How I Met Your Mother has finally been dragged kicking and screaming to a conclusion and now we know exactly how that titular mother was met. Nine seasons and 70 hours of television later the hit sitcom of the noughties has finally been euthenised in front of an audience of millions
You can probably sense a certain level of disdain for the show in that opening paragraph and while yes, I have come to loathe it and how it has been handled by creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, I didn't always feel this way.
While it was never even close to the level of Friends - the show's spiritual predecessor and clear inspiration - in its first few seasons HIMYM was a perfectly fun little sitcom to spend 20 minutes with each week.
So what makes it "the Lost of sitcoms"? Well like Lost, HIMYM has a central mystery that kept people hooked for years. However, it is this mystery that has also made peoplegradually dislike the show more and more.
How I Met Your Mother isn't as complex as Lost but has weaved an intricate little universe of its own, full of recurring characters, pivotal events and toying around with its own timeline. The goat, the slap bet, and the yellow umbrella – it is a show which had its own little Macguffins and regularly dropped hints as to its ultimate answer.
Like Lost, HIMYM's mystery has been drawn out for far too long. Both shows did this in an effort to elongate their success. Last year Breaking Bad did well to finish after five seasons when it could easily have gone on for one or two more, but it is one of few to do so.
It's the curse of all popular shows: do you stretch your story out for maximum gains and probably flanderise your characters in the process, or do you tell the story you want to tell in a timeframe that makes sense?
Other sitcoms get away with lasting upwards of 10 seasons because they don't often have as large a central plot thread. Friends had Ross and Rachel, but that was a 'will-they-won't-they?' that peppered the series. HIMYM's central plot is more of a 'they-will-but-when-will-they?'.
Knowing the ultimate outcome of a series but not the details doesn't have to present problems but it has for How I Met Your Mother, in large part because of the relentless flogging of Ted (Josh Radnor) and Robin's (Cobie Smulders) relationship.
The two characters met and first dated in the show's pilot episode. They dated for a while, they broke up, but Ted never let go of what might have been. This was stretched out longer than it should have been and always felt ultimately pointless because we know for a fact they will not end up with each other.
Every time the issue of Ted and Robin is brought up the audience's groans - and in later seasons yelled pleas for mercy - can be heard from space.
The extent of how excruciatingly drawn out the show has become is evidenced in this final season - 24 episodes which all take place over a single weekend. The show could have easily ended after its already-one-too-many eighth season, but it felt the need to eke out just a little bit more than even the most ardent fan wanted.
How I Met Your Mother's end is well overdue. For many who love the show it was a fond, maybe even tearful farewell, but many more will have greeeted its rolling credits with a sigh of relief. HIMYM will go down in TV history as having a very interesting concept, but it will never be a classic sitcom series like Friends, Frasier or Seinfeld – and the show can only blame itself.