It’s been quite a long time since I’ve post anything about TV, but I feel compelled to give a quick tribute (ok, much like Ted, not so quick) to one of my personal favorites, How I Met Your Mother, which gives its hour long swan song on Monday 3/31.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may remember what I wrote about the show in This Old Show: 3 long-in-the-tooth personal favorites that I may just retire from my repertoire. Below is a brief summary of what I spouted early on regarding the final season of the HIMYM:
“And here is my dilemma: after Ted meets the Mother, will anyone even WANT to tune in after that? I’m one of the few who has completely enjoyed the ride of Ted’s journey to find his soul mate. I haven’t found the series taking too long of a time to reach the endgame. Actually, I think we are at the perfect point. He sees her, they finally meet, and he just KNOWS she’s the one. I’m not exactly sure I want any more. My only real complaint of the show is that Ted’s love interests are never very interesting. This casting of the Mother has got to be strong. In some ways I almost feel sorry for the actress who plays her: talk about extreme expectations and pressure!… Can the show successfully fill 22 episodes next season with Ted falling in love with the woman-who-will become-the-mother, ending with what we all assume will be his wedding? My fear is that the last season, which we knew was coming, will be a let down of sorts and a disappointing end to what was such a promising beginning with this series.”
First off, let me say that I couldn’t have been more wrong in my previous assumptions. Instead of creating an entire season revolving around Ted meeting and getting to know the Mother, the brilliant writers created an entire season around the events leading up to a different wedding- Robin and Barney’s, to be exact. Now, this season was certainly divisive: some loathed the premise of 20 odd episodes taking place within a 48 hour span, while others, like myself, have had a ball. Was this the best season yet of the series? No. Am I eternally glad I tuned in for the final season? Absolutely. All my fears about who was to be cast as the Mother and how that was going to unfold proved to be completely unfounded- Cristin Milioti is delightful. The writers did a wonderful job of incorporating her into the story without it being solely about Ted Meets Mother. Even if this wasn’t the most funny or the most cohesive season, it’s ending on the perfect note and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved for making such a likable and enduring TV show.
Without further ado, here is my solemn and heartfelt goodbye to a show I will remember fondly and forever link to my years living in Los Angeles.
Goodbye Best Pilot of 2005:
As I mentioned in my previous post about the show, I was an extra in the pilot episode and I distinctly recall thinking this was the funniest pilot I had ever had the pleasure of working on. It was a long 4 months of pilot season of background work, and I am pretty sure I was in every single one of them. But HIMYM was by far the best. It will always have a special place in my heart, and I can look back with pride and some frustration on my first year in Los Angeles, desperately trying anything to make it as an actor.
(If anyone is wondering or is planning on watching season 1, I was in McLaren’s in the pilot episode and if you look in the background of the scenes with Barney talking to Ted at the bar, search for a girl in a black blazer with a blonde pony tail sitting with a group in a booth. C’est moi.)
Just as Lily screaming “Son of a Bitch!” and her eyes going demon red is my husband’s favorite running gag on the show, Robin screaming at Patrice- the world’s most annoying perky co-worker- will forever remain mine. I think I love it so much, albeit sheepishly, because we all have that one true friend who would probably lay down his or her life for you and is, for whatever reason, someone you can’t stand at all. Robin’s irate and non-sensical frustration at Patrice drives me to giggles every single time.
“You’ve never looked more beautiful, Robin”- Patrice
“NO ONE ASKED YOU, PATRICE!!!”- Robin on her wedding day, in her dress, to Patrice who inexplicably ended up as her bridesmaid.
Goodbye to a realistic show about 30-somethings:
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the writing duo Carter Bays and Craig Thomas captured something incredibly unique and relevant in their writing of a group of friends in their 30s. In your 30s you are a little more settled into a career, you probably have a steady income, and you are mostly likely getting married and starting a family. Yet, as I’ve discovered since hitting my 30s, you never quite feel like an adult, even though you are going through the motions of adult-like things. What the show magically and successfully managed to capture was that delicate balance as one move into adulthood with all its wonderful trappings, while still trying to maintain one’s youth. Relationships with friends change as they start having kids. Parents and close family members die. You realize you hate the career you chose for yourself in college. Friends fall in love, get married, and move on, while your life seems to remain the same. This all happens after the big 3-0, and I’m glad it was represented well on the small screen.
