A Rewatch of… How I Met Your Mother

A beloved American sitcom following the ups and downs of love, friendship, and adulthood, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ triumphed in charming fans for more than 200 episodes within its nine series run. With its relatable characters and storylines, unique structure and mix of humour and drama, audiences could not help but fall in love with this show. Perhaps this is because it reminds us of other similarly adored sit-coms such as ‘Friends’, ‘New Girl’, ‘Scrubs’ or ‘The Office’, which all use the same successful sitcom formula: following a close-knit group of friends in their late 20’s and early 30’s trying to navigate adulthood. Much like these sitcoms, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ made stars out of its main cast ensemble through its endearing depiction of friendships and romantic relationships. Full of heart and humour, it’s an easy re-watch and classic comfort show.

In the show, protagonist Ted Mosby narrates his life from the present day of 2030, where he tells his kids the story of how he met their mother. Through this framing device, flashbacks show Ted falling in and out of love, working and aspiring to be an architect, and most importantly, growing up with his friends in New York City. The series, therefore, follows the lives of Ted’s best friends too. This includes long-term couple Marshall and Lily, fan-favourite playboy bachelor Barney and Canadian news reporter Robin, who moved to New York to further pursue her career in journalism, whom Ted falls in love with, but is not the titular mother of the show.

Through a unique and heartfelt style of storytelling, the show explores concepts of true love, soulmates, destiny, chance encounters and creates ‘connect the dots’ for the audience. But while the show is full of romantic subplots, it equally romanticises friendship and is full of important life lessons such as the fact that ‘soulmates’ can also be your friends. Through Ted’s unreliable narration, the show portrays events in unique and creative ways in each episode, such as through non-linear narratives, multiple points of view, and elaborate storylines that come together in perfect comedic timing.

The ultimate question that audiences are teased by throughout the show is ‘who is the mother?’ Only in the final episode of season eight and within season nine do we meet this character, but this seems to be because the show was never really about the mother. Most fans probably still haven’t gotten over the controversial final episode as future Ted ends up with his long-loved ex-girlfriend Robin. This ‘will they/won’t they’ relationship between Robin and Ted is probably one of the most frustrating things about the show. Despite managing to cast the perfect mother and write a rather sweet and humbling storyline for her (up until the series finale where she passes away), this ending may come as no surprise as this dynamic appears to be set up within the first episode of the show. Still, to this day, the finale is quite a big let-down.

Characters can develop and grow on screen, but when re-watching ‘How I Met Your Mother’, audiences will most likely gain some differences of opinion and realise some major issues with some of the characters’ behaviour that would be unacceptable within society today. For example, audiences might realise the charming, intellectual protagonist Ted Mosby is immature, selfish and impulsive, while the devil on his shoulder ‘suit up’ Barney Stinson also doesn’t seem to be quite as ‘legendary’ as we first thought – with both of these men repeatedly using, manipulating, and taking advantage of women throughout the show. Is it enough that Barney becomes a husband and a father, and Ted meets the love of his life for them to both be redeemed? Was Barney’s extravagant ploys to seduce women really funny? Or does this type of comedy encourage this kind of behaviour in real life?

Though these characters are perhaps not the male role models we’d like to see, Marshall was certainly the best friend one could have in the gang. Loyal, trustworthy and supportive, he was always caring towards his partner, characteristics that made him a good father, husband, and judge. Marshall and Lily offered a positive representation for couples in long-term relationships through their devotion to one another and how they overcame their struggles and hardships. Robin was a positive role model for career-focused women and women who can’t have or do not want children. On the other hand, Lily offered a positive representation for mothers as she managed to portray the joys and struggles of motherhood.

Seven years have passed since this incredible show aired its final season. Despite some of its issues for modern audiences, there are still plenty of reasons for old fans and new viewers to rediscover this wonderful and heart-warming sitcom, especially as a prequel series titled ‘How I Met Your Father’ has just been announced.

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Lily Boag

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September 2021
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