Thursday, October 16, 2008

Haaaaave you met Ted (and the rest of the gang from How I Met Your Mother)?

It's been a while since I've had a favorite sitcom after the demise of Friends and Frasier, but I've finally found a worthy successor.

How I Met Your Mother is a TV series people my age (*cough*) can totally relate to, if only for the simple reason that the characters are our age right now. My generation was only in high school when we started watching Friends, and still in college when we began watching Sex and the City, so we were like a bunch of kids eavesdropping on a grown-up conversation. HIMYM's cast of characters are all in their late 20s, single (on and off), and looking for-- and occasionally finding-- love and happiness. The novel gimmick of this show is that the whole thing is one big flashback, narrated from the point of view of the lead character Ted in the year 2030 (voiced by our generation's favorite TV dad, Bob Saget). He is telling his 2 teenaged children the story of how he met their mother 25 years ago, when he was living in New York City with his roommate and best friend Marshall. Marshall had recently proposed to his long-time girlfriend Lily, and this triggered a panic attack from marriage-minded Ted, who was yearning to find his one true love, to the frustration of their slick, incorrigible buddy Barney, who was constantly volunteering to be Ted's wingman (even if he didn't want one) and trying to convert him to eternal bachelorhood.

Then Ted met Robin, the woman of his dreams, who would eventually become the 5th member of their group, and who may or may not become the mother of his children (no spoilers!). From there, the series is just one fun, funny episode after another, each serving as an anecdote told by Ted to his kids, who are shown intermittently throughout the season, sitting on a sofa wearing the same clothes and getting increasingly exasperated as their dad's story stretches on. I love how the show cleverly uses the flashback device, not just as the premise of the series, but also within individual episodes. It keeps HIMYM fresh and unpredictable, and markedly different from run-of-the-mill sitcoms. The writing, while lacking the polish of Friends', is smart and snappy and more importantly, real. By "real" I mean the characters talk like real 27-year-olds: Ted and company sound like how my friends and I sound, groaning about the drudgery of our jobs, moaning about the sad state of our love lives, raving about a restaurant or movie, rehashing a shared memory, and razzing each other mercilessly. And just like us, the guys from HIMYM are not beyond lapsing into juvenile jargon and behavior. Their lines are sprinkled liberally with "awesome" (used as both adjective and noun), "totally", "waaait for it...", "niiice", and punctuated with "yeah you/I did!", "whattup", "burn!" or hilarious variations on "high-five".
Moreover, trademark Barney catch phrases "Haaaaave you met Ted?", "Suit up!" and "It's going to be legendary!" have now become... well, legendary.

As far as I'm concerned, the real star of the show isn't the likable but generic Ted, it's the obnoxious but endearing Barney,
played to awesome perfection by Neil Patrick Harris, he of Doogie Howser, MD fame. Unabashedly chauvinistic, unrepentantly conceited, and unswervingly well-dressed, Barney treads the fine line between smooth operator and slimeball, but manages to charm people (females, mostly) with his razor wit, and bespoke suits. He gets the best zingers, the funniest storylines, and pretty much steals every scene he's in. If only Jeremy Piven of Entourage would be taken out of the running already (3 Emmys?? c'mon, he's not THAT good), NPH should be a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy.

My affection for the Barnacle doesn't take anything away from the rest of the HIMYM cast though. Josh Radnor is a neat fit as the affable protagonist Ted. He sort of reminds me of Zach Braff: the crush-able nice guy with a great sense of humor. Something about Radnor makes him totally plausible as the hopeless romantic prone to screwing up his relationships (must be
what Brock meant by "adorably awkward"). Jason Segel, who plays Marshall, is a natural comic and has the best chemistry with each of the other cast members, with perhaps the exception of Cobie Smulders, the actress who plays Robin, for the simple reason that their characters don't interact often. Smulders is serviceable as the purported woman of Ted's dreams: she's attractive, seems intelligent and is not annoying the way some pretty girls just are (though she does strike me as overly earnest sometimes). Last but not least, Alyson Hannigan (yes, the girl from band camp in American Pie) is cute as a button in her role as Lily, the sweetheart who acts as the group's counselor/conscience. Petite and perky, Hannigan offsets Segel's big oaf ways nicely, and together as Lily and Marshall they're the quintessential match-made-in-heaven couple.

HIMYM may never be as popular or long-lived as Friends was, but it's terrific to finally have a sitcom that speaks my generation's language (as crazy as that language may be) and speaks to my generation about the pitfalls and pratfalls of dating, relationships, and the single's search for love. In short, HIMYM is totally awesome. (High-)five stars!

3 Comments:

At Sunday, October 19, 2008, Anonymous jen ong said...

YEYYY i love how i met your mother too :) barney's hilarious. what season are you in now?

 
At Thursday, October 23, 2008, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Finishing up Season 2. Will be done with Season 3 in 2 more weeks or so. =D

I miss you Mini-me! Come home soon!

 
At Thursday, October 23, 2008, Anonymous jen ong said...

Soon soon. I'll be back on the 11th of December :)

 

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