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HIMYM – Can Bays and Thomas get the old magic back? – Quibbling Siblings

Every week brother and sister team Bob and Debbie take on a new topic. This week, we discuss CBS's 'How I Met Your Mother' and how it has fallen from grace in recent seasons, but more importantly, how the writers can make it good again.


Here we are, deep into season seven of How I Met Your Mother. I pretty much stopped liking it back in season four (I think the turning point may have been the horrible “The Best Burger in New York”), with a few exceptions — why am I still around? I want to say it’s for Barney, but lately he’s either castrated or over-the-top. It sure isn’t for Marshall and Lily, who I never liked. It’s not for the depressing storylines of Marshall’s father’s death or Robin’s infertility, that’s for sure.

But that’s not really what I want this post to be about, because people have been complaining about HIMYM for seasons, that’s nothing new. What I want to know is how Bays and Thomas can get the old magic back. Because, really, that’s why I’m still around. I remember it, I loved it and I keep hoping that if I watch every week, it will be back.


I think my advice to them would be to stop trying to be clever and spend more time being funny. I feel like they have been trying a lot over these past couple of years to transcend the sitcom genre and go for emotional impact. Some shows have been able to do that really well. I think Scrubs is a good example. It was a very funny show and every now and then it could really pull the rug out from under you and punch you in the gut.

I don’t think HIMYM has been able to do it as well, and I’m not sure why they are trying. Specifically, I felt that the episode this year about Robin’s infertility was emotionally manipulative and not very well done. It’s a dangerous game to play.

Aside from that, they’re always setting up the next mystery or the next obscure reference. I’ve watched every episode of this show, and I had absolutely zero recollection about the “slutty pumpkin” before Katie Holmes showed up. I didn’t remember any mention. You just can’t expect tiny mentions to be remembered enough to have the payoff worth it.

Just. Be. Funny!


Scrubs is an interesting comparison to make. That show was goofy as the day is long, but then it could turn around and make you weep … HIMYM‘s never done that to me. Do I just not care as much about the characters?

One bone I have to pick with the direction HIMYM has taken is that they used to know exactly how long to milk a joke to get the most out of it, but not to overstay its welcome. One of many perfect examples of this is from “Arrivederci, Fiero,” one of my all-time favorite episodes. They did not play “(I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles” too many times. It was spot-on and hilarious every time, and when they played it that last time, they did it with style. Now? Not so much. The horse is dead, Jim — stop beating it. Or, is it just that the jokes aren’t as funny, so we don’t want them to come back again and again? Case in point: “Son of a beetch!” Though I do have to give an honorable mention to this season’s ducky tie — they nailed it.

Here’s my list of advice to Bays and Thomas:

– Slap Bet = funny

– Naked Man = funny

– submarine sandwich = not funny, and no longer even clever

– Stop trying to be deep. No one wants death, infertility or immense character growth from Barney (we want “The Bracket”). Those things aren’t funny. It’s a sitcom.

– The obscure references can be funny, but keep them within the same season, or thereabouts (like the goat). “Slutty Pumpkin” was from season one, Bob — it wasn’t you.

– Make a game plan for the overarching mystery of the mother. Work out the kinks, and the continuity and just stick with it. We don’t want a yellow umbrella to suddenly mean nothing, and we aren’t forgetting that she was Rachel Bilson‘s roommate and that she took Ted’s class. Make it fit with the wedding please.

– Stop trying to be what you think you should be and just be what you are.

– Continue with the non-linear storytelling because that’s one of the things that made us fall for you in the first place … just don’t have the storylines be stupid.

Did I forget anything? Can our advice possibly keep HIMYM from sucking?


I think you covered just about all of it in that list. I would add something about keeping the characters off drugs because the episode this season with Marshall and Ted high at the concert was the most cliched, uncreative series of pot gags that I have ever witnessed on television. I seriously considered not ever tuning in again after that atrocity. That could have just been me, though.


Not you … see number three on my list. …

What do you think, readers? How can Bays and Thomas get the old magic back?

