I’ll start this post off with a Spoiler Alert, just in case anyone reading has somehow managed to avoid finding out how the finale of How I Met Your Mother ended last weekend.
Props if you’re a fan and you’ve managed to stay blissfully unaware of the ending, because the online furore has been pretty impressive. It just goes to show how important Ted Mosby’s love life became to us all in the past nine years!
My sister first introduced me to HIMYM six years ago. An avid TV and Film student, she’s always been ahead of E4 in knowing what American shows will go down well over here, and so she sent me off on my world travels with a hard drive packed full of trashy American TV goodies which I inevitably got hooked on. And so it was on 24 hour-long bus journeys across South America that I first became acquainted with Marshall, Lily, Robin, Barney and Ted.
I was hooked immediately. As a twenty-something singleton, the humour instantly appealed, and the show has always managed to find comedy in situations which for many of us were everyday realities. The clever balance of the saccharine happily married couple, the womanising caricature kid from a broken home, the hopeless romantic, and his unrealistic, poorly-suited love interest has kept fans hooked over the years, no matter their own age or relationship status.
As a dating blogger, I’m often compared to Carrie Bradshaw. And yet whenever the comparison is made, I admit to being far more like Ted Mosby. I don’t have Carrie’s emotional detachment. I’m a hopeless romantic. I search out the fairytale in every encounter, and have daydreams where I substitute my own surname with those of the eligible men in my life.
This week I texted Henley Boy – my own Robin of sorts. A man whose actions kickstarted this blog, and a tale which I hope will eventually one day become my own ‘How I Met Your Father’ story. I’ve got an exciting announcement, which I’ll tell you guys about soon, and I wanted him to be one of the people I told first, because I owed him a thank you. I haven’t spoken to him in six months, and I don’t plan to speak to him again soon, but the polite Brit in me figured I at least owed him a thank you. He texted back – a nice, polite reply. That same day, I also chatted to the Airport Guy (who I’m hoping to line up a date with at some point), and caught up with The Enigma. And when I mentioned on Twitter who I’d been chatting to EVERYONE was far more excited to hear about the Airport Guy than they were about Henley Boy.
And rightly so.
Because Henley Boy was just the catalyst to my story. And to be honest, I think I would lose the respect of every single blog reader, if I were ever to go back there! He treated me badly, but some good came out of it. In fact some crazy, life changing events have come out of it. (More on that soon!)
But that’s his role. The challenge, the story, and the blog were never about winning him back. It was about learning from an experience, and moving on, in the right direction.
Robin Scherbatsky is Ted Mosby’s Henley Boy.
The girl who launches his quest for love. A girl who seems like his dream girl at first, and who launches thousands of adventures. She remains a close friend, and at times their romance is rekindled, but as the series develops, the viewer goes from disappointment when Ted first refers to her as ‘your Aunt Robin’ when talking to his kids, to genuine excitement to find out who Ted will fall for instead. What woman can surpass the high bar which Robin has set for Ted? What woman can slot effortlessly into a group which we have known as a fivesome for so many years?
And realistically – could the writers and producers ever create a character we as viewers would learn to love, knowing they only had one season to do so?
Incredibly, they managed it. TM – Tracy McConnell – the Girl with the Yellow Umbrella (Cristin Milioti) certainly won me over. And the scene where Ted and Tracy finally met was imperfectly perfect. Standing in the rain, at a train platform, beneath the yellow umbrella they had both at one point owned, their first conversation was truly the kind of conversation you have just once in your lifetime, as they tied up the various threads of story from the past five years of almost encounters.
And then we realise she’s already dead, and that she has been the entire time that grown up Ted has been telling his children, and us, the story of How I Met Your Mother.
As if that alone isn’t disappointing enough, the mother’s death, and the entire story, with Tracy’s obvious absence from the majority of it, are used as a device to reunite Ted with Robin. Ted’s children convince him to get over his grief, and go and ask ‘Aunt Robin’ out. And whilst the final scene, of Ted standing outside Robin’s window, holding out the blue French horn, and asking to come up, may have added some symmetry to the nine year-long tale, that one scene undid all the lessons which Ted learned about himself, and Robin, in his late twenties and thirties.
Throughout the final series, in order to ensure the audience fell in love with The Mother, we had to unequivocally fall out of love with Robin. Something I admit to doing around season six. We realise she’s simply a girl put on an unnecessary pedestal. A rather frosty, bullish contrast to Ted’s clueless, hopelessly romantic nature. When she settles down with Barney, the match was a welcome one, and felt a natural end to each character’s development. We understood the back stories which made Robin and Barney the characters they were, and in spite of their flaws, loved them. But that didn’t mean that Robin was the girl for Ted. Something we saw him coming to terms with as the seasons went on … though there were certainly times during Season 9 when it felt like he was relapsing.
Dating is about learning lessons. And sometimes hindsight really is the only cure. Someone can seem perfect for you at the time, and it’s only years later that you can properly appreciate why that person didn’t end up as your most significant other.
So after nine years following the trials and tribulations of Ted Mosby’s love life, and a very well structured introduction to Tracy McConnell, which helped us as viewers to fall in love with her too, and understand why this woman eclipsed all the others we’d encountered with Ted through the years, it was a genuine disappointment, to see him age 50+ standing outside Robin Scherbatsky’s window once again.
As for me and my own How I Met Your Father story? I bloody well hope it ends with a moment worthy of the scene under the yellow umbrella at Farhampton Station, and not returning to someone I spent my late twenties and thirties working out I wasn’t meant to be with!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx