I started watching How I Met Your Mother in January, and I’m all caught up now. I really did not want to like this show, because while I love many conventional sitcoms (Friends, I Love Lucy, The Cosby Show, sometimes Seinfeld), I assumed that conventional sitcoms (multi-camera, laugh track, predictable plot points) made after the year 2004 were terrible, and I have been mostly right. 2 notable exceptions are of course Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother (shows that are not exceptions: Two and a Half Men, Two Broke Girls, Whitney, and the list goes on).
Anyway, as usual I’m late to jump on the bandwagon, but I’m happy to be here with the rest of you now, waiting to see how they fill in the blanks of Ted’s road to meeting the mother. As I was catching up I definitely had moments of eye rolling and frustration, especially as I watched through season 1, (Am I REALLY supposed to believe that Robin lived in a NYC apartment with 5 dogs, but we never see her walking them except for once, and she’s always out late and staying over at Ted’s? Where are the dogs doing their business??? Also, roaming from one party to the next in NEW YORK in one night is impossible, but on NEW YEARS EVE? Seriously? I’m all for suspension of disbelief, but come on I’m not five years old… and if I was I’d still know that was ridiculous, because even though I’m 5 years old that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot.) but overall I’ve found HIMYM to be really smart and special. Here are some reasons why:
The telling the story to your kids frame
This could have been just a gimmick, but HIMYM actually uses its frame to its advantage. We’re not wondering what the point of this show is, we know from day 1 that it’s all leading up to Ted telling his kids how he met their mother, so we’re engaged in the overall theme, they don’t have to convince us. Plus the fact that it’s being told back as a story, as opposed to happening in real time, means they have some leeway and can do wacky things like show Robin barely getting to work on time by riding her bike and doing a flip over an accident that’s in her way. Don’t question the reality, just chalk it up to really good story telling.
Related to telling the story to your kids, Narrator Ted (PS, how awesome is Bob Saget in this role?) doesn’t want to admit or expose certain things or to his kids (and some things you just can’t do on network television), so instead he makes up new stuff. So instead of getting high they eat really huge sandwiches. I love this because it’s functional but even more funny than the real thing.
Everyone loves it when a show takes a thing and makes it regular (Friends, “we were on a break!” The Office “that’s what she said”) and HIMYM is full of those thanks to Barney Stinson. Between “suit up” and “legen wait for it dary” and many others there are more than enough quotables. Plus they have other running bits that are more than just quotes. Like the Robin Sparkles episodes (Robin was a Canadian teen pop star, which produces some awesome and ridiculous episodes), the playbook, the Bro Code, the duckie tie, Barney’s affinity for laser tag, Interventions, and of course the Slap Bet.
Was that a flashback?
Lots of shows utilize the flashback to fill in how characters meet, but somehow HIMYM does flashforwards as well as flashbacks (both to times before the show begins, but also to previous seasons, and what with Lily’s changing hairstyles and Marshall’s weight fluctuation, that seems particularly impressive). You’ll watch an episode and they’ll reference something, and then you’ll see it fleshed out in a later episode. And really the whole thing is one elaborate flashback or flashforward depending on how you look at it. Anyway, this is what really made me continue to watch, I was so intrigued at their storytelling devices. I don’t know how they do this. Do they just shoot a ton of related things at once and place them appropriately later? Do they already have everything planned out exactly? Or do they just have one writer whose job it is to keep track of every little detail. Whatever it is, it’s impressive.
What about you, do you watch HIMYM?