How I Coped With Your TV Show Finale (for instance, on How I Met Your Mother)

So happy. So ignorant. (Ron Jaffe / CBS)
So happy. So ignorant. (Ron Jaffe/CBS)

All’s well that ends well. But some things don’t. In case one of those things was your favorite TV series, here are a few tips for working through the grieving process and rules for the future.

10) Try not to think, just yet, about how all these Startling Developments are going to ruin your rerun-watching experience and the favorite in-jokes that this has spoiled. You did not let midi-chlorians ruin the Star Wars trilogy, did you? No, you did not — because of a magical thing that you like to call denial. Who needs the other stages of grief? Not you. Denial is where all the fun is. Embrace it.

9) Whenever someone says “Why are you irate? They’re just fictional, made-up characters! These aren’t your real-life friends,” hiss angrily and point out that if these were your real-life friends, this would be a MUCH LESS LIFE-SHATTERING EVENT. You don’t invite your real-life friends into your home for an hour every week and shush people when they try to talk over them. You don’t swap fan theories about which of your friends is the Yellow King. If your real-life friends were anywhere near this compelling, you would not have invested this much time in a television series. Then again, your real-life friends do not have a talented, dedicated writing staff or include Neil Patrick Harris.

8) Look, I’m sorry. Not every TV show can be “Breaking Bad,” as the people who watched “Breaking Bad” are constantly reminding us. Nor can every TV show finale be the finale of “Breaking Bad,” as the people who watched “Breaking Bad” are also constantly reminding us.

7) In fact, if we have learned anything from past experience, we should know that any show with a really clever premise, like, say, “Lost,” that claims it had its end-game figured out all along really means that none of the cool evolution of the show will pay off in any way in the big series finale. Instead, the obvious, simple theory that everyone guessed would happen but discarded in season three or four or five or six because by then it NO LONGER MADE SENSE is the thing that will still happen in the last episode of the whole series. If you’ve known all along, something is the matter. It is like forcing an adult to abide by what her 6-year-old self picked out for career day. This can only end in tears and someone being forced to be a “veterinarian princess” because she “knew it all along.” The only reason you picked that is because you did not yet know that science existed!

6) Just because you had to wait a really really long time does not mean that there is a great payoff. (See: certain honeymoons and cupcake lines.)

5) Remember that happy endings are a lie concocted by masseuses and the authors of fairy tales for children.

4) Really, nothing that ends can be perfectly happy, and it’s the journey, not the destination. (Although, doesn’t this let the destination off the hook? The whole point of the journey was to get to the destination. This whole saying is very pre-GPS. You got into this car because Dan assured you he knew where you were going. The journey was, indeed, great at first, but now you’ve been driving on a dirt road for the several hours and Dan has a strange, set expression, and, really, you are starting to enjoy the journey a little bit less and Dan should maybe call someone and ask for directions because you are going to run out of snacks soon.)

3) At least you’re not alone. Imagine if you had read “In Search of Lost Time” instead and were this disappointed when it ended! Instead of having All of Twitter there to support you, you would have No One, and you would be forced to attend expensive conferences or to approach madeleine-eating strangers with a certain alarming glint in your eye.

2) Shout, “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY DID YOU MAKE ME LOVE YOU IF YOU WERE GOING TO DO THIS TO ME?” Explain, after your neighbor comes over looking concerned, that you were talking to a TV series.

1) Move on. Find something else that you will love and be horribly, inevitably disappointed by. Reassure yourself that this time, you will be ready. You won’t be. But that’s life. And TV, too, when it’s good.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.
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Alexandra Petri | March 31