'How I Met Your Mother' finale: 5 Stages of Grief

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Image Credit: Ron P. Jaffe/CBS

Everybody okay? Still breathing?

Fans were put through the wringer Monday night during the hour-long finale of How I Met Your Mother. And the instantaneous reaction online was…not overwhelmingly positive. While the episode certainly had its fans (EW’s Katie Atkinson enjoyed it!), many felt like the rug had been ripped out from under them. I was in the second group.

Spoilers for How I Met Your Mother!

When the clock struck 9:01 p.m. ET and the episode was over, I went on a mass-texting spree the likes of which haven’t been seen since I was a teenage girl with a crush. “That can’t be it! Is this an April Fool’s joke?” I angrily texted one friend. For others, I was more succinct: “#NOPE!” Like seemingly everyone else, I then migrated to Twitter to express my feelings of betrayal — and find some comfort with other, equally shell-shocked viewers.

With the clarity of several hours, however, I see my intense feelings over the final hour of one of my favorite comedies starting to resemble the five stages of grief — similar to what my colleague Samantha Highfill went through when The Good Wife did That Thing That It Did last week.

I broke my reactions down — any of this sound familiar?

1.) Denial.
Nope. No. Nope. Denial started about 15 minutes into the episode. After a cute-as-heck beginning, complete with an appropriately emotional goodbye (“Major Pleasure!”) from the whole gang, we got to the first bombshell of the hour: Robin and Barney were getting divorced. And thaaaaaat’s when I realized things weren’t going to unfold how I predicted/hoped.

2.) Anger.
I would say Anger kicked in right around the time I saw where the episode was ultimately going and lasted the rest of the evening. You’re telling me I watched that whole lame Farhampton Inn season when the marriage we were tracing in micro-detail would fall apart a mere three years later? You’re telling me the show went with the super-retro idea that Barney couldn’t deal with his successful wife’s career? HOLD UP. The mother is dead now? I’m supposed to now believe that this story has been about Aunt Robin all along? Is this just every bad fan theory on the Internet all rolled into one ill-advised episode? (Yes.)

At this point, I went to bed.

3.) Bargaining.
Waking up this morning, I came to realize that, unlike Newhart, this whole thing wasn’t just a dream. Why couldn’t it have been you, [some show I don’t really like all that much]? What do I need to do to bring back the characters I love, and not the horrible people I was watching last night? (Barney!? What the hell was that?)

I want to make a deal with the producers: Give me a different ending, and I promise I’ll be a loyal How I Met Your Dad viewer! Give me an alternate ending, and I swear I’ll force all my friends to re-watch the show in syndication.

4.) Depression.
There’s no more How I Met Your Mother.

That’s one of the real problems here, isn’t it? This isn’t just a bad season finale that the show can bounce back from with a well-timed, gut-wrenching montage. There’s no more Robin Sparkles, no more long-winded Ted explanations, and no more Playbook plays. For nine years, we’ve been watching this show with one question in the back of our minds, and it turns out we’re all pretty lame Nancy Drews — we focused on the wrong plot point the whole time. (Well, some of us did. I guess I have to apologize to Robin/Ted shippers, whom I used to regularly roll my eyes at.)

5.) Acceptance.
With time (all 20 hours of it so far), I’ve come to realize that my biggest problem with the episode wasn’t any one specific plot point, but how rushed it all felt. I screamed when Robin and Ted got back together, but I think I could have been persuaded if it had just gone more slowly — seriously, we couldn’t get one scene of Ted in mourning for his dead, perfect wife?

Real talk: You’re telling me we had to stick it out for a whole final season where nothing happened, only to get bombshell after bombshell in the final moments? I recognize that this is clearly the ending the creators wanted, but if that’s the case, then what excuse do they have for the past year? Hindsight is 20/20, but I would have loved to see all the plots of the last hour blown out, crazy wigs and all.

So…I’m not quite at Acceptance yet. Are you?

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