How I Met Your Mother does a great job of combining its two central themes: romance and hilarity. I wish I could do as good a job combining my two central themes about it: appreciation and distaste.
Following that, I will start off by saying: this is a very good show, a great show even. It had its missteps though, and I’ll get to those. First, I’ll discuss the elements of the show that work. What really sells How I Met Your Mother is the cast and the premise.
So first: the cast. There is an all-star cast, possibly the most esteemed sitcom cast I’ve ever seen. First, the only unknown out of them, is Josh Radnor who plays Ted Mosby. Ted is a kinda shy guy, that’s the hopeless romantic looking for “the one”. His character is very human and is definitely supposed to be the most relatable. I hadn’t seen Radnor in anything else, so I’m assuming he’s either a really cool actor, or is just typecast for the shy, awkward, relatable guy. But then there’s Jason Segel playing Marshall. I had seen Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Bad Teacher, and probably a couple other average comedies where he pretty much plays the same role. In this show he breaks from that though. Marshall is quirky, funny, nice and possibly resembles me the most, which is why I like him so much. Marshall is also already set up with Lily, which gives him the opportunity to do more of the show’s comedy while Ted is doing more of the show’s romance. And speaking of Lily, Alyson Hannigan from American Pie plays Lily. Now I was worried that she too would play the same role as she did in American Reunion, only she was the one that proved me the most wrong. After the Pilot, you totally see her as her character and not Michelle from Band Camp. And her character, Lily, is really shaped by great writing too. The writers make Lily feel like the girl that any guy would be lucky to have. And there’s another one of those in this show too: Robin. Robin is Ted’s sorta love interest as played by Cobie Smulders. Smulders, who I knew from The Avengers, sells you her performance as Robin, the girl that Ted needs to chase after. It would be so easy for Ted to be going after this girl that’s too good for him (which he does in Season 5, both in flashbacks and the present), but Smulders delivers here. You buy that she is a girl worth chasing after. And speaking of chasing after girls, (it’s all been leading up to this) we have Neil Patrick Harris completing the star-studded cast as the womanizer, the bro, the clever, the witty, the legendary Barney Stinson. In addition to Marshall’s nice guy humor, Barney just makes every episode the best comedic episode it could be, times two. I said Marshall is the guy I’m most like, Ted’s the most-relatable, but Barney is the one that every guy wants to be. Barney is just going off on these absurd monologues about what being a true bro is, and all his plays of how to get women and, like I said, Barney just makes every episode the best one it could possibly be.
However, Barney is one attribute of why I’ve heard people (specifically women) dislike the show. That is understood. This is a guy show, for sure. I mean Barney is chasing after some new, dumb girl in every episode, so I’m not surprised girls aren’t saying, “oh he’s just the best!”. So girls, you may find this show to be either okay, or out of your taste, but all my bros, it’s awesome.
But going back to the other positive of the show is the storyline. So the show is centered around future Ted Mosby (as voiced by Bob Saget in an awesome narration role) telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. Of course, this story takes nine seasons, but in any episode that isn’t relevant to the over-arching story there is just shenanigan after shenanigan and hilarity after hilarity, which is really cool! How I Met Your Mother really changed the game for the sitcom when introducing this overarching theme and a real story surrounding it, which left a precedent for sitcoms to follow.
Now this over-arching story is part of what I thought made the show really cool… for the first four-ish seasons. After that, it started to work against show’s favor. This part of the review is completely spoiler-free, and I’ll do my best to hold that up, but in the next few days, I’ll post a review of the show spoiler filled, more specifically what I would have done differently. But for now, spoiler free! So after Season 4, the show started to drag a little bit. Season 5 was the first hint, where it seemed like some episodes were just fillers, and they weren’t really expecting to be renewed. I don’t know if they were expecting a renewal or not, but the Season 4 finale felt like it could be a series finale and the writers didn’t really know where to go after it. After this though, Season 6 follows more of a “just relevant to that season” story with this new character introduced called Zoey. She doesn’t appear after Season 6, nor is she mentioned before, just relevant to that season. I would cut her some slack, but the actress isn’t even that funny, and her whole character and plotline feels completely forced and unnecessary. But then after she disappears, we move into Season 7 where the show feels like it’s beginning to gain traction back. It became a character-centered show again, where the previous two seasons felt like a situation-centered show. Like, Ted is single for a long while, and you think that’s setting up for him to meet the Mother at the end of Season 7, and end the show, but what do they do instead? He has like two or three more serious girlfriends! But then I said, “okay let me give this show the benefit of the doubt”. And the girlfriends he had did work in the show’s favor. They each contributed to the over-arching story and got Season 8 to become one of my favorite Seasons. Season 8 also moves all of the other characters forward too, showing how each of them evolved with Ted over the course of the show. But then the show makes this really strange decision at the end of the 8th Season, where again it felt like it was about to be cancelled. This decision really made Season 9 hard, because following my cancellation theory, the writers were probably expecting 13 episodes to wrap up the story. But they got 24, and there was just so much filler it was unforgivable. More on that in my spoiler review.
I won’t be talking about the finale too much here, but it will be in the spoiler section, though I didn’t have a problem with it. I actually thought the finale was in (maybe) my Top 15 episodes of the show. I had more of an issue with Season 9 and the storytelling method in general than the finale, which I previously mentioned. In fact, I think if they restructured Season 8 a little bit and did the same finale, it would have worked. Do you know why? Because that’s how it was supposed to be done! The show’s creators said, upon the Season 9 renewal, that they only needed eight seasons, but having nine was a privilege, or something like that. That’s TV-show-advertisement-fail 101 right there! You never admit: hey these episodes will probably be mostly filler. I know it seems like I’m doing a lot of exasperated complaining, but this show was so great for like 6 and a half, maybe even 7 out of 9 seasons!
I guess if you put that 7/9 together with the great, star-studded cast and cool premise, you get a show that, good or average, completely changed the game for sitcoms to compete with. And since I’ve been talking a fair amount about the lessons all of these shows and movies teach, I’ll do that here too. I really like the moral of this show. A lot of critics you read will tell you, “well by Season 3 why has he not met the Mother yet?”. The show is just trying to show the age-old moral: it’s about the journey, not the destination. The Mother isn’t introduced until the show is almost over, and that is just proving my point. Life, whether it be Ted Mosby’s life, my life, or your life, is a journey and if you actually think about life in that sense: it may just be the greatest story anyone could ever tell.
So guys, those are my thoughts on How I Met Your Mother. I’ll post my spoiler review tomorrow, but really don’t read it if you want the show spoiled for you. I do recommend you watch the show, despite a few complaints! Which begs the question, have you guys seen How I Met Your Mother? You should! Seasons 1-8 are on Netflix now, which is a good place to start! And what’s you favorite comedy on TV right now? HIMYM just ended, Community was cancelled, I’m really asking cuz I need a new favorite… Whatever those shows may be, leave me a comment down below, and as always: thanks for reading guys.