Why ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is a One Man Show, and Not Much Else


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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  1. I have a co-worker who RAVES about this show and I don’t get it either! I love NPH, I think he’s an awesome actor and he’s got mega amounts of charisma but like you said – if he’s not in a scene the show is just brutal to watch….I tried my hardest too out of love for Doogie but I just couldn’t.

  2. Love the 4 episode rule. I’ve found myself doing this with a number of new shows over the last couple years, and even some old shows. Tried out the Sopranos=loved it after 4, CSI-Vegas season 9=time to move on, Lie to Me & FlashForward-still keeping my interest, HBO’s Bored to Death=not sure yet.

    It’s like a book, give it 2 hours, if you’re still bored, move on to something else. Unless it’s an assignment, then go online for plot details and summaries!

  3. I agree with you about the show, but why is Ted unlikable?
    I would say Barney is the unlikeable character here. Funny yes, but I don’t want a friend like that

  4. That’s not the point Lagrange. We’re not talking ‘likable’ as in ‘would I want him to be my friend’. We’re talking zany bastard with catchphrases. Ted is bleak, Jason Segal’s character is so annoyingly whiny it makes me puke.
    Right now I’m watching HIMYM just for Barney and Robin who is one of the hottest on TV these days (calm Down Olivia Wilde, your throne is safe)

  5. i will honestly say i own the first 3 seasons of this show. i think it is hilarious. i do, however, agree with you about Ted being annoying. he is pretty lame. however, i disagree that NPH is the best. maybe not so much this season, but in the past, Marshall (Jason Segal) has been a scene stealer and has dropped some of the best lines. season 2 was really great. i think of this show the same way as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Arrested Development. i just don’t get it when someone doesn’t like it. i have no problem with the premise of the show as i don’t care about who the mother is. i really don’t. i love the dynamic of the group and have grown to really like Robin and even Lily (a little). the jokes they make about Robin being from Canada are great.

    it’s ok, though. we can just agree to disagree.

  6. It’s funny that I should read this now, as I am in the midst of watching season 4 of HIMYM. There is no question that Barney is the true star of the show, but I will disagree in that fact that everyone else is extremely sub-par.

    First off, Marshall is hilarious. As awesome as Barney is, Marshall is on the other end of the spectrum as to why he’s funny. Jason Segel is one of my favorite actors right now because he has a unique sense of delivery and poise. Robin and Lily are also quite funny in their own fashion. While it is true that Ted is a bit lame, it’s also one of the reasons I like him. He’s a very relateable character. While everyone thinks they’re awesome like Barney, in reality, you’re probably more like Ted.

  7. I agree. Ted just isn’t likable for me. For one thing, the actor just doesn’t have the charisma or talent to be the focal point of a sitcom. Also, he’s just too bland and mainstream for me to like him.

    Now, if you want to see a great sitcom, then check out “The Big Bang Theory.”

  8. This entire post is the most laughable Google Alert I’ve ever received. Note to self: don’t send me anymore crap read, Google. And next time, cross-checking the name spelling woud be great, it’s Jason Segel, not Segal. And…

    “You have Jason Segal and fiancé Alison Hannigan who are like your friend and his girlfriend who are cool by themselves…”

    It is good to know that you think they all suck and can’t even get the name right, or at least know their characters’ names on the show. Plus, I love how you complain the show is pointless ’cause we still don’t know who the mother is four seasons in, and you are a LOSTIE!! HAH!

    a LOST fan who appreciates the irony!

  9. I absolutely agree. This show is pointless and lame, though I think it’s the women of this show that are the most bland.

    NPH is the ONLY redeeming thing about this show, and he definitely is not enough to carry it.

    Big Bang Theory is equally as bland.

    It’s so hard to find a good sitcom, so unfortunate. Thankfully we have “the Office”.

  10. The great thing about sitcomes is that they are no more driven towards men as they are women. My girlfriend is always busting my balls to sit and watch TV with her but all she watches is mindless love story movies and soaps.

    Thankfully “How I met your mother” has hit British shores and myself and the Girlfriend have managed to get hooked. We’ve just about reached the end of Season 1 and I’m really enjoying it.

