HIMYM is a show that resonated with me on a very personal level. I think shows like this are great because they give you a lot of time to get to know the characters, and the plot is extremely sappy. Sometimes this can be done well, sometimes this can be done poorly. HIMYM is an odd example of how to do it well, how to do it poorly, and how to fall somewhere in the middle category. Although I like the show, I pride myself on honest criticism, and if you’re looking for reasons to binge watch or altogether avoid the show, you’ll definitely find some here. There will be minor spoilers ahead, so be forewarned if you’re trying to stay spoiler free.
Ted Mosby is a young architect living in New York, sharing an apartment with his friends Marshall and Lily. He met Marshall in college and Lily through Marshall in college. The two have lived together since, and thus is the nest that’s formed. Barney meets Ted some years later, and is a crazy womanizer who pulls off even crazier stunts. Robin meets them somewhere near the beginning of the story and is a Canadian journalist whose down in America for work. This is all played out through Ted as he tells his grown up children how he met their mother.
I want to talk about the cast. Hands down, this show would have never worked with anyone else playing Barney Stinson. I know that’s a pretty odd statement to make, considering he was cast for the part, and its not like they’ll ever recast it. However, I more so mean that Neil Patrick Harris’s broadway bravado and often mystical ability to capture an audience are part of what make this show the experience that it is. He is a once in a lifetime character, larger than life, akin to a character like House yet falling on the comedic spectrum. Without Barney Stinson to do a crazy musical number, a hilarious joke, or something totally out of left field, the show falls apart. Without Barney, the show becomes yet another FRIENDS clone.
Ted Mosby is a character that evolves in a very weird way. If you’ve ever seen Scrubs, I see his arc akin to the likes of Bob Kelso. In the beginning, he was more serious, and although jokey, he never flew over the line. As the show progressed, he became more “nerdy” and outlandish. The same could be said of Bob Kelso, who began stern but then fell into jokes about age and retirement. Ted does much the same as a “geek” or “nerd”. Then, we have Lily and Marshall. They serve as the group’s “rock”. They’re the one link to what a successful relationship looks like, as the other characters are constantly in flux. Then, you have Robin. Oh, Robin. We’ve got an entire paragraph dedicated to you.
Robin is one of the worst elements of the show, and also one of the best. She serves for one of the most contrived plot points in all of television. The on again, off again girlfriend that is the apple of Ted’s eye throughout the series. I feel that often, Robin’s presence in the show cheapens the plot, and unfortunately, due to her presence, the ending turns out to be a bit of a mixed bag, and I can understand why fans weren’t exactly thrilled by it. Robin is an unlikable character on paper, but due to her mold breaking antics and the fun way that Colbie Smulders plays her, I think that ultimately, she’s a necessary(ish) part of the show.
What sets the show apart from FRIENDS boils down to two major things. While FRIENDS was the daily exploits of a group of FRIENDS in New York, the baseline of the show wasn’t devoted to the idea of love, or romance. HIMYM is basically a huge romantic comedy that takes place over nine seasons. So, if you don’t like romantic comedies in two hour forms, it’ll be pretty hard for you to sit for nine seasons of it. The reason I refer to it as such is that the heartbeat of the show is based around romance. I mean, the whole plot is started with Ted telling his kids how he met their mother. Another curious, but nitpicking thing that I’ve thought of is Bob Saget. Bob is the narrator, the voice of older Ted. I don’t understand this, because by the end of the show, when we do get to older Ted, the voices are completely different, why not just use Josh Radnor (who plays Ted) throughout the series?
That’s pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, though. One thing I will say, the ending is pretty contrived. It’s bold because the creators essentially used an ending that they had though of on DAY 1. For a writer, that’s INSANE. Seeing as how scripts and actors consistently evolve, having an entire plot line laid out and an ending from the first day of filming…well, I have to give some props for that. Ultimately though, it did leave fans divided, and I have a pretty good understanding as of why. It’s a boring ending, and one that you could call from three episodes out if you’re observant. Oh, and the ninth season is an absolute slog. They made some pretty poor writing choices when they laid that one out.
Ultimately, if you’re a fan of romantic comedy and long form storytelling, you’ll get enjoyment out of HIMYM. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Is it fun? Absolutely. It’s a fun and endearing tale about a group of friends who face the realities of adult life and also look for love throughout the series. It’s well acted, well directed, but occasionally not so well written. Give it a chance, but beware of the ninth season.
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