Photo Credit: CBS

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15 Responses to “HIMYM – Can Bays and Thomas get the old magic back? – Quibbling Siblings”

January 26, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Well, I hate the Slap Bet and I was appalled that slaps got added this year. I haven’t minded the more serious episodes and the growth of Barney. The show isn’t as funny as before, but I still care about the characters. As long as they don’t pull another Zoe out of the hat (a terrible character and storyline) I’m still happy with the show.

January 26, 2012 at 12:14 PM


The little hints, nods and references have been a big part of this show from very early on. In my opinion, they’re one of the “smartest” things about the show. Because if you didn’t know anything about the Slutty Pumpkin going into this season’s Halloween episode, it didn’t disrupt your appreciation (or lack thereof) whatsoever. But for those of us who get the callback, it was a great fun.

I don’t really think that Barney’s character growth has actually changed his “funny.” Not in the least, honestly. And I loved the story arc with Marshall’s father. The bit about Robin’s infertility, though, I’m totally on board with you, and I hit the show pretty hard with it. I don’t really remember what I had to say about the concert episode, but with a little bit of time, I don’t remember it fondly.

Oddly, I’ve also calmed down some on the whole “Who is the mother” bit. As long as they are not implying that we’re going to get “major movement” in the story, and then nothing happens, I’m good. I don’t need the mother to be the story, as long as it is not the story.

January 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM

I personally love that they’re exploring deeper sides to the characters. Most of what brought me to HIMYM was the fact that they didn’t just go for the funny. They can be slightly less funny and have slightly more heart than other sitcoms and I’m totally fine with that. The things you guys say make the show not as good as it used to be are what makes me keep coming back to it.

January 26, 2012 at 2:47 PM

I think this article is ridiculous. Season 7 has been one of the best seasons so far. Seasons 4 and 5 were also absolutely hilarious. I don’t know how you could watch this show and be invested in the characters and not love what the writers have done. It just keeps getting better and better over time.

January 26, 2012 at 3:38 PM

I disagree. I think that it’s extremely important to have growth in characters. One of my favorite episodes was with Marshal’s dad dying. I thought that it was fantastic theatre, but then again that’s just my opinion.
Also, I think fans are responding well. Ratings have never been higher. Obviously that doesn’t mean that it’s good (ex. Two and a half men)
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see the horrible decline.

January 26, 2012 at 4:00 PM

You compared this to scrubs? My advice to you is stop writing reviews. This was terrible. I like both shows but you cannot compare them. They are COMPLETELY different breeds. Another thing, if you stopped liking the show from season 4, no wonder you don’t appreciate the emotional impact. You have to care for something to have emotion towards it. For those who actually enjoy the show, the emotions the show has evoked have enhanced the characters. The story lines have gotten more mature, and the jokes have steered more toward clever instead of “goofy” because that’s the type of audience that watches. You should stop watching the show if you can’t appreciate it.

January 26, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Also, HIMYM won best COMEDY tv show by the PEOPLE’S Choice Awards this year. Clearly it’s still funny to millions of people- you know, the kind of people who have a sense of humor.

January 26, 2012 at 5:14 PM

The fact of the matter is, especially in this day in age, as a sitcom progresses, there has to be some kind of growth in characters or the show gets boring, and there’s no more material. A sitcom with nothing but funny feels fake to watch. I like when they bring serious real life situations in. Teaches us to find the humor from the drama in our own lives. By the way, I want immense character growth from Barney. Catchphrases, hitting on and taking advantage of women. He is trying to cover his feelings for Robin, again. But it’ll all come to an end. It has to. And Marshall’s dad dying is a part of real life too. I hate when reviewers call that moment out as ruining a sitcom or whatever. It tells us that people can get through it and still laugh about things even after a loved one is gone. Geez people. Learn to look for the good things in shows. Not pick out the drama from a sitcom and make it the reason for ruining the magic of the show. I like it, and I’m one of millions that do.