Goodbye Neil Patrick Harris:
By all accounts, Barney never should have been a likable character never mind lovable. On paper he was a womanizing, scheming, lying and manipulative douche bag and the only person capable of bringing any heart or substance to him was Neil Patrick Harris. Bravo sir, you deserve some serious props. I’m sad that no one on this delightful show ever got the award recognition he or she deserved. If I could have an Emmy go to anyone, I would nominate Harris. He kept Barney funny and charming year after year, while still maintaining an underlying vulnerability and childlike naiveté that crept to the surface during his relationship with Robin. It would have been extremely easy for the writers to keep Barney as the comic relief without any believable depth, but they chose not to and Harris obviously did his homework on why a character would actively choose to act in the most outlandish and selfish ways. This show marked a sort of comeback for Neil Patrick Harris, and I sincerely hope this is not the last we’ve seen of him.
Goodbye to the HIMYM writers and best uses of running gags:
I will share a little secret while I was on the set of the pilot. The character of Rajiv was probably just meant to be a one episode walk-on until Carter Bays and Craig Thomas gave him the line “Signal”, which he said in such a funny way that had the entire writing staff and audience of background workers completely in stitches. It was such a fluke, a one-time thing to make the scene just a bit more funny than it already was and it worked. I would like to think that the character of Rajiv was born in that moment. And I think this describes the writing on the show as a whole: the two writer/creators were always listening and knew how to best leverage the comedy.
From Kyle MacLachlan’s The Captain to the Slap Bet to the Ducky Tie to the Playbook to Robin’s Canadian-ness to Barney’s mad cap reenactments to the fact that we only saw one body part of the Mother each season, these writers mastered creating some of the best and most imaginative running gags ever. Even the premise of the entire show is one long gag: Ted can’t ever tell just a story; he must recount an entire epic. I will miss the risks this show took each season. You could argue that the running gags were merely filler, but I think they were part of the grand plan of the entire series all along, and I for one thought them genius.
Goodbye Robin Sparkles (and honorable mention, Alan Thicke):
Oh wow, the episode modeled after VHI’s Behind the Music about Robin’s Canadian pop-star alter ego Robin Sparkles was one of the funniest of the entire show’s run. Every famous Canadian got his or her due. And who knew Alan Thicke could be so hysterical?! Every episode featuring Sparkles and Thicke were so crazy, so OUT THERE, I fell into an utter laughing fit. I love it when shows go delightfully weird- not jumping the shark weird- just a little left of center. It keeps the writing on its toes, but also I think the actors secretly love it. This is probably what has kept the show so fresh for most of its run, too.
Goodbye to the one episode in a sit-com that made me cry:
There were several heartwarming episodes on this show, but the one that got me was the episode which found Lily on the roof confessing to Ted that she’s not always as happy as she thought she’d be as a mother. It was so raw and incredibly truthful, and Alyson Hannigan absolutely nailed the moment. It sticks in my mind so vividly because the show can go from sheer comedy to drama in a blink of an eye, and it’s believable. These actors are so committed to being in the moment and understanding where their characters are coming from. I felt Hannigan touched on something real during that scene, and it was beautiful to watch her go through the emotion while Ted, who couldn’t exactly empathize with her, stood by her nonetheless as she poured her heart out. Ted listening to The Mother play the ukulele and sing La Vie en Rose from one hotel room balcony away is another really touching scene. I’ll miss those moments most of all as this series draws to a close.
I have no idea what to expect on Monday’s finale, but I’m sure I will shed a few tears. I know it’s only a show, but in my heart of hearts, I feel like I will be saying goodbye to a small part of my life tomorrow, happily and with bittersweet affection.