So I’d been told by nerds and non-nerds alike that the show How I Met Your Mother is the second coming of television Christ. Ted, the main character, has sat his children down in 2030 to relay how their parents met back in 2010. Each episode is done like a flashback of Ted’s exciting New York life. I recently watched five seasons of this crap, and I wanted to get my thoughts written down before my memories jumble together in my squash.
I have multiple issues with HIMYM, and 90 percent of them stem from incredibly shitty writing. HIMYM SHOULD – by the merits of some of its cast – knock it out of the park with the funnies. It doesn’t at least half the time, and most of it is the fault of the guys who write terrible plots and even worse jokes for their half awesome, half craptastic cast.
Let’s start with the main issue I have with the show. HIMYM is about Ted. Ted is a douchebag. He is the least likable character that’s supposed to be likable I’ve ever seen. He’s pretentious, regularly does things that will fuck his friends over, treats his girlfriends like shit, and does dumb overly romantic gestures when he’s into a girl . . . and promptly gets bored with her after he woos her (in some cases the chicks get bored with him – those episodes I cheer the chick). Because he’s “supposed to be a nice guy”, he always realizes at some point during a plot that he’s BEING pretentious, douchey, treating his friends or his girlfriend like shit, and goes about making amends for his shallow, stupid decisions. Except . . . as a viewer? I’ll forgive a character for doing that stuff occasionally. Being an asshole is like breathing air for Ted, though, so now I simply go into every episode expecting him to fist everyone in the bum. I’m actually MORE surprised when Ted does the decent thing right off the bat than I am that he’s making yet another dick move.
If your show is about a character, you should proooobably not make him a douchenozzle and give him more than two likable traits. (Here’s the kicker about that character – Ted is apparently based on one of the writers of the show. Sooo. I guess I would spend my active association with said writer wanting to kick him in the dingding for being such a tool. NOT COOL, GUYS. NOT COOL.)
Anyway, problem number two I have with the show: Alyson Hannigan can’t act. Happy Alyson Hannigan looks an awful lot like unhappy Alyson Hannigan who looks almost the same as angry Alyson Hannigan. And every line is delivered exactly the same way. IF YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT WANTING TO HAVE A BABY WITH YOUR HUSBAND, YOU SHOULD NOT BE DELIVERING THE LINE THE SAME WAY AS THE “ONE TIME AT BAND CAMP I STUCK A FLUTE IN MY PUSSY” LINE FROM AMERICAN PIE. Sorry. Had to shout that so I make it clear. This girl plays the same character over and over, delivers lines the same way over and over, and is supposedly an actress. My basset hound has more emotional depth in her barks than this woman has. When I first encountered Willow on Buffy? I thought she was cute and likable. And when Alyson Hannigan played an equally endearing version of Willow in American pie? I thought “hey, they’re type casting her”. Now I’ve watched HIMYM and . . . I realize it’s not typecasting, this woman is stuck on the repeating rinse cycle from hell. I want to shake her to see if she makes those same doe-eyed confused expressions she makes on the show whenever anyone does anything ever.
Problem number three: if the show isn’t riotously funny (which it can be sometimes, don’t get me wrong, but those are episodes about one of two characters – Barney or Marshall) it’s stupid. Period. Ted spends one episode doing a rain dance on a roof because he wants Robin’s camping trip ruined. He loves her and doesn’t want her camping with another guy, and this is his solution. Yeah, a supposedly smart architect does a rain dance. And the worst part? It works.
Oh hey, nice segue into problem number four: Robin! It’s not so much the actress, but more the plots centered around her and her characterization. The boys still love her after five seasons, they’re slap fighting over her. She’s still emotionally distant and generally not worth the time and they’re (Ted & Barney) too dim to take note. I’m still confused why they want her anymore beyond “she’s hot”; the character is written as an ice queen. I think the writers mistook independent, professional woman with “obnoxiously self centered twat”. What’s sad about Robin is at the beginning of the series she’s actually likable and sympathetic, but her shtick is getting old. She’s not progressing as a character at all, and the subplot of “Ted will never get over Robin” has zero dimensions left to explore.
So that’s a whole lot of negative there. I should probably put a couple positive spins on things too, as I didn’t hate the show, was just terribly disappointed with it because it could have been awesome. For starters? Neil Patrick Harris as the womanizing Barney is awesome. Like amazingly awesome. He didn’t start out that way, but he gets there quick. The first few episodes NPH seems to still be hashing Barney out in his head, and the delivery of his lines comes across as forced and awkward, but somewhere around halfway through season one NPH gets comfortable. And then he gets funny. REALLY funny. Love him, love plots to do with him, will consistently laugh when there’s a story or scene involving Barney in any way.
I also love Jason Segel’s portrayal of Marshall, Ted’s faithful best friend and corporate sell-out lawyer from Minnesota. He’s the right combination of goofy and smart, and it’s a pity he was pegged against the one dimensional Alyson Hannigan, because the Lily/Marshall dynamic would probably be so much more interesting with someone who can actually act filling the part of Lily. I can’t think of much to say about Jason Segel beyond “he’s really good”, but that doesn’t surprise me. I’ve liked everything Segel’s been in, from Knocked Up to Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
So there’s my thoughts on the show. I’m sure some HIMYM fan out there will find me, light my house on fire, and tell me I have no taste for finding most of the show trite and dumb. To them I say “Hey, I’m glad you like it! But I’m gonna be over here watching a better sitcom. You might have heard of it. It’s called Community”.