what i'm watching: 14 thoughts on watching how i met your mother (first time through so no spoilers please!)

I was watching MASH when Netflix pulled the plug on our VPN. I found a new VPN... but now MASH is gone. One day I hope to finish the end-to-end rewatch. But right then, my comedy-before-bed slot was left hanging. I tried "How I Met Your Mother," and I was very happily surprised.

I have not watched or read ahead, so please do not even allude to the ending. I understand many fans hated it, ok? No need to fill me in.

How I love "How I Met Your Mother".

1. Smart, character-driven comedy. Not easy to find.

2. Great female characters. Generally non-sexist, even anti-sexist.

3. Around Season 5, I thought the show was going off the rails, as Barney's character became more outrageous and non-believable -- usually a sure sign that a show is struggling. Then I was very surprised and happy that it found a new groove.

4. Most good comedies have at least a little pathos mixed in, and this show was brave enough to go there. Revealing the pain behind Barney's bravado was a bold move. Allowing Barney to care about Robin, also bold and feels credible.

5. I find myself getting into the relationships the way I did with, say, "Veronica Mars". I actually no longer care how Ted meets his soulmate. I'm way more interested in Barney and Robin.

6. Canada jokes. Occasionally a bit overdone, but I love the theme. Plus it's often a way to work in US jokes.

7. This is one of the funniest moments I've seen on any sitcom. I watched it three times then made Allan watch it with me. (I am now officially banned from ever doing that again.)

8. I am obsessed with this. The mannerisms and movements are so exactly perfect for a band playing this kind of music. I would be embarrassed to tell you how many times I've watched it. The first Robin Sparkles video was also dead-on. (The other Robin Sparkles vids were lame and unnecessary.)

9. I'm a little obsessed with Neil Patrick Harris's acting ability.

10. The occasional self-referential moments are great and not over-done.

11. First musical number in a non-musical show that I ever liked: Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit. Hated the musical episodes in Xena, beyond hated them in Buffy (two shows I love). Rarely liked them in The Simpsons. Loved it here.

12. I still haven't decided if the Seinfeld references are homage or rip-off. In general I love how the show updates the friends-hang-out motif -- a bar instead of a coffee shop, alcohol, recreational drugs, references to same-sex attraction in seemingly heterosexual characters.

13. The only thing I don't like: I find the Lily-and-Marshall perfect-couple-monogamy overdone. Granted, everyone's relationship "thing" is overdone, but this one just doesn't work for me.

14. New York City. Nicely done. Although the it-takes-five-minutes-to-get-anywhere that Seinfeld abused (Yankee Stadium!) is way worse here. Staten Island, for crissakes! But still. Good NYC stuff.


laura k said...

Argh! I just realized that the video I linked to for #7 cuts off the last two words, which is part of what makes it so hilarious. I gotta find a better link.

laura k said...


That clip also reminds me of something else I like about the show, which Seinfeld also did really well: showing characters' reactions to funny things other characters say. It's a little detail that builds an authentic feel, as if they're talking to each other, not to us.

Marie Snyder said...

I was fortunate enough to catch Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He was legen...wait-for-it...dary. But I'd avoid that whole last season.

laura k said...

I heard he was very good in that.

Last seasons usually suck. But once I've gone that far, I always soldier through. The last season of Xena was an abomination, but I made it through.

Amy said...

I am curious as to what you will say in the end. I loved this show at first for many of the reasons you describe. But at some point (even before the last season but definitely by then), I started finding it annoying---found Barney annoying, found Ted annoying, found Robin annoying. Especially found Marshall annoying and what's her name (have blocked her out) annoying. They were becoming caricatures of their characters, and the references back to earlier episodes was confusing since I couldn't remember what they were referring to. And the damn slapping of Barney and Marshall was extremely annoying.

I wonder whether watching the seasons and episodes in a more compressed time period makes it less annoying? Watching the characters over five or six (was it seven??) years just was too long for me. And yet I did.

laura k said...

I find them all annoying at various points. And I did find Barney becoming a carictures, but I thought (as I mention in this post) that the show rescued him from that by making him more complex.

I love the slap bet! And the puns that come with it. I wish the future-Ted narrator wouldn't give the backstory, it's more fun as just a running gag with no explanation. Neil Patrick Harris does some great physical comedy with those slaps.

I watch at least 2 episodes at a time. Since there are no commercials, the eps are very short. And I watch it almost every night. It definitely changes the effect.

If I really like a scene (in anything), I'll watch it several times through. Remember when they all jumped to the rooftop of another building? I found that really tender and poignant, so I watched it like 5 times.

Amy said...

I don't remember that scene nor did I remember the three day rule scene to which you linked in your post. But you know how my memory for such things can be. :) Sadly, what I remember best now are the parts I didn't like.

And I found the puns also very annoying! Groan producing and not funny.

I guess it just shows that what some find annoying others find funny. I think we've discovered before that our taste in television is quite different. I tend to like sitcoms with more likeable characters where the relationships are warmer, less cynical, and where the humor is kinder, if that makes sense. I don't usually enjoy shows that are dark (in humor or in subject matter). And I hate slapstick type of humor. I much prefer The Big Bang Theory or Doc Martin to Seinfeld (or HIMYM) when it comes to comedy. I guess I am a sap!

laura k said...

Our differing tastes is a well established fact. :)

As for your memory, I assume you watched the show in real-time, many years ago, one episode at a time, and were probably watching several other shows, too. I am watching HIMYM now, every night. And the only other thing I'm watching (besides baseball) is S7 of The Good Wife. So it's much easier for to me remember scenes!

impudent strumpet said...

This is me not saying a whole lot of things because I'm full of spoilers. :) But I did enjoy this show very much while it was in progress, so I'm glad it stands up.

I see the reasons behind the advice to avoid the last season, but I recommend not doing that because the mother is a character who is definitely worth meeting. (I hope it's not too much of a spoiler that the full run of How I Met Your Mother includes meeting the mother.)

laura k said...

Imp Strump, it was actually a post of yours that led me to try HIMYM! You posted about being ok with the finale (or something like that?) and I became curious about the show. I didn't read the post, because spoilers. Instead I tried the first few eps and really enjoyed them.

I am definitely watching the final season.

Last night I watched the end of S7 and the beginning of S8. The yellow umbrella was on the train platform in "Farhampton". And I'm still really enjoying the show.

laura k said...

With the start of S8, the quality has really dropped off IMO. Characters are caricatures (as Amy mentioned above) and everything is too wacky and zany -- a very common trend in dying sitcoms.

BUT to start to dislike a show in S8 out of 9 seasons, that'a a very long run. So still a very high quality show IMO.

And still watching.

Amy said...

I do believe that that's when I started truly not enjoying the show although some of the shtick started being annoying to me even before then.

I truly HATED the last season, so I am curious to see how you react to it. But I won't say more than that now.

impudent strumpet said...

Random factoid: since HIMYM ended, I haven't been able to find yellow umbrellas anywhere! I love bright-coloured umbrellas so I've been using yellow whenever they're available (about 50% of the time) since long before HIMYM started. But since the show ended, I haven't seen them for sale anywhere. (You can find them on the internet, but I used to see them regularly in places that I pass through in the natural course of real life.)

laura k said...

Imp Strump, is this causal, or coincidental?

So now I'm finding that there are still some really good eps in S8. The first 2 or 3 were awful, but the next few were very good, like the show found its voice again. Which tells me I can't skip anything.