“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…”
–Ted Mosby, “Pilot” How I Met Your Mother, 1×01
“Hi— I’m Ted Mosby. And 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.”
–Ted Mosby, “Time Travelers” How I Met Your Mother, 8×20
A few weeks ago I sat down to watch what seemed to be a perfectly light-hearted and fun concept episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted and Barney’s future selves tried to convince them to go and see Robots vs Wrestlers (a great call back to season 5) while Marshall and Robin were involved in an all out war over who got a drink named after them that ended in a dance off. It was a perfectly fluffy episode until things started to take a turn. It started to get dark when Coat Check Girl from Season One (Free Jayma Mays from Glee!! Also, please give her a sandwich) walked into McClaren’s and Ted seemed to go and talk to her. We saw the conversation play out with coat check girl’s future selves appearing and essentially saying the relationship is doomed from the beginning because they will eventually end because “that’s how it always works for you, Ted.”
It was like a punch to the stomach. Little did I know what was coming next.
Because then Barney said to Ted that none of this had ever happened. That he had actually been sitting in alone in the booth at McClaren’s the whole time because Lily and Marshall were at home with Marvin and Robin and Barney were at their apartment wedding planning. “Look around you, Ted. You’re all alone.” And then future Ted began to reflect on all the things he WOULD have done that night if he had known the future. He would have gone back to Marshall and Lily’s. He would have spent time playing middle man in Barney and Robin’s wedding planning. He would have gone to his own apartment and soak its atmosphere in. But most of all…he would have gone running to his future wife to tell her that he was going to meet her in 45 days.
Cue me sobbing.
(It was a monologue so perfectly delivered by Josh Radnor that it would win him an Emmy if the voters would pay attention to anyone in this cast other than the brilliant Neil Patrick Harris.)
Some fans found this episode confusing. I didn’t. At all. It’s an episode about the fact that you never know how close you may be to finding happiness. Ted is in a dark place right now. All of his close friends are paired off and yet he can’t seem to find anyone that sticks. He’s losing hope. He’s feeling like he’s always going to be alone. And he has NO IDEA how close he is to getting his happy ending. He has no idea that everything he’s ever wanted is literally just over 6 weeks away. Future Ted can look back at that night and know how close he was. We, the viewers, have always known that Ted finds happiness. But present Ted doesn’t know that. And that’s why this show is so beautiful. How I Met Your Mother has always been a show that is about the journey. It’s NOT really about meeting the mother (though we all WANT to and more importantly we want to see them fall in love), it’s about what it took to become the person that the mother would fall in love with. It’s about navigating that weird time in your life that is your late twenties and early thirties. And ultimately it’s a show about hope. Because even when our characters in the present day don’t have any, we, the viewers, do. Because we know that it all ends well.
Here’s the thing with me and How I Met Your Mother: I am the exact same age as the characters. And that’s why I hold them so dear. They are probably closer to my heart than even my beloved Friends (the show that HIMYM is most comparable to) because I have aged along with them and they have felt like my friends. Their “lives” have so often felt like MY life…to the point where I have often joked that the writers have hidden cameras in my apartment. Sage astutely put it this way: since Friends debuted when we were much younger, it always felt more like a fantasy life How I Met Your Mother feels more like real life. With better apartments and wardrobes.
I can admit the show has had some rough patches creatively. All long running shows do. But the good ones find their way out of them. Even in its rougher periods HIMYM has managed to tug at my heartstrings. I will be a fan of it for life and I will always defend it and its characters. It often seems that Ted Mosby is in the middle of most criticisms about the show. I’ve read complaints that he is the least compelling character on the show. That’s he’s snobby and douchey and generally just unbearable as a person.
Well. I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. Ted Evelyn Mosby is AWESOME.
And I am not just saying that because his journey is the one I tend to identify with the most emotionally.
We’ve seen Ted go on this journey from the idealistic guy in pilot who is love with the IDEA of being in love with someone to a man who is actually READY for marriage and all that it brings in. It’s been a long journey and one that has gone down some questionable paths. Ted has been unbearably whiny. He’s been a smarmy douchebag. He’s chosen the wrong women (Zooey, Victoria 2.0, this last crazy girl whose name I can’t even remember). He held on to his feelings for Robin too long. I’m not denying any of the claims against his character. But I WILL say that his character HAD to go through all of those things to be fully ready for the woman he’s going to spend the rest of his life with. He needed to go on this ridiculous and fun and often frustrating path. And he’s here. Almost at the end. At last. That’s why I was so overwhelmed by the ending of “The Time Travelers”. I have spent 8 years watching this character grow and struggle and to know that his journey is ALMOST complete is incredibly rewarding.
Hang in there, Teddy Westside. You are SO close. And you don’t even know it.
So if his character arc isn’t enough for you, here are ten more reasons why Ted Mosby is awesome…
10) “The Wedding Bride”
You have to appreciate someone who endured a romantic comedy that was (VERY loosely) based on his pain. Especially when the girl you are dating, all your friends, Kim Jong-il, and the entire world becomes obsessed with it, making The Wedding Bride the 5th highest grossing movie of all time
9) The Red Cowboy Boots
Pulling. It. Off. GCWOK approved.
8) College Ted
So wonderfully pretentious. And we mustn’t forget this.
7) He’s never afraid to make an ass out of himself.
Say what you want about Ted, but he has NEVER been afraid to put himself out there even if it results in a massive failure.
6) The Salute and Repeat
This recurring gag has become a wonderful bit of continuity on HIMYM, as it has popped up at least once a season since it debuted. And I forever feel the urge to salute and repeat whenever I hear someone say “General Knowledge”, “Major Pain” etc etc…
5) Drunk Ted
“The Pineapple Incident” is HIMYM‘s greatest episode after “Slap Bet”. Some would argue it is even the best one they have ever done. It’s amazing this was in the first season. Drunk Ted’s proclamation of love to everyone in McClaren’s launched one of the world’s greatest gifs and fandom declarations ever.
4) He bought his future family home when it was a dilapidated wreck and restored it himself.
“Sometimes our best decisions are the ones that don’t make sense at all.”
Ted often makes impulsive choices. Like buying his “dream house” as a reaction to his mother getting married for a second time (when he hasn’t even been married ONCE!). His heart, as Marshall so eloquently puts it, is “both drunk and a kid”.
“That’s the thing about stupid decisions – we all make them, but time is funny and sometimes a little magical. It can take a stupid decision, and turn it into something else entirely. Because kids, as you know, that house… is *this* house.”
3) The Two Minute Date
“And THAT, kids, is how you turn a no into a yes.”
My favorite grand romantic gesture in a show that is FULL of amazing grand romantic gestures.
2) The Blue French Horn
Ted stealing the blue French Horn on his first date with Robin is one of the most iconic moments of the series. It shows exactly what kind of guy he is. He’s the guy who will go to any length to make a girl happy. Even if it involves larceny.
He would have stolen her an entire orchestra.
1) He’s the Ultimate Best Friend
Ted will do anything for his friends. He’s the perfect bro (consult The Bro Code. He’s never broken it). He’s the friend who will go with you to lick the Liberty Bell (it tastes like freedom). He will decorate your entire apartment with Christmas Lights to cheer you up. He will give you the encouragement to propose to the woman of your dreams, even though she had been the love of his life for years. Once you are friends with Ted Mosby, you are friends with him for life.
And we should all be so lucky to have a friend like that.
So I will never hear a word against him.