were over, last-episode future Ted drops this wisdom on his couch-sitting kids:
“The friends, neighbours, drinking buddies and partners in crime … as the years go by, you just lose touch. You will be shocked, kids, when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways forever. That’s why – when you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it.”
But the ultimate lesson?
That your person – the love-of-your-life person – is worth waiting for. Lily and Marshall have a beautiful, easy relationship, though filled with its own bumps and hiccups. Ted spends nine years of TV – that’s 208 episodes, six relationships and 39 women – searching for his person. And it’s a story worth telling.
So thank you, How I Met Your Mother. I will love you forever.