Why? For many, or at least the three reasons I’ve outlined here:
1) Because it provides many possibilities for comedy and drama that linear stories don’t. There is the aspect of the unreliable narrator. There is the opportunity to fill-in-the-blanks when the writers need an idea for an episode, but also to flesh out some stories that might need more muscle when or if they are vital to the end game of when Ted meets the mother. The beauty is that everything that’s included in Ted’s journey to the mother, does get him to the mother. I’ll continue this idea more in number 3.
2) There is, or at least can be a clear cut ending. Of course there is much speculation over how a show will end and as every good story MUST do, it raises major questions that has the audience guessing. As we’ve recently seen in the first episode of the 8th season (SPOLIER ALERT!!!), Ted might meet the mother on the train platform in Farhampton. Or does he meet her on the train? Or does he not meet her until they get off the train? Or do they meet somewhere else and just happen to ride that train together? OR…
3) For me, bottom line, How I Met Your Mother provides hope that many things can and will happen before that “special day”. And that “special day” doesn’t have to be when I meet the mother of my children. It can be any day of significance that involves the completion of a goal. Ha! Did I just indirectly say that meeting the mother of my children is a goal? Wow. Maybe I need a bit of change in perspective, or not. It is a goal for my life. Maybe I’ve already met her but for whatever reason, whatever was going on in her life or what was going on in my life, dictated that we weren’t meant to spend the time together that it would take to lead us down the path towards mother and fatherhood. Or maybe not. The one thing I take away from HIMYM, is that sometimes all this other stuff has to happen before that one thing can happen and that the moment can be enjoyed and reflected upon in a healthy, non-(slowing) way. As is often the case, we don’t reflect enough to realize that everything in life will happen when it’s supposed to, or hopefully. As Stella says to Ted in [insert episode title], “she’s coming as fast as she can” – meaning the mother of course – and that Ted just needs to give her the time to get there, and by default, Ted needs to enjoy himself and build the life he wants while he “waits” for her to show up, all the while, not stopping to continue his search for her as well.
As Dev Patel’s character says in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: “Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, it is not yet the end.”