Saturday, May 18, 2013

Some thoughts on How I Met Your Mother

If you read my last blog post, you'll know that I don't watch TV the same day or week where something premieres.  The season 8 finale of How I Met Your Mother was on TV five days ago, but I've only managed to watch it now.  As much as the show seems to drag on endlessly for some viewers, I have to say that I felt the season 8 finale, "Something New," was incredibly rewarding for someone who's followed the show longer.  OK, I'll admit I was late coming to it and only started watching regularly in its third season, but this particular episode is a great example of why I keep coming back.

I'm generally not a huge TV person and there are only a few shows I've ever followed regularly.  Sitcoms are an especially interesting genre because I don't really have much patience to follow a show.  Friends got old after the sixth season, as did Scrubs and Will & Grace.  I think Frasier was pretty good, but I was in middle and high school at the time, so probably didn't get the humor.  I've watched episodes of 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory, both of which I find absolutely hilarious, but I haven't seen every single episode, nor do I really plan on it.  The sitcom is a very episodic format, where things happen in one episode and it's done.  The overarching story exists, but is usually something that you can sum up in a few sentences.  I usually don't end up caring about characters in the long term.

For me, that's not true with HIMYM.  Each character has his or her strengths and stories and although Ted is the main character, we care about what happens to Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Barney as well.  The show is not just about the funny moments, but also the ones that make you think or the ones that make you cry.  Sure, the show's title How I Met Your Mother is essentially what the show is about and that's what I always argue with people who say, "I want to know who the mother is already!"  It's not the who, it's the how.

In "Something New," there are moments that just really bring back story lines and jokes from previous episodes.  My favorite is when Lily asks, "Where's the poop?"  In the episode where this line first appears (Season 6, "Unfinished"), the question, "Where's the poop?" is meant to get Robin to tell Lily about her drunk dialing Don after he's moved to Chicago.  Similarly, here in season 8 it's about getting Ted to tell Lily about how he hasn't gotten over Robin.  The whole Robin-Ted story line has been running since the show began and I like how it continues to appear.  We as the audience know that Robin isn't the mother, but it's part of the journey to get us to the mother.  Relationships are always complicated and the Robin-Ted story reflects that. 

By the time the episode comes to an end, we finally see the mother.  She has the yellow umbrella that we have gotten to associate with her and the bass that she plays in the Robin and Barney's wedding band.  And she's buying a train ticket to Farhampton where we saw Ted at the beginning of season 8 talking to Klaus about Lebenslangerschickshalschatz (not a real German word, but kind of awesome because it's all real German words stuck together).  We know that Ted is so incredibly close to meeting the girl he'll marry, but for him, he feels desolate, hopeless, and abandoned.  The other plot lines (Robin & Barney's future together, if Lily & Marshall go to Rome) are just as important, but for the moment, we can finally savor having a face to the titular character.

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