Pop-Ed: Our Legend…Wait It For…Dary Thoughts on HIMYM

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Luke Kalamar – When How I Met Your Mother first premiered in 2005, I was a lowly sophomore in high school. I heard very little about the program and never really paid attention to CBS on my channel guide. It wouldn’t be until my second year of college in 2009 that I actually heard about how great the show was, but never actually made any effort to watch it. It wouldn’t be until the summer after my college graduation in 2012 that I firmly sat down with the full intent of watching seven seasons worth of material. Not only did I want to finally see what the hubbub was about, my girlfriend was a huge fan and I take all of her opinions about literally anything very seriously. If she says a show is amazing and I need to watch it…then maybe I should sit my ass down and watch it.

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What followed was a seemingly fast blur of time. I honestly can’t tell you how long it took me to watch 160 episodes of this sitcom. A week? Two weeks? All I know is I had a lot of free time and honestly loved every second. HIMYM is easily one of the most heartfelt and endearing shows I have ever seen. The thing that kept me hooked on HIMYM, other than it’s amazing characters and guest stars, was its structure: the entire series is being narrated by future Ted Mosby (voiced by Bob Saget) to his children. This meant that the seemingly normal program can be changed on the whim of the narrator, and we see those changes first hand. If Future Ted says that he and Marshall got really high on “sandwiches” in college, we see them eating giant sandwiches. If a character’s name isn’t remembered, they’re simply referenced as Blah Blah by everyone. And if Future Ted says a porn tape magically flew into his VCR, then dammit a porn tape flew around the room into his VCR. It gave this everyday show such a surreal feel, which it naturally needed since it’s now become a story being told over 9 years.

Of course HIMYM wasn’t perfect. Like any normal show, age started wearing it down. People were getting tired of the premise by Season 8 and even earlier, only to groan in agony when a 9th season was announced. Yet somehow this final season has been nothing but amazing and it’s giving this series the send off it absolutely deserves. Instead of reaching the finish line a limping mess, it’s going full through full steam ahead. Regardless of how the show ultimately ends (I swear The Mother better not be dying) I will be happy that I had a chance to enjoy this journey, no matter how brief it was for me.

Lauren Stern – I can remember exactly where and when I first saw How I Met Your Mother. It was eight years ago, I was at my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving, and we had just finished eating dinner. Usually this was the time when my cousins and I hung out, talked, and watched television. For many years, it was my cousin catching me up on episodes of Alias, but after it ended in 2006, there was really nothing we could watch but Friends episodes we’ve already seen dozens of times.

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Not long after our mere Friends suggestion, my cousin asked my brother and I if we’ve seen How I Met Your Mother yet. The show was in its second season at the time, barely gaining traction, but we weren’t skeptical. My cousin is great at discovering good television shows, so we knew once she turned on an episode, we’d love it.

She turned on “The Pineapple Incident,” the tenth episode in Season 1. I remember all three of us hysterically laughing throughout the entire episode and quoting it after. Needless to say, we were hooked.

After that episode, my brother and I continued to watch the show and referred it to everyone we knew. How I Met Your Mother became a show that we’d watch together as a family, a spot that not many sitcoms held before.

Obviously, “The Pineapple Incident,” will always hold my favorite episode spot, but tied with it is “Girls Versus Suits.” This was How I Met Your Mother’s 100th episode, and by far one of their best. The gang’s “Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit” song is what put this show over the top for me. It was one of the episodes that in my mind became legen – wait for it – dary.

As much as I agree that How I Met Your Mother has taken it’s course, I’m really sad this show will end. What will keep me going is syndication and the hope that it becomes as classic as Friends, Seinfeld, The Nanny, and many other sitcoms. Just do us a favor, How I Met Your Mother writers, spare us with any spin-offs. PLEASE. We all saw what happened with Joey.

Logan J. Fowler – I was told about How I Met Your Mother by two of my friends a couple of years ago. They explained to me that the character of Ted was exactly like me; a hopeless romantic, just looking for the right girl. While Ted seemed a lot like yours truly early on in the show’s run, his arc as of late doesn’t really mirror me.