    I’ll admit, there are some reall cringe worthy moments in there but I guess there has to be in order to get the girls watching.

    From my point of view we have a womaniser, loads of Arnie worthy one liners and bucket loads of really tasty looking girls.

    I’m afraid your problem Mr Tassi, is that you over analyze absolutely everything. If I’ve learned anything from reading the articles on this site is that “no-brainer” programmes arent for you.

    HIMYM, is a show to sit and eat your dinner to. Glancing occassionally whenever the jokes come. Not to sit down and study as though you’re watching a JJ Abrams series.

    In my opinion How I met your mother ticks all the boxes a mindless sitcom like Friends, 2 and a half men and King of Queens should. It’s got laughs, love and attractive cast.

    Stick to your overhyped “drama” series’ mate.

    And and Lost???…..*sniggers*

  11. Ah Paul. It makes me sad that you don’t share my love for this show. The sad thing about your 8 episode experiment (a good general rule to be sure) is that you may not have managed to get far enough into the meat of the series, and had the chance to see the creative ways that the writers take advantage of the opportunities to play around with the story structure that the “Flash Back” nature of the show allows them. They do some very interesting things with story structure on this show which I think is what helps elevate this show above standard sitcom fare. Also, sadly your abbreviated experience with the show has also not allowed for you to see the characters develop beyond the sort of “one note” characters that you take issue with in your review. I wish you would give the show more time to see the characters take flight and become more fully rounded people. (Even Barney)

  12. My suggestion is watch the whole first season… The show was on the edge of getting canceled both at the 13-episode mark and at the season finale..the second season is arguably the best.

    The reason for barney’s greatness is this..
    The show is modeled after it’s creators, Carter and Bays. One of them is Ted (don’t really remember who) and the other is Marsall.They all lived together and Robin is the girl Ted(the real one) eventually marries. Barney is supposed to be all of the other friend they had condensed into one character.

  13. Ok, I’m a fan of “How I met Your Mother” and “Friends” and I totally disagree with what your saying. First of all, yes, Neil Patrick Harris is a great actor and plays Barney soo well, but he’s not the only good thing about the show. I love Jason Segal, I thought “I Love You, Man” was amazing and I also love him as Marshell. Yeah, “How I met Your Mother” and “Friends” have a lot in come. Friends from college, a long awaited crush finally end up together and one character who can be a bit snobby and is always correcting people and a guy who’s a total lady’s man and the group of friends all hang out either in their apartments or have a ‘hang-out’ in New York. But tones of shows have hang-outs you could say “Hey, both of the people in “Friends and “Fraiser” hang out in coffee houses and the people in “Cheers” and “How I met Your Mother” hang out in bars but they’re not ripping each other off”. And the whole point of the show was that is was a love story in reverse and has the major question “Who is the mother?” It was kind of obvious so if your not into a storyline like that then just don’t watch it. You learn bit by bit and don’t get just chucked into a story. And honstely speaking I started watching the show in the second season, and I think the fourth and fifth are tided for the best. And if anything Friends is dead, I mean how many of the cast have done anything? I mean, yeah I think Cougar Town is ok and I liked Madagascar and 17 Again just fine but that show “Joey” wasn’t so good and I mean Jennifer Aniston really needs to get it all together. But Neil Patrick Harris was soo great in Harold in Kumar and I loved Buffy and Not Another Teen Movie. I don’t think Sitcome is dead, and if you do I feel sorry for you because there are alot of great shows out there. You can dwell in the “classics” or face the fact the “How I met Your Mother” just isn’t your cup of tea or give it another go because millions love it because they love to hear and read about “The Bro Code” or listen to ‘Robin Sparkles’ and ask the question to a fellow fan “Hey, Who do think the mother will be in How I met Your Mother?”

