Seven reasons I watch HIMYM for more than the mother mystery
Many people watch ‘How I Met Your Mother’ to actually, you know, MEET the mother. But I think there’s a lot more to the show than waiting for that particular train to come in.
I know it is hard to believe, but there’s more to How I Met Your Mother than the reveal of the titular mother. Ted’s story to his children has framed HIMYM for going on eight years now, and for many fans meeting the mother is the main reason they watch the show. While I’ve gotten irritated with showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas in the past, it’s primarily been because of how they personally hinted that a particular season or episode would further the story along, only for nothing to happen.
In the eighth season premier “Farhampton,” fans get another glimpse of Ted’s future wife, but a familiar yellow umbrella obstructed her face. I doubt that was enough for fans who desperately want to meet the mother, but I was content with the way the episode ended. To me, there are seven reasons that I watch the show that don’t involve the mother of Ted’s children:
1 – Barney Stinson. Neil Patrick Harris has created one of my favorite sitcom characters of all time. What started off as a one-note – albeit a hilarious one – has become a much deeper character than I think most fans expected. His on-again/off-again relationship with Robin has precipitated much of this change, but his growth as a character has been about more than his “relationship status.” Barney has obviously always been a guy with significant daddy-issues, and his story arc of meeting his father has been an important part of his growth. Most impressively, the writers have been able establish this arc without changing Barney from the totally awesome barnacle we’ve known – and loved – from his first, “Haaaaaavveee you met Ted?”
2 – Continuity. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a show that rewards its long-time fans the way HIMYM does. Sometimes it is something simple, like bringing back fan-favorite Victoria (Ashley Williams) for an extended arc. Or – though I doubt the hair and makeup staff would call this simple – it is the dogged historical accuracy of Lily’s hairstyle during the myriad flashbacks the show employs. Mostly, though, it is how the show will seed a storyline and come back to it several episodes – or seasons – down the road. On any given day, Marshall can turn around and slap Barney silly, a new Robin Sparkles single could drop, a yellow umbrella or pair of red boots could be sighted, or Ted and Marshall could be munching on a sandwich and fans would just “get” what’s going on.
3 – Non-Linear storytelling. How I Met Your Mother has long mastered the art of non-linear storytelling. While Lost may have soured audiences on flashbacks and flashforwards, I’ve always been a big fan of the art of telling a story out-of-order only to have it make sense in the end. Last season’s “The Burning Beekeeper” was a great example of this approach, even if I found the episode less enjoyable – particularly in the humor arena – in subsequent viewings.
4 – Ted’s luck with the ladies. As much as Ted can’t seem to keep a girlfriend, he’s had incredible luck finding them in the first place. If you don’t believe me, just check out an image created by reddit user Bennold. Boy’s got more skill than Barney gives him credit for.
5 – Use of other media channels. HIMYM is not afraid to branch out past the 22 minutes of episode each week to craft its story. Sure, some of these items are profit driven – like the “Barney Stinson” authored books The Playbook, The Bro Code and others — but there’s also Barney’s Blog hosted at CBS.com (sadly no longer updated) and myriad other websites and videos the production team has put together.
6 – Cobie Smulders. If there is anything I’ll take away from this show when Future Ted finally finishes his story, it will be a big fandom for Smulders. I’m not always the biggest fan of where the writers take the character but I really like what she brings to the role. The show features five actors with very different comedic approaches, but manages to mesh them together in a hilarious way. Smulders particularly shines in this regard.
7 – Classic Schomsby. Savvy readers will note that there’s very little – if any – mention of Marshall and Lily on this list. Long-time readers know the reason, but for you new folks out there: I love Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan, but can’t say the same for how the couple has been written for the past several years.
What do you think? Are you one of those hard-core fans who feels like they’ve been burned time and time again by Future Ted’s meandering storytelling, or are you like me, just appreciating the ride?