January 26, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Why do I feel compelled to clarify a couple of things? First of all, I said I don’t want Barney’s character to grow (let the others have a field day), specifically in the way he has been, because it’s just not funny. If you read anything I ever write, it’s usually all about character growth, which I look for and champion in a television show. But here’s the thing — it’s sitcom so it still has to be funny. The way I see it, they can keep Barney stagnant as a character foil as the others grow, or they can make Barney grow, but it needs to be funny. Neither of these things are happening.

Take House — I cannot say enough about the writing on that show, because he’s been able to change and grow yet still remain an entertaining ass. And the entertainment isn’t in spite of his character growth, it’s because of it. This is not what is happening on HIMYM.

One other thing needs to be said — HIMYM is not a show I’m fanatical about. Clearly some of you are, and that’s OK (House, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries … talk to me!). I’m still allowed to watch it and have an opinion about it. I can even write about it, because I have this here blog at my disposal. We can disagree and you can still enjoy the show. The world is cool that way.

January 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM

Clarify all you want, you are entitled to your opinion. But when you titled this “Can Bays and Thomas get the old magic back?” AND you admitted that you aren’t the most avid viewer of the show,you seem ignorant. You are trying to fix something you don’t care for, but everyone else loves.

You said you don’t want barney to grow. Barney is still a sex crazy, suit-wearing, ego-maniac like he was when the show first aired. The only way in which he has grown is that he has changed his view regarding relationships. If you want him to keep being a womanizer I guess that’s your own opinion. But I like that he has grown up, much like people in the real world do.

January 26, 2012 at 10:10 PM

I feel season 7 has been pretty amazing so far except for a couple of points (Kevin has pretty much no business being in the show and thank god they got rid of Nora), the boat song had me laughing harder than I had in a long time, and last week’s episode with the hunt for the fuse box and that moment when Marshall bumps the pingpong table was priceless old school HIMYM. I think they are hitting their stride again after the less than stellar season 6 (although I will always associate “I will remember you” with HIMYM from now on… ).

January 27, 2012 at 12:32 AM

I’m one of those that stopped tuning in years ago, but I remember the slutty pumpkin, the yellow umbrella, and all the other little hints. I think it worked better when the mother was a mystery to be teased rather than a string of recognizable actresses that turned out to be ringers again and again. In the beginning, I liked all of the characters (even Ted), but slowly grew to despise them as people as their sitcom hijinks piled up season after season.

I feel that, like Smallville, Alias, and Chuck, HIMYM could have been a very strong, very tight two to three-season show, but went on far too long for me to keep watching.

I didn’t see the concert this season, but the characters getting baked off of a found joint at their future reunion has always been a comedic highlight. I suppose if it had gone on longer than the tag it wouldn’t have been as special.

January 27, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Debbie, I see your point, and like you said, it is an opinion. In my opinion, Barney is still in the learning stage of how to be mature in relationships, which is why he and Robin didn’t work out initially. He’s getting big slaps in the face, literally, because he does not know how to restrain himself from saying inappropriate things or sleeping with all the women he meets. Once they reveal Barney’s bride at the end of the season, I think it’ll start lightening up and the process of Barney proposing will be hilarious!

And remember why Barney is the way he is in the first place. He started out as a loving guy who was serious about relationships. Remember Shannon and the peace corps idea from season 1? He was depressed after that and suited up shortly after. I think he is going to become that guy again.

As for the mother hints, the biggest one by far was given in Season 5, when Ted became a college professor. So watch that if you haven’t.

I completely agree about Kevin. He needs to leave.

The show has higher ratings now for a reason.

January 27, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Such an ignorant and one-eyed review.

February 13, 2012 at 9:10 PM

I have watched the show from the first season on and every season after season three it hasn’t gotten worse. I think we could have done without the Ted and Robin dating episodes because you knew after watching episode 1 all the through that she was aunt Robin and wasn’t the mother. And the character building and the little hints haven’t help the show the last couple of seasons. It has really painted the show in a corner that I don’t think writers going to at first but with each contract extension they had to come up with new episodes which I don’t think worked with overall plan. Just my opinion.