By Mike Del Rosso
I’ve noticed the most recent episodes of How I Met Your Mother taper back the narrator and shots of his future kids as he, middle-aged Ted, tells the story to them.
Perhaps the kids are a future projection slowly fading from 30-something Ted’s imagination. In fact, he’s a writer, not an architect (something he may have stolen from George Costanza, who’s pretended to be an architect for years).
He contrived the kids to acquire voice and structure his story. He writes for a weekly network sitcom and those kids always seemed to cure his writer’s block. It then only made sense to incorporate them into the plot.
His best friend and college roommate is, indeed, still Marshall. He and Lily moved back to Minnesota, where Marshall’s from, years ago, however, when Lily finally had the baby. He meets up with Barney every now and then at the bar, but mostly Mr. Stinson has to work late. A year or two passes and even these scant meetings cease.
Now most of what had happened within the gang happened, but not to the exaggerated hilarity Ted told his imagined kids these past years. What fish story couldn’t use a few more inches?
The irony of the title, How I Met Your Mother, then, is that even the narrator, the one person who should know your mother, does not.
The story continues in this alternate reality (his friends had left years ago, but a faithful Ted has continued to write about them), yet the mother of his children won’t show. The thought of an unknown outcome seems daunting to the hopeless romantic… especially without the support of his estranged friends.
He gives up upon his firstborn’s would-be birthday. Then he thinks he’ll never find his soul mate.
In his decline, hitting rock bottom, the forever single Ted prepares to live out his life as a bachelor. Separated from his friends and his plan in shambles, Ted utterly lingers alone, like the stale stench from a dried coffee stain.
The light comedy takes a tragic turn. Ted frequents the bar below his apartment now not to socialize, but to drown his sorrows and forget. It’s at that point, when all hope is lost, he sees a beautiful girl, or at least what he thinks to be beauty through the blurred vision of abuse.
She’s sitting at the bar and flits him an inviting glance as she orders a certain port wine. Her twinkle ignites a spark Ted hasn’t felt for years. Memories. He walks around the bar to her, thoughts of his friends flooding back into his brain.
“My best friend’s wife, Lily, used to order that exact wine,” a rosy-cheeked Ted says, as the color returns to his previously flushed face.
“Is this how you usually pick up women: mentioning other girls they don’t know?” she playfully banters back. She really is beautiful up close.
“No not really. I just haven’t seen anyone order that wine in a very long time,” the starry-eyed Ted ogles. “I guess it brought back some memories of some very good times I had, with even better friends, in this very bar.”
“Well I’m glad to be of service.”
“So how come I haven’t seen you in here before?”
“I just moved here from Canada. My best friend from home, Robyn, recommended this place to me. She said it was the best bar in Manhattan, although I don’t see what’s so special about it.”
“If you join me for a drink in that booth right over there, [he points to the gang’s regular booth] I can tell you what’s so great about it.”
Ted takes her over to the booth and proceeds to tell her many of the stories that made the series great. That time they all performed the “Naked Man.” And ‘Who won that NYC public transportation race again? Who cares. I know the bus is the fastest route anyway.’ He does not tell her right away that he knows Robyn.
The series ends where it began, MacClaren’s Pub. The scene fades on an intimate conversation between Ted and Robyn’s beautiful friend as they sit across from each other in the gang’s regular booth.
As the camera pans away, that familiar narration, almost forgotten, fades in:
“…so you see, kids [in this instance the ‘kids’ and the audience become one], you can never give up. I assure you: life will NOT work out the way you’ve planned it. But that’s not to say you can’t find what you’ve been looking for all along another way, in another time, in another reality altogether. [Fade in to 30-something Ted writing at his desk.]
“I don’t know how this relationship will go. You can never know what’s around the next corner. But the important thing is that you try. That you get out there and live life… and make it worth something writing about.”
[Cascade sepia-style photos of Ted, his friends, and this new girl across the screen–yet now show wedding photos, shots of his kids, then his grandkids, show Marshall and Lily’s baby and the gang reuniting when Robyn returns from her broadcasting job in Japan–in the same fashion each and every show has opened on.]
“BAA BU BA ba baH ba ba bah ba duda buda Buddha duda dadummm… “