Listen. Endings are always hard. Breakups, new jobs, graduations. Good endings, when done correctly, allow for a sense of closure and treat all parties with respect. In the TV world, weak finales, especially for shows with a solid (and often rabidly vocal) fan base, can ruin the good will built up over the years. As winter finally comes to an end, TV shows are starting to wrap up their season-long arcs, while setting the stage for either a finale or the next year. It’s been a rough week for anyone over-emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters. Spoilers for everything.
The Good: New Girl
The ending of Nick and Jess’s relationship was handled so, so well. Despite the amazing chemistry that Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson have, there is no way they would still be dating if they were real people. Even putting aside the fact that Nick wants to be a long-haul intergalactic trucker and Jess really wants that lakeside cabin for her horse and poet son, those two crazy kids were not meant to be. The timing of the fight (after playing what liked the worst game of True American, hungover, and building a toy for a 1 year old) was spot on. They were at their most vulnerable and honest selves because everything else had been stripped away by alcohol and dehydration. Given how realistic and authentic their fight/discussion felt, I have faith in the writers to handle the post-breakup fall out with grace and humor as well.
The Bad: How I Met Your Mother
HIMYM fans are all up in arms this week, and it’s for good reason. After 9 years of hearing Bob Saget talk to seemingly unaging children, we finally learnt the real reason Ted has been yapping away; he basically wants permission from his kids to pursue “Aunt” Robin.
Some things that worked in the finale:
- Neil Patrick Harris was great. Even though Barney regressing was infuriating, NPH sold the scene when he meets his daughter. Tears, tears, tears.
- Random throwbacks (Robots Vs. Wrestlers, Cockamouse, etc etc)
Everything else that didn’t:
-That ending. The only positive is the twist ending explains the emphasis on the Robin/Ted relationship throughout the story.
- Not giving Lily and Marshall (arguably the greatest tv couple since Coach and Tami Taylor) more screen time. We are told their story through phone calls and asides. Not enough Marshmellow and Lilypad. And those wigs! Blaugh.
- Speaking of not enough, not enough of the Mother! Tracy (interestingly also the same name as George Michael’s unseen mother from Arrested Development) was charming, delightful, and a great match for Ted. Her callous offscreen death was rude.
It was actually reading Josh Radnor’s interview with Vulture that softened my initial angry reaction to the finale.
In theory, I didn't hate the fact that Ted “ended up” with Robin. The execution was just awful. I get that the show’s writers wanted us to question the idea of “the one”, and subvert expectations, and show the audience that just because two people might not work together when they’re 30, doesn't mean they can’t or won’t at 40 or 50. I love the idea that an older Ted is still at his core optimistic about love. If HIMYM really is about the journey, the writers shouldn't have put such an emphasis on the destination. Don’t bring back the blue French Horn. Don’t recreate the pilot. That takes away from all of the wonderful and frustrating things that happened in the middle.
The Ugly: The Good Wife
This was the most heart wrenching ending of the three. The facts: Josh Gardner who plays dashing Will Gardner wanted out of his contract. His friend, producer, and lead actor Juliana Margulies persuaded him to stay for another 10 episodes. Two weeks ago, Will Gardner was killed by a defendant in courtroom crossfire. Everyone, including his former lover and colleague Alicia Florrick (Margulies) is now picking up the pieces. Show runners Robert and Michelle King debated a few possible endings. “We could “send [Will] off to Seattle,” he could be disbarred, or get married, or go off to Borneo to do good works. But there was something in the passion that Will and Alicia shared that made distance a meager hurdle. The brutal honesty and reality of death speaks to the truth and tragedy of bad timing for these two characters. Will’s death propels Alicia into her newest incarnation.”
While critics of the plot twist derided the move as cheap, “Scandal-like”, and reeking of soap opera shenganings, I disagree. They didn’t build to Will’s death in any significant way, and they spent an entire episode showing different characters (including a normally cynical David Lee) reacting and grieving in their own way. The writers are now using this opportunity to explore a new direction for Alicia.
Note to Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. This is how it’s done. Now excuse me, I have to react to all of these fictional events. Spoiler alert: there’s a lot of ugly crying and night cheese involved.