TV Roundup: How I Met Your Mother, #19
So far, our journey has gotten us this far:
21. Kids In The Hall
And ... here is where, already, we are in squishy territory. I know, I can't quite believe it myself. But it's not that I doubt how much I like this show -- it's that I tend to sometimes overstate, even to myself, how much I like something right when I'm watching or listening to it.
Want proof? Fortunately, I haven't seen evidence that anyone kept this, but I used to e-mail out my top music of the year (this was, largely speaking, in the pre-blog world). And yes, a long time ago, I included Hootie and the Blowfish in my top-20 music of the year.
I'm not proud of this. I am already doubting my decision to leave that here in perpetuity. But moving on, I have a lot more confidence in choice 19. My 19th favorite show of all time is How I Met Your Mother.
Of course, she likes almost everything, so even this wasn't necessarily a clue that the show was any good. But almost immediately, I was hooked.
And that's somewhat of a point - the show was already in its second season, when it really got going. Lifetime has been airing the reruns, and watching the first season from the start, it is clear it didn't quite have its sea legs yet. But it's now headed into its sixth season, and even its weakest moments have been pretty darn strong.
Presumably the story of how Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) met the mother of the two children he's telling a story to. It's a device the show uses - with some lack of consistency - and you have to get past the fact, quickly, that no father would actually be telling their kids these kinds of stories.
What stories are those? Many focus on the lecherous womanizer Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris, stealing almost every scene he's in), and the bad situations that Marshall and Lily Erickson (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan) and Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) get themselves into. The cast has terrific chemistry, and the writing is generally speaking spot-on funny and referential in a way that most usually gets it right without going overboard.
One good example would be, as part of one of the best episodes ever ("Slap Bet"), the gang discovers a dark secret about Robin -- that she used to be a Canadian pop singer called Robin Sparkles:
While this is much, much funnier when you know the characters, anyone who lived through the 1980's recognizes how well they've nailed it here. (And yes, the characters aren't old enough to have been doing this in the 80's ... which they 'solve' nicely by saying that in Canada, they just get everything late.)
Barney is, of course, the breakout star. Here is a collection of some of his better moments, compiled by someone on YouTube with a lot of time.
Barney's character also maintains a blog, and a pretty solid Twitter account. Both are legen -- wait for it -- dary.
If there's one complaint I have, it's that the show still seems to believe its viewers actually care about who the actual mother will be. Critic Alan Sepinwall, among others, have said that they'd be pleased if the show introduced some random woman on the last episode and said, "Yep, that's how I met your mother," and leave it at that. Because the small stories they create are so well done, so genuinely funny, that the larger story is pretty much noise. Plus, Ted has turned into a bit more of a douchey character (though not quite to "Ross in Friends levels yet") and it's harder to care about that aspect of the story.
Point of trivia: Her actual real name is Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders, with "Cobie" being a nickname for Jacoba. That's a hell of a long name, friends. In any case, people should give her more work.
Layered into the show is a real sweetness, and something that captures the essence of a group of friends in their late 20's or early 30's, making (or resisting, violently) the transition into the next, more adult portions of their lives. Whether it's career struggles (and everyone save Barney has had one on the show), relationship troubles (and even Barney isn't spared here) or other things every viewer can relate to, it often manages to feel quite real in the midst of a preposterous plotline. I may simply be in the right place at the right time, but so what?
So there you have it. How I Met Your Mother, or HIMYM as you may see sometimes on The Twitter, is my 19th favorite show of all time.
And, as of this writing, Marshall still has one more slap left to give.