Anyway, my girlfriend promoted the show to me highly this past summer, so I dived in. And it was ride for sure. I laughed, I got emotional, and I grew connected to all the characters, all of who had quirky behaviors that I loved. The show wasn’t without bumps though; Ted and Robin’s on and off again romance was a huge knock against the show’s title. Barney became the focus when really it should’ve been Ted. Finally, this WHOLE last season should’ve been the mom interacting with Mr. Mosby, with Barney and Robin’s wedding as background noise. Flashbacks and flashforwards and a one hour series finale will not save me from some sort of disappointment that we have not had more time with the mom. I do think she’s perfect for Ted, but I don’t love her like I-and the rest of the show’s audience-should. That’s kind of a big deal, and the final season is suffering for it.

I will honestly miss the program though. While I didn’t watch it week to week like many others may have (thanks Netflix!), I do enjoy the antics of the Maclaren’s Pub gang and while I have too many favorite memories to count, one that sticks the most is when “Murder Train” spontaneously kicks on during a fight or brawl between characters…or when Ted fought a goat.

To conclude, thank you for the memories, How I Met Your Mother. We will miss the playbook plays, the slaps, the songs, the bro code, the stormtrooper in Barney’s apartment, the Robin Sparkles discoveries, the NOBODY ASKED YOU PATRICE moments, and so much more. You have been Legend-wait for it hope you’re not lactose intolerant-dary!

Jason Stives – Confession time; I was a late bloomer in becoming a fan of How I Met Your Mother. I don’t normally have a lot of time for regular TV watching save for the occasional show and despite catching numerous episodes over the years I wasn’t always around to watch it. I knew many of the hallmarks; the blue french horn, slap bet, Robin Sparkles, Stella, Blitz, and so forth. I had played “Have You Met Ted?” in the bars on numerous occasions but I still never watched it religiously until last summer when I binged on 8 seasons prior to the final season premiere. There was a mixture of joy and annoyance in me. On one end, I had discovered a show that I could relate to on so many levels that I could watch any episode at any time and be filled with a sense of happiness that most modern comedy television fails to do. On the other hand, I was disappointed I had come into such a wonderful show at a time when my life was changing greatly and I could easily relate to all the fears and troubles of these five lovable characters.

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The thing about How I Met Your Mother that works so well is the message of the journey. This has never been about Ted’s journey to meet his future wife. It’s been about Ted’s journey in general. Over nine seasons we saw Ted and his four best friends evolve and care for each other through all their highs and lows and we were experiencing it right along with them. Themes like the failure to commit, the fear of love, and failing are all things we could relate to. We became so frustrated at times to see these truly lovable characters second guess their lives when we could see the best choices in front of them because we ultimately are those people in one form or another. Sure, there were times when we resented those characters and the paths they took and yes on the whole maybe the show went about three seasons too long but we also received so many great moments in those not-so-great seasons.

What Carter Bays and Craig Thomas created was a show that wasn’t just simple, likable characters that were funny by nature. They created something that displayed humanity and the realities of life perfectly through a sitcom filter. The show has never been scared to go deep and have some very unhappy moments, which makes it similar to many of the greatest shows in history than most of the big ratings hits currently airing.

Fans of the show have their own personal reasons for why they love the show. For me it’s a mixture of a wonderful sense of continuity, an ability to relate, and messages that reaffirm a viewer like me that there is always a place to matter in the universe as long as you are surrounded by the right people to show you that you do. Everyone is a Ted somehow because everyone has a journey that they may think is fixated on one goal but in reality it’s something that makes them grow and achieve so much while they wait to finish that one goal. It’s coming but you have to be patient.

Nick Porcaro – I consider myself to be somewhat of an overly critical pop-culture buff but there’s no denying my soft side. Somehow, someway, How I Met Your Mother managed to hit all the right notes in appealing to that aspect of my personality. The show introduced us to a rich, colorful cast of characters, tugged on the heartstrings with tales of love found and lost, and broke storytelling boundaries time and time again by playing a impressive long game with its inevitable conclusion. And if that weren’t enough, it also played host to a ton of guest stars, an excellent soundtrack and all sorts of meta, fourth-wall-breaking fun times.

