I think you all know how I feel about Neil Patrick Harris, and God knows I could write an indecent amount about why he and Barney Stinson are reason enough to watch How I Met Your Mother. But there are SO MANY OTHER REASONS. Here are the five I picked.
1. Attention to detail— The Office has a well-deserved reputation for rewarding multiple viewings with a commitment to background moments and continuity, but I have never in my life seen a show that does continuity, recurring jokes, and details quite as well as How I Met Your Mother. Each individual episode’s structure is so well-crafted most of the time, that when you go back and see an episode a second time, the set-up suddenly takes on a completely new meaning when you understand what the pay-off will be. Then there’s the use of recurring jokes throughout the entire series. Hell, the episode “Spoiler Alert” is partially about all the recurring elements/jokes/characteristics and the way that they can actually start to wear on you after a while. My favorite shout-out on that is definitely Marshall’s singing… that goes back to one of my favorite Marshall moments ever.
But the thing that sets the series apart in terms of its attention to detail is the amount of work that goes into the websites on this show. There was tedmosbyisajerk.com (listen to the audio track), barneysvideoresume.com, mysteriousdrx.com, Robin Sparkles’ Myspace, Marshall and Lily’s wedding pictures, the slapbet countdown page, etc. Believe it or not, I missed some stuff. But you get the idea.
2. Robin Scherbatsky—I’m on record about my love for Robin. She is the source of much hilarity. She’s completely incapable of softening herself to protect the feelings of others, she is hilariously unsentimental, which always helped her straight-faced delivery of the ridiculous local news headlines really land as a joke, and she is the reason for the show’s awesome pantheon of Canadian jokes (“Your police are called Mounties!”). She’s really not like any other female character on television. Plus, Robin Sparkles. I mean, really, ROBIN SPARKLES. The hilarity of the complete disconnect between the no nonsense cigar-smoking Robin and the 16- year old Robin, giggling about going to the mall, is one of the most brilliant concepts in the show. Also, I have a massive girl-crush on Cobie Smulders.
3. The friendships feel real—The show is technically called “How I Met Your Mother,” but as FutureTed said at the beginning of the third season, “there’s a bigger story, the story of how I became who I had to become before I could meet her.” So what the show is really about is the friendships between the five main characters, and they are all very believable. Each individual character has a well-developed sense of identity, so you never feel like you could exchange one character for another without completely changing the story. The seemingly unconventional pairings are the best—Barney and Lily are a wonderful odd couple, and the recent emphasis on Marshall and Robin has been a lovely change.
And Ted’s deep friendship with each of these characters is touching. You always sense the history there, especially in Ted’s friendship with Lily and Marshall. When Ted goes down a bad road of doucheyness in the third season, Marshall is the one to pull him back, because even though Ted and Marshall are silly and weird together, Marshall knows Ted very well, and cares a lot about him, and Ted respects Marshall’s opinion a lot. On the other hand, when Marshall and Lily get into a financial spot because of their new apartment, Ted makes Marshall a pretty sizable loan. The friendships feel real, and that’s why even when the gets incredibly silly, it remains a show full of heart.
4. CollegeTed—Poor Josh Radnor always gets the shaft when it comes to appreciation of the cast. Neil Patrick Harris had a kick-ass year last year, and Jason Segal wrote and starred in an incredibly successful comedy, Cobie Smulders always gets kudos for the brilliant Robin Sparkles, and Alyson Hannigan has a built in fan base. But you know what? The dude brings it. He is an incredibly gifted straight-man, but he also gets to show off his own skills in the over-the-top department, and no where does he do it more consistently and more hilariously than: CollegeTed. CollegeTed is an enormous, pretentious douchebag. Seriously. His pick-up line freshman year? “It’s like Descartes says, ‘In order to determine whether we can know anything with certainty, we first have to doubt everything we know.’ You know?” The highlight of CollegeTed flashbacks, for me, is one of my favorite episodes of all time—Arriverchi Fiero, when we are first introduced to CollegeTed, as he explains to an exasperated CollegeMarshall “My PARENTS live in Ohio, I live in the moment.” And, of course, Ted never really loses all of his pretentiousness—that’s why he pronounces it encyla-PAY-dia and over corrects everyone. Anytime there’s a flashback to CollegeTed, I get excited, because CollegeTed has never disappointed in the hilarity department.
5. The show expands your vocabulary—this show is remarkably quotable, especially because these friends have what I think most close-knit groups of friends have: their own language. There’s the hot-crazy scale, the lemon law, suit up, legen- wait for it—DARY, lawyered, revertigo, woo-girls, crazy eyes, “a sandwich,” and, well, I could go on. Just about every episode has something.
My excessive use of the word awesome can be directly linked to my excessive consumption of this show. Lately, I have taken to excessive use of the Barney’s intonation of “what up?” It’s a problem. But it’s an awesome problem.
So there you go, five (non-NPH) reasons you should be watching How I Met Your Mother. Honestly, I’m not sure when it happened, but this is not only my favorite sitcom on television right now, it’s pretty much become my favorite show.