  14. I have watched the first six episodes of season one and I am really struggling to stick with this show (hence looking at websites like these). The premise is beyond ridiculous, but that really doesn’t matter to me because it’s really not important to the show whatsoever. As im told now, five years later, there has still been no progress to Bob Saget’s story. As to why bob saget is narrorating? That is a big WTF for me. It makes absolutely no sense. Ted is a man, he’s not going to grow up to become Bob Saget. Okay, im nitpicking, I know, so back to the point. The show comes off like a high school play, full of awkward lines and no chemistry between the cast members. They just dont seem like friends, but rather people putting on a play together.
    I also have to admit I was STUNNED to see people liked nph’s character of Barney? WHAT? he is completely one dimensional. “I like girls, but i don’t care about them, let’s go hump chicks” Come on! This is the same character that is in every comedy year after year. This nothing new or complex about him, just a stock one-dimensional character.
    As for what people said about Ted, I have to completely agree. I really try to pull for him but a times he does just come off as creepy. Are there guys out there who really act like this?
    I feel like I just bashed this show and that wasn’t my intent. I’m just trying to say my viewpoint after hearing so many good things about it. Maybe I was expecting too much, but I think I’m going to give it two more episodes (until the DVD is done) and if it is still lame, call it a day.
    There’s always great sitcomes like… like… ugh… crap

  15. You must have no taste, this show is one of the best shows I have ever seen. Along with the office it is one of the comedy shows which has love wrapped up in all the comedy and makes it a great watch. Ted is a very likeable character as are all of them, and although Barney is a great character he does not outshine the rest. The love story is a sweet premise and really brings together the hilarity in the show. It really makes you want to watch the rest of the show to find out what happens to the hopeless romantic in the end. I personally love How I Met Your Mother, it has heart, it makes me laugh histerically but think of finding the one all at the same time. The show only gets better as the seasons progress, you should keep watching the show and you will be hooked, I can’t wait for the next episodes to come out. This is definitely the among the top 3 television show on just now. In my opinion it is better than friends because life doesn’t work out like friends – it’s not non stop hilarity and stupid, random happenings, and life isn’t always great and this show captures this while still being hilarious.

  16. You could not be more wrong. Best show ever! No wonder you are still single, your views on this show are ridiculous, you probably find fault with everything. Loser.

  17. You are bogus my friend. Get a life, this show is the best thing to hit TV.
    Obviously you lack sense of humor and can not understand how real they act.
    Go die in a hole?

  18. things like this are subjective though. me personally, i never found it that much funny. to me they attempt a lot of witty scenes that could be hilarious but then to fails and becomes cliched. neil’s character i thought would save the show for me but since its probably same writers, the jokes are very bland. obviously this is all personal taste so you cannot say i have no sense of humor because everything is preference and i am no way saying this show sucks but it just doesn’t work for me personally. so like a normal human being, i don’t watch something that i have no interest at all with and move on.

  19. You’re pretty much reading my mind. My mates were going on about how good it was so I thought I’d try it – 18 episodes in and I can’t be bothered to finish the first season.
    It’s funny you mention Friends, because what HIMYM does is to recreate that “okay, so the jokes aren’t funny but there’s a NY feel-good vibe”. Even the most ardent Friends fanatic found the last couple of seasons akin to intellectual rape.

    Neil Patrick Harris is by far the best thing on the show, which is a shame because both Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan can be really funny but they just don’t get the lines. Cobie Smulders is window-dressing as far as I can tell, so finally we come to Ted. Have you met Ted?

    Ted, Ted, Ted. Ted – the one that everyone falls in love with. But why, seriously? He’s not stunning to look at, doesn’t have charisma and is a pretty shitty friend. Anyone outside a television set would have kicked his ass to the kerb years before.
    You can’t even pity him as an “unlucky in love” guy because he’s repeatedly responsible for his relationship failures. Yet we’re supposed to forgive him – like an incontinent pet. Well, if Ted were my dog, I’d take him to the vet and have him put to sleep.

    PS. I love the comments from Scotty and The Omen. “Get a life! You don’t have a sense of humour! Everything has to be MY way!”
    Fucking babies.

  20. Okay, you can talk smack about the show after you’ve watched two seasons. What? 8 or 9 episodes? There IS a reason why this sitcom is so popular -_- My friends were raving about this show so I started watching it, and it wasn’t so great for almost the whole first season but I kept watching it because I had nothing better to do. But near the end of the first season and beginning of the second season is where it actually started to get ridiculously good! Biased review, but I would have to agree, I dislike Ted.