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I was hooked from the very first episode, and with good reason—it remains one of the best pilots I’ve ever seen. All the heart, wit, non-linear storytelling and ensemble chemistry were there from the beginning. Another huge part of why I stuck around is because I can see more of myself in Ted Mosby, then and now, than I care to admit. He’s one of the least popular comedy protagonists, in part because his flaws are so glaring and relatable all at once, but How I Met Your Mother would not be what it is without Teddy Westside. (And Robin Sparkles, of course, but that’s another story for another post.)

Did the show overstay its welcome? It’s hard for me to say, as I marathoned the first seven seasons before catching up to eight and nine, but season six saw a notable dip in quality. Zoey was easily Ted’s least likable “serious” girlfriend and, with the introduction of characters like the Captain, the show’s more outlandish tendencies went from endearing and silly to straight-up cartoonish. Then again, that season also gave us Nazanin Boniadi’s delightful portrayal of Nora as the girl too good for Barney Stinson, so it just goes to show How I Met Your Mother had plenty of wins even at its worst.

Luckily for avid viewers like myself, the show rebounded tremendously in its ninth and final season. The magical mix of irreverent, occasionally edgy humor and raw sentimentality is highly prevalent in these episodes, and I can’t wait to see how it all ends. Above all, How I Met Your Mother is a show about hope and persistence. Ted waited a very long time to find his true love, but he wasn’t really waiting at all. He went out and lived life with all its highs and lows, triumphs and embarrassments, eternal friendships and fleeting acquaintances, and yes—it truly was legendary.

Jonathan Elliott – Fair warning: I’m writing this with one more hour of the story to go, with the finale airing March 31. It’s easy at this point to take pot-shots at for meandering stories or to throw out the rueful cry of “It’s just not as good as it used to be!” That’s just lazy or bad criticism. We got nine seasons and over two hundred episodes of storytelling, as one big and bold narrative. The ambition of that has to be respected. The reason HIMYM was a show worth falling in love with is that it exists outside the “lowbrow” world of CBS-style, Chuck Lorre-driven sitcoms, but it also doesn’t quite fall into the “smart” sitcoms by creators like Michael Schur often found on NBC, like Parks and Recreation. It won us over based on its big, goofy, clever, loudly-beating heart. Through clever twists and five characters each with their own lovable traits and even more lovable flaws, we learned to accept and care for this gang, in a way that maybe no show since Cheers has really accomplished.

HIMYM was at its best when it mixed the salty with the sweet, and let these characters’ real hang-ups swirl right on in with the funny stuff. Robin’s past as a Canadian teen idol is so much funnier because of the straight-laced emotional shut-in she grew up to be; Barney’s womanizing antics are undercut because he’s actually a hopeless romantic with abandonment issues at heart. And this final season really gave us a chance to just fall in love with Cristin Milioti as the mother, even before poor Ted really laid eyes on her.

I’ll always love HIMYM because of its characters, its use of unreliable narration to make humor work, its running gags, and its commitment to the central mystery at the core of its story. But first and foremost, the message that started and drove this journey is why the show worked: love is never easy, our stories never go quite the way we envision them, and as long as we’ve got good friends by our side and our hearts are open to change and surprise, life has a shot at ending up okay.

Thank you for the joy these last nine years, the blue french horns and red cowboy boots and yellow umbrellas and slaps and Sparkles and ducky ties. It’s been legen–wait for it…

Al Mannarino – I honestly never wanted to see an end to the adventures of Teddy Westside, Big Fudge, Lilly Pad, Robin Sparkles, and the Barnacle. Sadly after an impressive nine season run, the gang is leaving MacLaren’s Pub for good. I have been watching How I Met Your Mother since season 2 and, although I would be grateful for a few more seasons of watching Ted look for love in New York, I believe it’s the right time to end the series.

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There are so many reasons why HIMYM was one of the best shows on television, but I’ll try to just name a few. First off, the series had the best continuity I have ever seen on TV. There were so many jokes that were introduced early in the series that are still being used up until the finale. Marshal’s “come again for Big Fudge?” and Lily’s “you son of a bitch!” are amongst my favorite recurring jokes.

