Oct 16 2009
It’s clear to most people that the era of the sitcom has been dead for a while now. Some say it ended with Seinfeld. Some with Friends. Some with Frasier. But there’s always one vocal contingent, who’s always yelling “But wait, How I Met Your Mother is awesome!”
I’ve been listening to this cry for a long time now, and though I’d only caught a few snippets of the show here and there, I didn’t know much about it, but hey, Jason Segel, Alison Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris? I’ve heard of worse casts. So I decided to see what all the fuss was about and check out season one.
My general rule for a show is, if it can’t get me hooked in four episodes, it’s not worth watching. I’ve done this with Grey’s Anatomy to realize it was just horrendous, and I’ve done this with Lost, where the first four episodes made me a fanatical believer for life.
Well, since How I Met Your Mother is only a half hour, I figured I’d give it the benefit of the doubt, and go for eight episodes. But by the end of the last few, I was dying, gasping for anyone to tell me just what they find so appealing about this show. I now quite literally cannot go on, as I sit stone-faced through 90% of the episodes, laughing only whenever Neil Patrick Harris says anything.
I just don’t know what people see in this show. When compared to the sea of just absolutely horrendous sitcoms that still miraculously populate the air (Till Death anyone?) it’s pretty decent, but compared to an actual good comedy show like The Office, 30 Rock or Curb? It’s just so far behind it’s almost painful.
So what’s wrong with it? First, the concept, which is stupid. A guy is telling his kids the world’s longest story about how he met their mother. It’s an annoying framing device that adds NOTHING to the story (after you figure out four seasons in, the mother is still as far away as ever), and only serves to provide the show with two minutes of awkward bookends, and when a show is only 20 minutes long to begin with, you’re not trimming fat, you’re cutting away at what SHOULD be meat.
And what is the “meat” of the show? There are five main characters, the lead being Ted, a lovelorn 27 year-old on a mission to find his true love, You have Jason Segel and fiancé Alison Hannigan who are like your friend and his girlfriend who are cool by themselves, but an absolute pain in the ass together. There’s another extraneous girl named Robin, who Ted falls for initially, but then becomes “just a friend” and part of the gang, but mysteriously grows up to be AUNT Robin. Hmm. And then you have Barney, Ted’s womanizing best friend played by Neil Patrick Harris, who is in fact, the only person ever worth watching on the show.
I have never watched anything on television where one character is so far above and beyond the rest of the cast in every way before. You get glimpses of that with Ari on Entourage, but NPH’s Barney is in a league of his own. Everything he says or does is pure gold, but unfortunately, someone decided to NOT make this show about him, instead focusing on sad sack Ted, the world’s most unlikeable main character. The other supporting cast members add nothing to the show, and you’re constantly waiting around until Barney gets his next line.
Neil Patrick Harris deserves much better than this. He has talent burst from every pore, yet he’s stuck in this dreary sitcom only because it’s become something of a “hit” among people who still need a laugh track to remind them when to laugh, and now he’s stuck here until the show dies, which knowing CBS, will be NEVER.
The show just is not that funny. The non-Barney jokes are all rehashed, and Ted’s mission to find “the one” should be incredibly relatable to someone like myself who finds all their close friends getting engaged and married, but he comes off as just plain creepy sometimes, and I find myself hoping that I don’t look like that in my dating endeavors.
The sitcom is dead, and How I Met Your Mother is nothing but a ghost of what used to be. Its brief moments of hilarity are overshadowed by a raging sea of lameness, and as tolerant of a TV watcher as I am, I can’t bring myself to make it to episode nine.
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