  21. Dude, seriously, bashing the entire show on the first 8 – 9 episodes you watch , you are way too out of basic understanding of a Sitcom. The first season is only an introduction to the show, its the latter half of season 1 and the rest of season 2,3,4 and 5 is where the party actually begins. Even though i hardly care about the mother here, but there stories are way better than what FRIENDS ever have to offer except all those hilarious moments. There is a reason why people are so hooked to season 6 despite it being a little serious in between than previous seasons, and the show is still good enough to make it to season 7 and 8 and maybe even more. Try, thinking before bashing a show like this again.

  22. HIMYM is a cheap and pathetic ripoff of friends, I totally agree with Paul, if its anything, its a one man show (the one man being neil). I dont know if anybody has noticed this, every episode has the same elements like “correcting resume” or pointing out each others faults and so on.. exactly like friends had. all in all i hate this show.

    Check this out for more similarities.



  23. it is a very smart show. the females are all pretty, the plot is evolving in time and is not based on over projecting the neuroses of the cast members. Now, i understand that it does not involve various “groups” that are obviously essential for USA series to be considered good, but that’s life.
    (the last comment was sarcastic)

  24. I’s a good show, and many of us like it, but of course to be able to enjoy the show, you have to have a, you know, “sense of humor”. If you say you can only laugh on Barney’s jokes, thats fine, because his jokes are somewhat simpler than the others, but its really not the show’s fault that you’re lacking a bit on this place.

  25. Hey there,

    Your opinion mighth be right for you but for most of the people who watch this show disagree with you.

    The plot is very interesting and apealing,I mean all of us are so attached to what we did when we were just out of college ,as opposed to what we have become due to our responsibilities as parents and familiy people.

    If you are not able to relate then I beleave its unfortunate.

    By the way ,do you even like sticoms?

  26. Look even though you think that sit coms are dead I belive that How I Met Your Mother is great. the plot is quite interesting and NPH is hilarious. It is definetly not a one man show because it has all the elements to make it the show it is.

  27. Jason Segel’s CONSTANT MOUTH BREATHING makes me want to see him water boarded with gallons of nasal spray. Hey, Alyson Hannigan that flute fell out of your snatch 10 years ago and took your career with it.

  28. I can appcriate a story even if I know the ending, and that is why I love how I met your mother. along with other reasons…
    1. How I met your mother got me through tough times, when I’ve had a bad day I go home and watch it brightens my day in a jiffy!
    2. I over use the words awesome and legendary now thanks to barney! 3. Having friends like that would be epic!
    4 I love lily and marshall because they give hope that couples do last a very long time, even if they are just from a sitcom.
    5. Lawyered is the best running joke. ever.
    6. Whenever anyone is drunk its hilarious especially Ted!
    7. The “Havvveee you met Ted game?” game is awesome Its actually how I met my boyfriend.
    8. There is actually really serious problems in the show, barney with abandoment issues, ted with work and finding his soulmate, Marshall and becoming an environmental, robin and her career, and many other in depth problems. that people can relate to.
    9. Robin Sparkles.
    10. All of barney’s characters just to sleep with a girl.
    11. barney’s suit obession.
    12. How I Met Your Mother is the show I watch when I’m home alone, when I’ve got friends over, when I’m suppose to be working, when I’ve got free time, when I’m crying my eyes out, and when I’m ridiculously hyper. I hope it never ends!!! 😀

    i must admit the first season was a flop but u just have to get through it and damn is the second season the best!!
    even though i have reached season 7 season 2 is still the best….
    and dude EIGHT EPISODES!! hell no!! next time you wanna say crap about a show go further than that and u shall see y it is an AWESOME show!
    the one thing i love about the show is that it has its own jokes and they use those jokes all through the series even now in season 7 eg.
    1. the slap bet
    2. robin sparkles
    3. barneys suit obsession
    4. lawyered
    5. wad up jokes
    6. Robin being form canada
    and so many others and after you watch all the seasons you feel like you know the characters so well cause nothing changes about them =)

  30. HIMYM said it best when they were sitting down in the coffee shop waiting on their coffee:

    Ted: “So, guess that decides it.”
    Marshall: “Yep..”
    Barney: “Hanging out in a coffee place.. Not nearly as much fun as hanging out at a bar.”

