Today, I explain why Daisy Jones and the Six succeeded with its finale while How I Met Your Mother failed with relatively similar approaches to their finales.
Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of pop culture history that interests me that doesn’t quite fit into the other features.
SPOILERS FOR DAISY JONES AND THE SIX AND HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Something that struck me as I was watching the finale of Amazon Prime’s miniseries, Daisy Jones and the Six, is that its finale was very similar in a significant way to the finale of How I Met Your Mother. However, I think Daisy Jones pulled off its finale while I think How I Met Your Mother failed and it was all simply a matter of… time.
To recap, Daisy Jones and the Six‘s framing sequence was a late 1990s documentary about the short-lived but VERY successful rock band, Daisy Jones and the Six. The documentary set up then sent us to flashbacks to the 1970s for the “real” story. Similarly, How I Met Your Mother‘s framing sequence was Ted Mosby in the Year 2030 telling his children how he met their mother, which is spread out over the years 2005-2013, which consist of the “real” story of the series.
Daisy Jones and the Six‘s central relationship was the tortured “Will they or won’t they?” romance of lead singers/main songwriters Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne, while a good chunk of How I Met Your Mother was about Ted and his failed romance with Robin Scherbatsky, who we learned, in a twist, in the very first episode, would specifically NOT be the mother of the kids (the pilot ends with “And that’s how I met your Aunt Robin”).
In both cases, though, when the finale catches up to “present day” (amusingly, present day is still the past for Daisy Jones and it is the future in How I Met Your Mother), we learn that Billy’s daughter is doing the documentary and her mother (Billy’s wife) has died during the production of the documentary, while the mother on How I Met Your Mother has ALSO died. Therefore, the deaths of the respective mothers on the shows were the driving forces of the flashbacks in the first place.
Billy and Ted are then pushed by their respective children to reunite with Daisy and Robin, respectively, in the present day, and the series both end up with those couples presumably getting together in a way that they never could have when Billy, Ted, Daisy and Robin were younger.
I think Daisy Jones‘ ending worked well (with Billy’s wife literally speaking to him and Daisy from beyond the grave, telling Billy he should go talk to Daisy and Daisy should let him in, after all, they both still owed her a song), but I think How I Met Your Mother‘s ending didn’t work, and I think it comes down to the timing of everything.
In the case of Daisy Jones, we just got ten episodes, so everything flowed naturally. We had followed Daisy and Billy’s deepening and tortured relationship throughout those ten episodes, so when we cut to the “present” and learn that Billy’s wife (who he was too committed to to ever be with Daisy) has passed away, the flow is natural.
The creators of How I Met Your Mother came up with the idea of their ending at the end of Season 2 (in part because the kids were aging too much). At that point in the show, Robin and Ted’s relationship had been the centerpiece of the first two seasons. So it made perfect sense. It would have been a great ending for Season 2. The problem is that the show kept going for another SEVEN SEASONS, and since the creators knew that they had in their back pocket that Ted and Robin would be getting together in the end, they then spent those seven seasons insisting that Ted and Robin DIDN’T belong together. Every season would have a “Maybe Ted and Robin SHOULD be together….nah” moment, and they even a multiple season arc where Robin falls in love with another one of the main characters, Barney Stinson, and marries him earlier in the series finale…and then quickly divorce as we fast-forward in time.
Plus, at the end of Season 8, How I Met Your Mother cast the brilliant Cristin Milioti as the Mother, and spent Season 9 getting to know her through flashbacks and flashforwards leading up to the “official” first meeting in the series finale. By this point, way too much time had passed for the show to just do an abrupt “Okay, the mother is dead, but don’t worry, Ted and Robin are back together in the future!” plot. The show’s narrative had passed the point of the ending still working, but the creators stuck to it, and it didn’t work.
So even though both endings were quite similar, Daisy Jones earned its ending, while How I Met Your Mother did the opposite.
Feel free to e-mail me at my all-new, much shorter e-mail address, email@example.com, for suggestions for shows for us to do in future installments!