Kids, let me tell you a story about How I Came Across A Show. The year was 2005. With Friends coming to an end, people needed a new great sitcom that wasn’t a cheap knockoff of the former. Enter How I Met Your Mother, created by then relatively unknown duo of Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. It kept the friends-hanging-in-a-bar/coffee-shop crux intact, but it’s narrative was what set it apart from anything that came before it. Rip-roaringly funny, crazy characterization, yet all the while with a solid emotional under-current, everybody knew that a worthy successor to Friends had been found.
Cut to its series finale on present day, 31st March 2014, and that show is nowhere to be found. Gone are the guffaws, the emotional payoffs, the beloved characters. All that is left are the bare bones of a once brilliant show that wore-out it’s welcome.
Kids, let me start from the beginning. The show was about Ted Moseby (Josh Radnor) who, just like me, is trying to bore his children to death by telling them a story that eventually turns out to be quite inconsequential. His tall tale is about how he met their mother (the show’s title is a big giveaway). Most of his stories involve him hanging out in a bar with his four friends: Marshall and Lilly (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan), Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (the gorgeous Cobie Smulders), who he proclaims, in the very beginning itself, is not their mother.
This guy, Ted, was an extremely desperate (nice) guy, hunting like crazy for the love of his life, all the while being in love with Robin. But there was something about him, this recognizability, this earnestness, that made you root for him to get the girl. You wanted him to find this woman and live happily ever after. But by the end, I was left so exhausted by his pursuits, I felt like slitting my throat before I ever got the chance to meet your mother. So, by the time the mother was introduced in the 9th year, I couldn’t care less about her.
Marshall and Lilly went from lovable couple to creepy like a serial killer pair. What do I say about Robin? At first, every time she flashed her charming smile, I couldn’t help but just be transfixed by her. She eventually turned into a bitch that I couldn’t care less about. It didn’t help her cause that her musical chairs with Ted went on a 1472 times too long. Barney is probably the only character that didn’t deteriorate as exponentially as the others. He went from that sleaze-bag with the funniest jokes to that good-at-heart sleaze-bag whose jokes are pretty much hit-and-miss (more misses than hits).
To be fair to the show, it was an absolutely howlarious one till about the end of the 4th season, with the 2nd season being the best of the lot. During this duration, the show had some brilliant running gags: the pineapple incident, the slap bet, the red boots, the “blah blah” girl, Swarley, and Ted referring using drugs as “eating a sandwich” to his kids.
But somewhere along the fifth season, the show went into a downward spiral, never to recover. In fact, with each passing season, the show gathered more and more momentum in its journey downhill, till the point where I rolled my eyes in a single episode more times than I laughed in an entire season.
Kids, to cut it short, I’ll come to the final season. When I had first heard that the entire season would be set across one weekend (Barney and Robin’s wedding) at a resort, I was suddenly hopeful. I knew that the format was going to be untenable for an entire season, but I was hoping against hope that the writers would come up with something ingenious in line with the show’s earlier days. The final result was arguably the worst season of the show. The flashbacks were poorly constructed, they hardly had anything left to say anymore, none of the new running gags were remotely funny, and the flashforwards were mostly uninteresting. The saving grace in the awful final season was Cristin Milioti’s performance as the eponymous mother, earnest, fresh-faced, charming and mildly funny, which is a compliment.
Ah, the double episode finale. It was everything it shouldn’t have been. One solitary laugh, courtesy Neil Patrick Harris, shoddy direction, emotionally manipulative, and wholly predictable. Not to brag, but two theories that I had about the show’s end both came true (*pats himself on the back with proud tears in his eyes*). But what shocked me the most were the lack of substantial screen-time for the mother and the framing device they ended up using for the finale. Considering that the creators had this ending in mind since the beginning of the show, you’d think it would be better thought out. Nope.
Kids, sadly, they never ended up explaining the pineapple incident, though they do reveal the mother’s name and the slap bet comes to an extremely tepid end, as does the show. You can’t help but feel sorry for the show, which turned into a victim of the network it aired on: a network that was determined to wring every single penny out of their flagship hit show, in the process tarnishing its legacy. I’m relieved that the show finally came to a merciful end. It’s spinoff, How I Met Your Dad, is set to premiere this September. Till then, ciao. *sigh*
PS: Just to get this off my chest. If this show had been about Yudhishtir, it would’ve been called ‘How I Bet Your Mother’.
©Piyush Chopra for PosterGully.com