Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HIMYM; Remind me, why haven't I written about this show yet?

Have you ever heard the story of how your parents met? I have, many times, probably more than others because they met here at Rochester. It’s a practiced two-minute presentation that my sister loves to tell.

The son and daughter of Ted Mosby on the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” (hence forth known as HIMYM) are probably not as partial to their father’s rendition of the tale, or should I say saga, of how their parents met. They have now been listening to their father (narrated by the voice of Bob Saget) for five years. As Ted told them in the pilot episode “it’s a long story.” Follow the link for more suiting up, freeze-frame high fives, and waves of psychatude.

HIMYM is not your typical sitcom. Yes, there’s a group of friends. Sure, they live in New York City. And all right, they are trying to find love and success during their late 20’s.

But I promise you, this isn’t “Friends”. They hang out a bar. Not a coffee shop.

Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Barney returned back to McLaren’s bar for their fifth season with a strong audience and even stronger stories. The momentum this small show has gained over the past several years in a rough time slot is impressive to say the least.

Despite the show’s title, the majority of the fans that tune in each week really aren’t watching the show for the big mother reveal. While that is the premise upon which the show operates, HIMYM is a sitcom about five best friends.

It’s about Marshall (Jason Segal) and Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) college romance that turned into one of the sweetest and most sincere marriages on television.

It’s about Canadian Robin Sherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) dealing with her commitment issues while trying to become a successful newscaster despite her current 2am time slot.

It’s about Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and his legend—wait for it, I hope you’re not lactose in-tolerant because the second half of this word is—dary catch phrases.

And of course, it’s about architect turned teacher Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) trying to construct his life from the ground up.

For the record, I could care les about the ever-elusive mother. I am much more content to watch stories that have little or nothing to do with how Ted meets the woman who will be his wife. Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have proven again and again throughout the past four years that this show is told at it’s best when the writers don’t get bogged down in the “mythology” of the sitcom.

The show really hit its stride when Ted was in a relationship with Robin, who we knew would not be the mother. Some of the most creative and original episodes aired during the period when there was no pressure for Ted because he had a girlfriend.

On the opposite end, HIMYM displayed it’s worst when Ted introduced us to Stella, an actual potential candidate for the mother role, who failed to live up to any expectations the audience had. She was wrong for him, and apparently the writers realized this. Ted and Stella broke up on their wedding day in the fourth season.

The mythical creature that the mother has become, has turned into what I can only equate to Disney’s Space Mountain roller coaster. You wait hours and hours on a line for a 2 minute ride that is not nearly as good as you expected. In the end what you remember the most is the wait, the build up, the anxiety and the excitement. And then you remember the inevitable let down.
So I’ve chosen to forget about the ride itself, and enjoy the wait.

I would be perfectly happy, nay, ecstatic, if in the final episode of the series (hopefully a long, long time from now), the last shot we see is Ted smiling at some girl across the room with the voice over from Bob Saget saying “And that kids, is how I met your mother.”

There would be no let down, no way for us to criticize the casting, or the chemistry. We would be left with the memory of a show we love, the way it really is.

Not a show driven by Ted’s search for his wife, but a show driven by five great characters and the ridiculous stories they have to tell. The pineapple incident; the discovery that one of their best friend’s was a Canadian teenage pop star; the wedding of a college roommate; the search for each gang member’s doppelganger.

HIMYM’s unique sitcom story-telling style gives it an edge when people just call it a “Friends” copycat. The show is marked by freeze frames, flash backs, flash forwards, time jumps, stories within stories within stories, and much more.

When the writers embrace their anecdotal capabilities and put the overarching narrative aside, HIMYM is, to borrow a phrase, legendary.

1 comment:

Wags said...

this post is beautiful! you captured it so well. i got chills. miss you!