It’s been eight seasons since we first heard Bob Saget (never credited for some reason) begin a seemingly infinite account of how he met his wife and the mother of who must now be the most bored and anxious teenagers in the history of sitting on couches, but payday is upon us. The final season of the show How I Met Your Mother, its ninth, finally reached our eyeballs in September, and I, for one, couldn’t be more relieved. I’m not saying I dislike the disturbingly popular sitcom (a Brazilian once called me Barney Stinson for reasons I’m only vaguely proud of), but the creators are smart to finally bring on a finale before the show’s charm dies. HIMYM has teetered these past few seasons on the fault line of played-out gags, but I’m for once optimistic the finale will be worth the nine season wait.
Like most TV slobs around the planet, I was hooked on the show a couple episodes in. Somehow, that fated meeting of Ted and the mother seemed almost in sight, a testament to the jerks in the writing room playing with our feeble emotions. Ted’s plight was something most folks could relate to, and the New York City lifestyle of boozin’ didn’t seem too shabby either. We were charmed by Marshall and Lily’s romance, impressed by Robin’s surprise badassery, and of course jealous of Barney’s impossibly photogenic, sexually explicit, romp of a late-twenties life. In short, the cast, story, and Saget’s gooshy narration swayed us. No shame, guys, it happens to the best of us.
But as the years passed, some of the charm of the show waned. This could be a result of the characters aging – this tends to make life a whole lot less awesome – or just the writers running out of ridiculous situations and trying to insert said nonsense into a world they’d made too serious. I mean, there were still great moments, like the time robots fought wrestlers, when Marshall recounted the best burger in NYC (not Corner Bistro you tourists), that moment where Barney’s scuba plan made the rest of the gang look dumb, and every time Lily got real hot and heavy and showed her true deviant colors (she’s the one in the gorilla suit, you guys).
And of course, there were the sad moments. I’d say that once the show got going, the poignant parts of the story outmatched the comedy. Barney meeting his father for the first time gave us a look at the insecurities of a womanizer. Lily and Marshall deciding to have a child, which was pretty awesome (middle name… Wait For It… biggest callback in the series). Remember when Ted got left at the altar by Sarah Chalke? Bummer. And Barney and Robin’s failed romance was simply good television (they had to go mess that up in a super-long arc involving Barney’s wedding plans). Watching these characters face challenges and then get into some ridiculous situation has been a pleasure, not always inciting a belly laugh, but relatable and mostly entertaining.
Last season, though, the show creators finally gave a glimpse of what viewers have all been eagerly anticipating, the identity of the alleged mother. Cristin Milioti joins the cast this season, and from her background in musical theater and a damn good episode of 30 Rock, it seems the role of the mother is in good hands. And according to the creators, the entire final run will take place over the weekend of Barney and Robin’s wedding, as well as in likely way too many flashbacks. We have a lot of cringing to do, though, before Ted and the mother meet, as Robin and Barney are probably gonna have some quarrels (here’s hoping Ted doesn’t do too many stupid things, the writers should know they are out of gas here), and Marshall and Lily need to tackle Marshall’s decision to be a judge in the face of Lily’s moving to Italy. That’s gonna suck. So, whether or not the writers will be able to pull real human laughs out of a cast that’s probably a bit tired of the act now, there’ll be some TV worth watching.
My conclusion, if I have to make one, or at least my hope, is that the final season will try and find the original charm of the series. Like, some real heart-wrenching romance and shit, and also Barney doing something awesome. The show was really satisfying when there was that balance of romantic business and nonsense, and when each character had to face a problem and come out giggling (with us in tow). And with one season left, the writers can really tease that final meeting of Ted and the mother as much as they want, the hope being that their priority is still overall quality and not senselessly throwing in cliffhangers. We want to care, and for a few seasons previous it’s been that much harder to do so. No doubt Cristin Milioti will be awesome, let’s see if the rest of the cast and crew can get their golden age back.