This year, How I Met Your Mother ended its nine-year run with a polarizing finale that left fans completely stunned. I had to watch it twice before I could even process it well enough to form an opinion. The seemingly simple story of a man telling his children how he met their mother took many twists and turns over the years, and it gained a pretty large and dedicated following.
Though its original run may be over, How I Met Your Mother will live on. This is a show with a lot of replay value, and I’m sure fans will be eager to experience the series again in light of how it ends. And for fans disappointed by the ending, an alternate version of the finale is set to release with the complete series box set later this year. With its non-linear timeline, compelling story, and the ability to satisfy its viewers without ever giving them exactly what they want, this series is here to stay.
How I Met Your Mother centers on five friends living in New York City in the early 2000’s. The series begins when Ted (Josh Radnor), the main character and narrator, decides he is going to start looking for “the one” after his roommate/best friend Marshall (Jason Segel) becomes engaged to his long-time girlfriend Lily (Alyson Hannigan). Despite objections from his playboy friend Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Ted searches for his soulmate and thinks that he’s found her in Robin (Cobie Smulders). This is the start of Ted’s long journey to meeting his actual soulmate, who would go on to be the mother of his children. In 2030, Future Ted (voice by Bob Saget) tells his kids all the exciting stories that led to their fateful encounter in excruciating detail.
I could spend all day telling you all the things I love about this show, but I’ll just hit the highlights. First of all, my favorite thing about this show is the storytelling element. The entire show is a series of stories that Future Ted is telling to his kids. But storytelling is integrated even further into the show than that. Most of the episodes involve the characters (who are already within a story) telling stories to each other. At one point, the main plot is actually a story within a story within a story within the greater story that Ted is telling his kids. Storytelling is a central element of How I Met Your Mother.
And the fact that storytelling is so embedded in the show opens it up to a lot of cool possibilities. Future Ted mixes things up sometimes when he’s telling the stories to his kids, just like we do when we’re telling stories. He skips around to give us cool glimpses into these characters’ futures. Sometimes, Ted is just plain wrong about something, and it’s fun to figure these things out. The creators also use this fact to mess with the audience a bit. There are a couple of times within the series where the show just plain dupes you, and it’s a really great feeling when you finally figure it out.
Another great thing about this show is Ted. Poor Ted. He’s so relatable. He represents a lot of us who are looking for something but just can’t seem to find it. He’s quirky, he’s often annoying, and he sometimes makes morally questionable decisions. But everyone loves Ted because ultimately, he’s just a good guy looking for someone to share his life with. People relate to Ted and root for him because we want him to win, and we know that ultimately, he does.
I know I already told you my favorite thing about this show, but it’s such a good show that I’m allowed to have two favorite things about it. So my other favorite thing about How I Met Your Mother is that it never, ever, ever gives you exactly what you want. You might be thinking, “Why would someone like a show that doesn’t give them what they want?” It’s because there is something really satisfying and compelling about an unexpected twist. The show’s creators do a really good job of finding a balance between surprise and satisfaction. You never feel like you’re being cheated, but you also never really know what’s going to happen next.
The best example of this comes in the very first episode. The episode is about Ted’s decision to start looking for “the one.” That night, from across the room, he sees her. The perfect girl for him. He falls for he instantly. They talk and go on a romantic date. He makes this big speech about love and how he’s ready to settle down with the perfect girl. And then the episode ends with Future Ted saying, “And that, kids, is the story of how I met… your Aunt Robin.”
“Aunt Robin?!” The kids are as shocked as the viewers. Isn’t this supposed to be the story of how Ted me their mother? Well, yes, but it’s a long story. And throughout the entire series, Robin’s always there. And the viewer always wants Ted to end up with Robin. But Ted tell us from the very first episode that she is not the Mother. So you spend the entire series conflicted. You want Ted to find the Mother, but you also kind of want him to be with Robin. So they kind of set up a situation where you can’t really get what you want. But that’s a part of the fun.
How I Met Your Mother is a heartwarming story of a man looking for love and failing every step of the way. But as we know from the premise of the series, Ted does eventually find what he’s looking for. It’s not exactly what he expected, and it doesn’t go exactly the way he wanted it to, but if How I Met Your Mother teaches us anything, it’s that not getting exactly what you want is OK. It can actually turn out better than you ever dreamed it would. Check out How I Met Your Mother on CBS or Netflix, and be ready for some great stories.