Song of the Day: Heaven, An Ode to How I Met Your Mother

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I had a whole piece planned out on the finale of How I Met Your Mother, but that was all scrapped after actually watching it last night. First off – we all saw this ending miles and miles away, yet it was still shocking in the moment. I’ve taken the time to absorb, mull and obsess over it, as well as read through the good and the bad reviews, coming to my own conclusion on one of the most controversial and dividing series finales in recent memory.

I’ve been binge re-watching every single episode in anticipation of the finale, and there are tons of clues pointing to the theory that the mother was dead and Ted ends up with Robin after all. One that really sticks out, is when Victoria leaves Ted for not ending his friendship with Robin, stating, I really hope you get her someday. Really, there are countless others. The end-game was always Robin. So much so, that the final scenes with the kids was shot in the second season. Co-creator Carter Bays said in an interview, we’re very excited about it because I think it’s going to be really heartbreaking, and sweet and wonderful. It was all of those things and more.

For the doubters saying this was a cop-out, I think a big chunk of that is how lovely Cristin Milioti’s played the character of The Mother, or Tracy McConnell. You couldn’t help but fall in love with her and root for her and Ted’s happiness, because she is exactly what he needed. That first meeting when Ted taps her on the shoulder and gets under the infamous yellow umbrella was so utterly perfect, that it was worth the nine year wait. Maybe if we wouldn’t have gotten to know the mother, it wouldn’t have hurt as much as it did to know that she had been dead for six years when Ted is narrating the story.

[There’s a great interview on Vulture with Josh Radnor talking about the backlash here.]

What makes it more heartbreaking is that Ted Mosby is such a likable character – the nice guy that you root for to get the happy ending he deserves and to know that he has been a widower for six years, losing his perfect wife is so devastating. Yet, that there is a certain beauty in it as well. Ted’s life, as just about everyone else, had never gone the way he planned. There were so many ups and downs, that this ending makes so much sense. Through all the heartbreak, pain and loss, he gets a second chance with one of the loves of his life. Tracy is Ted’s soul mate and Robin is his dream girl, and he’s lucky enough to get both.

He gets to live that perfect suburban life with two kids and an adoring wife, but also reunites with the girl he never truly stopped loving. Ted and Robin weren’t meant to be early in his life, but she ends up being his first and last great love. He needed to Tracy to help him grow as a person and give him that life that he always dreamed of. Everyone doesn’t meet their soul mate when they 18, get married, have three children and live the perfect life like Marshal and Lily. Life is messy that way and How I Met Your Mother has never been afraid to address that messy realness, which makes it so much more than your average sitcom.

I am not a sitcom watcher, yet, there are a number of reasons I connected with this show in particular. I first starting watching in 2007 when I had just moved to New York City. I didn’t have a television, which quite honestly, I was okay with it seeing as I didn’t watch very much television. Yet, my roommate loved this show and because it was so easy to watch online, it became something we did together and I was hooked.

It was different and I connected with the gang of friends that reminded me of my own – most of all with Ted Mosby. The naive, hopeless romantic Ted who wears his heart on his sleeve (as does the show) was one that I could relate too, because I had held that The One belief for most of my life. It wavered just as Ted’s had, but it finds it’s way back eventually. He endures so much heartache, yet he is still the optimist that we all love.

There’s also another part of me that connected to his character, because I would love to date a guy like him. Come on, that two minute date he took Stella on in the third season was absolutely adorable, and his geeky love of history and buildings are endearing along with his desire to settle down. Even after he loses his wife, he still doesn’t lose that infamous optimism of finding a happy ending.

That is essentially the core of the show – love – whether first love and a perfect union – Marshall and Lily, a second chance love with Ted and Robin, a short-lived love with the mother and Ted, a father and daughter love with Barney and Ellie or the love of a group of friends that are a family.

