Think of a TV show like an airplane flight. The takeoff (or the pilot -- no, not that kind of pilot. God, this is like an Airplane! gag) matters, but you really just have to get off the ground without crashing. Once you're in the air, the flight can be bumpy or relaxing, and reach peaks or descend to valleys. It depends on how good the show is.
But they all have one thing in common: it's really hard to stick that landing.
Social media channels exploded in fury on Monday night after the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, because people like to get mad at these things. Apparently, the whole "Mother" storyline that had propelled the show's plot from the first episode was a massive fake-out, as Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) was to eventually end up with his on-again, off-again crush Robin (Cobie Smulders).
A nuanced (as usual) take from TV writing god Alan Sepinwall pointed out how the show's creators (Carter Bays and Craig Thomas) refused to adapt to the changing dynamics of the show (mainly, how well audiences responded to the Robin-Barney and Ted-Tracy couples), instead pushing through their original vision for the ending even when it didn't make much sense.
Or, to put it in Twitter-speak, "OMG, HIMYM IS THE WORST."
We develop attachments to these shows, almost as if they're our kids (sometimes our really messed-up kids). So we expect them to end perfectly, even though each viewer's perception of perfection is different. Some want everything tied up and resolved, others want mystery. And pretty much nobody wants anything to end like Lost did.
But it's hard for a single episode of television to sum up the totality of the hours spent beforehand. Only a select few (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H*, The Shield) manage not to just satisfy, but to transcend an individual show's prior highs.
HIMYM didn't do that. But not for lack of trying.
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