    Best sitcom in a while! The chemistry between the characters only gets better as the show progresses.

  31. Lmao sorry but did you just saw that ” the office” was better.

    The office is one of the worst shows brought to tv. It’s nothing but vague awkward humour which isn’t the least bit funny.

    Some people..

  32. @Blueberry yes the Office is better. It’s supposed to be a mockumentary with believable people inside an office working together. I’m sorry about the Office’s Emmy win for outstanding comedy, and also the lack of a laugh track

  33. I totally agree with this review.I mean I really do like NPH,but that’s the only good thing about this show.Shows like friends or seinfeld have some really memorable moments like when they are all together.HIMYM is good at parts but is just becoming really lame lately.Forget 8 episodes,I sat and watched all of them just because I didnt have anything else to watch then and I tell you it is a one man show.The other characters are plain annoying.Maybe to an extent it may be realistic you might say but still I just cant get myself to like this show.And the premise is just terrible

  34. As a fan of How I Met Your Mother, I do agree with you that it isn’t as funny as shows like 30 Rock. But thats not why I like it. Nor is the premise of “how i met your mother”. It’s about the characters progressing while still being light and fun. It’s the perfect mix of drama but still with a little humor to keep it interesting. It’s a perfect show to watch when your up past midnight.

  35. WTF how could someone even begin to compare this trash with arrested development or its always sunny.
    If arrested development and its always sunny raped transvestite hooker (implied to be dead of course) and threw it in the garbage, that would be how i met your mother.

  36. any of you that actually think this show is good, are completely drones, and have no knowledge of plot development. Anyone that says this show is good due to how it makes them feel, is retarded. a critical analysis of the plot and character development shows that it is terrible and driven completely by NPH. Try using your brain before you speak.

  37. I’ve watched some of these on Netflix. What Harris says is funny. The camaraderie between the friends is cool. But that’s all. Most of the other jokes seem like they’ve been salvaged from a Comedy Ship that sunk ages ago for a good reason. There’s a softness to the jokes; everything seems to turn out okay and affirms their dumbass group. I feel like there’s too much “awww” factor in the absence of clever writing. I found myself not laughing.

  38. I feel as though I have well-rounded tastes when it comes to comedy. I can watch comedies from The Middle to It’s Always Sunny; from Cougar Town to The Office; from 30 Rock to Modern Family; from The B in Apt whatever to Happy Endings. Each one has it’s own brand of comedic value and I get laughs out of each, some more than others. I must say that I get the most value for my comedic time from It’s Always Sunny and 30 Rock. I understand that everyone has different tastes.

    However, I, for the life of me, can not understand what anyone sees in How I Met Your Mother. I heard people rave about it-like the poster above who stated “You Clearly Don’t Understand Comedy…”-and forced myself to sit through about 6 episodes so far.

    Not a single laugh. Not one. I was so stumped at what I could be missing. I love to laugh too, and I am frustrated that I am missing something that others are enjoying. I thought it was me.

    So, today there were several episodes on back to back. I decided that I was going to plop down on the couch (since it is raining) and work at finding the humor. I failed again. 3 episodes later and I still did not hear a single joke that made me laugh out loud. Even 2 and 1/2 Men (before Krutcher) and The Big Bang Theory are good for at least a couple of guffaws.

    Still confused about what I am missing, I came on line to see if others were baffled by the mysterious success of this overwhelmingly unfunny sitcom and found these comments.

    Thank you; at least now I know that it isn’t just me.

  39. This show is complete garbage. Always Sunny, Arrested Development, The Office, Parks and Rec. None of the aforementioned shows have a laugh track. These are real comedy shows for people with intellect… Not dumbed down homogenized crap like HIMYM or the Big Bang Theory…

  40. There are eight seasons of this show you can’t base it off of the first half season. It’s geniusly written and you have to dig for most of the jokes. And everyone who thinks Barney is the funniest is simple minded. More than anything the show really teaches you a lot about friends and relationships. Also lily is annoying.

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