How I Met Your Mother
CBS, 6 seasons, 2005 - ongoing
Producer: Bays and Thomas Production
Starring: Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby; Jason Segel as Marshall Eriksen; Alyson Hannigan as Lily Aldrin;
Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson; Cobie Smulders as Robin Scherbatsky
"Kids, allow me to tell you an incredible story - the story of how I met your mother."
"Are we being punished for something?"
So begins the pilot of one of the most successful sitcoms of the last decade. It is indeed an incredible story so far, and watching this show is certainly the opposite of punishment, unless your idea of punishment is laughing so hard it feels like torture. Sitcoms are usually not a favorite among the average "gamer" demographic, but if you've missed this one so far, you've been missing out.
Allow me to tell you an incredible story - the story of how I came across this show. I started watching it in 2007 as something to have on mostly as background noise while I studied for my college classes and waited for the second season of Heroes to come on. It was this show, Big Bang Theory, then Heroes. As I finished my homework earlier, I paid more attention to the shows before Heroes, and soon, I was anticipating the first two shows more. There was something about this show in particular that appealed to me. Allow me to investigate what it is about this show that makes it so appealing.
As the title suggests, this story is the story of how Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor, voice of Bob Saget in narration), a down-on-his-luck New York architect in his mid-20s/early 30s, met and married the woman of his dreams. However, he starts his story more than five years before he actually meets her, telling in great detail all of the events that ultimately lead to that fateful meeting. Central to the story are his best friends: Marshall (Jason Segel), his old college roommate; Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Marshall's fiancee/wife; Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), a sex-crazed party animal who considers Ted a "bro"; and Robin (Cobie Smulders), an independent-minded news anchor from Canada. Their life together as a group of best friends, living it up in New York City provides a basis for a great amount of laughs throughout the series.
Now, you probably can already see it. Wait a second, isn't that the same basic setup as two other wildly popular sitcoms from the '90s? Yes, there are certainly similarities to Friends and Seinfeld. Though I would say this show clearly borrows a lot more from Seinfeld than Friends. The comedy style is the more important, yet less noticeable similarity. Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother share a very similar basis for their comedy, mostly shown through banter, strange character quirks, and the patently absurd. It's not so much relationship-based or based on previous events, as much of the comedy of Friends was. Next, it is so far managing to keep the general mood of the show light-hearted, even through difficult moments in characters' lives, something Seinfeld also managed to do. Friends, on the other hand, became something of a prime-time soap opera in its later seasons. Lastly, I can just name off the equivalent characters between the casts of Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother. Ted = Jerry, Marshall = George, Robin = Elaine, and Barney = Kramer.
Despite these similarities, there is one glaring difference between the two '90s and this series that prevents it from being an outright copy. That difference is the narrative. The fact that the continuity of the show is leading up to a climactic moment ensures that the show will never become a "show about nothing", and that everything that happens has a purpose and a guaranteed impact on the overall storyline of the show beyond just becoming fodder for more humor later. It already has an ending that will probably be able to be wrapped up at any time to prevent the show from going stale and overstaying its welcome with fans. Various hints as to the identity of the mother and the exact day and moment the meeting happens are dropped throughout the series to keep viewers guessing about how it goes down. Don't expect this sitcom to fall into the later-season quality abyss that so many other popular sitcoms tend to end up in.
As far as production goes, I don't really have too much to say. It's a sitcom, so don't be expecting any wonders of visuals or sound quality. The writing and acting, though, are wonderful. While Ted is played mostly as the straight-man, all the major characters have a share in the comedy department. But it is NPH as Barney, with his constant womanizing schemes and zinging one-liners, who mostly steals the show. His performance is legen - wait for it - dary! Unfortunately, though, at times his character does tend to upstage the main plot of the episode if he is planning something during a more important event. The comedic timing is also very well done, stringing one joke along through an episode and mostly leaving it at that, with more ongoing ideas being brought back in just when you think you'd forgotten them and producing more of a nostalgic chuckle of surprise than anything else.
But in the end, what really appeals to me about this show is Ted himself. I'm a single guy in my mid-20s myself, and I have to say, watching the hopelessly romantic Ted in his constant quest to find "the one", I see myself in that same situation and can really empathize with his character. He's a nice guy you want to cheer for and it makes you hope that everything works out well for him in the end (even though you already know it does). It's a show that gives guys like us hope that maybe, like Ted, we too will find "the one" at some point and be able to settle down with someone we love. Even with the infinitely more nerd-centric Big Bang Theory on right after this show when I started watching it, I related more to this series than anything else on TV.
So, in conclusion, if you haven't seen this show yet, I strongly suggest you go down to your local video store and pick up the first season to give it a try. You won't be disappointed. This show is as awesome as Barney!
HIMYM is awesome indeed. I first encountered the show back in 2005, when I was an exchange student in the US. I watched the show and thought it was awesome, but I had no idea it would become as big as it is today, back then, but I'm glad it did. The first season was great, but the show has just become better and better since.
I agree somewhat with the notion that Barney carried the show, but I feel that, as the show has progressed, Ted and especially Marshall has become equally important in creating the humour of the show. That might just be me, but I feel the show would be a lot worse, with either of those three taken out.
Anyway, as for the actual, I think you wrote a great introduction to the show and hit the nail on the head for the important parts of what makes the show. Great job. Also, like you, I can strongly recommend people, who haven't already seen the show, to give it a chance, because of how awesome it is. It's my favourite comedy show and one of my favourites overall.