Another fantastic aspect about the show was their ability to flash back and forward in time to hint to where the plot was going or to explain more about a character. Seeing Robin as a teen pop star in Canada and finding out how Barney became a catchphrase using, suit wearing womanizer were just some of the highlights of the show. I am going to miss the interventions, Marshal’s obsessions with mythical creatures and charts, and slap bets. Although this show is very popular, I still believe it’s incredibly underrated. I will always consider How I Met Your Mother as my generations Friends.

Matthew Haviland – How I Met Your Mother is Nick Junior for adults. There’s enough heart behind every story that the show’s more surreal (sometimes “straight-up time travel”) aspects can remain grounded and that the wordplay can bravely strike out into forty seconds of hit-or-miss non sequitur without feeling like a Family Guy episode. Barney can act like Charlie Sheen without becoming the cardboard cutout that was Charlie Harper from Two and a Half Men. The most interesting things Charlie Sheen has done in the past ten years were the “tiger blood” interviews; Neil Patrick Harris does that kind of performance art in every episode. And though Barney’s at least sort of a magician (as is Neil Patrick Harris), his real magic is using gestures, tones, props, and dialogue to create a sensory experience night after night at the same table at MacLaren’s. When he speaks, it’s like Mia Wallace drawing dotted lines in thin air while she calls her dinner date a square in Pulp Fiction.

There is an art to making everyday conversations feel like a performance. Barney and most of the characters in How I Met Your Mother treat each dialogue cue like a card being pulled out of their sleeve. The last one is usually your card, and if not, that’s because it’s been a setup for an even bigger magic trick. While the later seasons have been less potent overall, there’s still a magic tangibility to almost every episode that makes you feel like you’re seeing the world with fresh eyes. Consider Ted whispering toilet jokes in a crowded museum and being heard loud and clear across the room because of an architectural design tic. Consider the way that one of the episodes of this brilliant final season was done completely in rhyming couplets. These aren’t gimmicks. These are what in literary circles is referred to as making it new. (Ted Mosby Moment: “Make it new” was Ezra Pound’s mandate for modernist poets in the early twentieth century.) Watching How I Met Your Mother is like reading a Billy Collins poem. Suddenly everyday things like a malfunctioning cassette tape feel full of wonder.

Matt Agosta – So HIMYM is ending, huh? Although I’m not a huge fan of the show and admittedly do not follow the show currently, its still a great show. I love watching re-runs whenever its on, but I don’t ever feel like I have to stay caught up on it, which to me is why it is a great show. I don’t ever have to know what is going on between Ted and Robin, or Robin and Barney, or whoever is dating in that episode, but I do know I’m going to laugh and enjoy what I’m watching. I’m not really big on sitcoms but when I first discovered HIMYM I did feel like this show wasn’t like the others. This show, unlike others like Friends or The Big Bang Theory, has one thing the others don’t: Neil Patrick Harris. This guy really makes this show go from good to great and every time he’s on screen I’m always paying attention to what he’s doing or what he’s going to do. Oh and Robin, my goodness she is so pleasant to look at. Did I mention I really like Robin? Well anyway, this is my goodbye to HIMYM. See you in syndication.

Kelly Duncan – I first stumbled upon How I Met Your Mother about halfway through its first season. It didn’t take long for me to start pushing it on all of my friends and they got hooked just as easily as I did. All it really takes it the first viewing of “The Pineapple Incident,” which is my personal favorite, and you’re hooked. It is the first show I’ve ever watched where my age synched up with the characters making it completely relatable, which is just one of the reasons I’ve loved it for so long. It made me not feel bad about my old people stamina. You know, wanting a seat at a concert or to be able to talk to my friends when I go out at night. Or realizing that I wasn’t the only person with a boss stealing credit for my work or even feeling like I wasn’t where I should be career wise. Even better yet, being the old married lady having a hard time keeping up with the “woo girls.”

While this final season has been focused a little too much on Barney and Robin and not nearly enough on Ted and the Mother, it has still had its moments. Finding out what Barney really does for a living is one in particular. It’s nice to know that he isn’t a completely horribly person. In any case, now that Barney and Robin’s wedding is out of the way, I’m holding out hope that the finale will be spectacular. No matter how it plays out, I can guarantee you that I will be crying far more than any sane person should over a TV show. It’s rare for a comedy to be able to make you laugh just as easily as it can make you cry, but HIMYM managed to do it time and time again and for that it will be greatly missed.

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