Another reason I loved the show so much was also the music. Music Supervisor Andy Gowan, has done a fantastic job since taking the reigns in season 2. When a show has good music, I am instantly more invested in it and How I Met Your Mother has had so many perfect music moments. The end of season two when Ted and Robin breakup, Jaymay’s Sea Green, See Blue is the perfect combination of sweet and sad. Fort Atlantic’s Let Your Heart Hold Fast played as Barney and Robin get engaged with a forlorn Ted gazing out of the window of the building he designed.

The Funeral by Band of Horses plays at the second hint of Ted meeting the mother at the Farhampton train station in the season 8 opener, as Rolling Stone put it, It’s a fantastically cinematic moment, and in retrospect, with (now-confirmed) rumors that the Mother is dead in the future, it’s even more haunting that Ted’s first meeting with his future wife is set to “The Funeral.” The Shins, Simple Song, was the perfect build up to seeing the mother for the first time, as the lyrics, love’s such a delicate thing that we do/with nothing to prove/which I never knew. 

The song’s lyrics that in my opinion, best foreshadows the last scene of the series was in season 5, episode 2, when Ted goes on a second blind date with the same girl – Goldspot’s RewindDo we make it to the sequel/second chance for our survival/oh we all need a hallmark ending and a change of heart/but it’s a long way back.

Finally, the finale, with Everything But the Girls’ Downtown Trainwas the perfect sweet and simple song to accompany Ted and Tracy’s first meeting. The show’s very last song, The Walkmen’s Heaven, was perfect – upbeat and poignant with the most pertinent lyrics – Our children will always hear/Romantic tales of distant years/Our guilty age may come and go/Our crooked dreams will always flow/Stick with me, you’re my best friend/All my life you’ve always been/Remember, remember, all we fight for.

How I Met Your Mother will go down as one of my favorite shows of all time. I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting the McLaren’s gang very often. So cheers to 9 twisting, unpredictable years filled with ups, downs and most importantly, love.

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*For fun, my favorite Ted Mosby speeches:

If you’re not scared, then you’re not taking a chance. If you’re not taking a chance, then what the hell are you doing anyway?

The great moments of your life won’t necessarily be the things you do, they’ll also be the things that happen to you. Now, I’m not saying you can’t take action to affect the outcome of your life, you have to take action, and you will. But never forget that on any day, you can step out the front door and your whole life can change forever. You see, the universe has a plan kids, and that plan is always in motion. A butterfly flaps its wings, and it starts to rain. It’s a scary thought but it’s also kind of wonderful. All these little parts of the machine constantly working, making sure that you end up exactly where you’re supposed to be, exactly when you’re supposed to be there. The right place at the right time.

Hi— I’m Ted Mosby. In exactly 45 days from now you and I are going to meet and we’re going to fall in love and we’re going to get married and we’re going to have 2 kids and we’re going to love them and each other so much. All that is 45 days away, but I’m here now I guess because… I want those extra 45 days with you. I want each one of them. Look and if I can’t have them I’ll take the 45 seconds before your boyfriend shows up and punches me in the face, because… I love you. I’m always gonna love you, til the end of my days and beyond. You’ll see.

You know what? I’m done being single, I’m not good at it. Look, obviously you can’t tell a woman you just met that you love her, but it sucks that you can’t. I’ll tell you something though, if a woman, not you, just some hypothetical woman, were to bear with me through all this, I think I’d make a damn good husband, because that’s the stuff I’d be good at. Stuff like making her laugh and being a good father and walking her five hypothetical dogs. Being a good kisser… 

It was at times a long and difficult road, but I’m glad it was long and difficult because if I hadn’t gone through hell to get there, the lesson might not have been as clear. You see, kids, right from the moment I met your mom, I knew I had to love this woman as much as I can for as long as I can and I can never stop loving her, not even for a second. I carried that lesson through every fight we had … and I carried it with me when she got sick. Even then, in what can only be called the worst of times, all I could do was thank God, every God there is or ever was or will be, and the whole universe and everyone else I could possibly thank, that I saw that beautiful girl on that train platform, and that I had the guts to stand up and walk up and tap her on the shoulder and open my mouth and speak.

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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day: Heaven, An Ode to How I Met Your Mother

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