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.

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