How I Met Your Mother

If you dont know what episode of Seinfeld this is, you might not understand my point.

When George and Jerry were trying to sell their pilot to NBC, they were asked why anyone would watch a show about nothing, to which George responded, “Because it’s on TV.” That used to be the norm.

Back in the olden days, if something was on TV, it would get watched. How else to you explain shows like Small Wonder, Charles in Charge, and My Two Dads? But now, because there is so much competition for things that use up our time in an unconstructive manner – on demand, cable, DVDs, internet, video games, etc. – things actually have to be good. It’s taken a while for television executives to figure this out. A few years ago Community, 30 Rock, Dexter, or Breaking Bad never would’ve made it on the air because they’re too unlike anything else that’s on television; executives like similarities (people say it’s because they don’t have any ideas of their own so they simply restate things over and over again; I can’t speak to that since I don’t know any executives. If I did, do you think Tiny Life would still be a comic?! Hell no! It’d be a kick-ass manga series staring a stick-figure and a talking dog!).

Because of this, there are still a few hold-overs from the Old Ways. Series like Law and Order and Two and a Half Men should not exist in this environment; they’re repetitive shows where each week the viewer knows exactly what to expect. With Law and Order, it’s a “ripped from the headlines” muder case where a not-so-surprising twist ending ruins the last hour; with Two and a Half Men, it’s one guy complaining that he’s not getting laid and another guy complaining that he’s getting laid too much. No other show, however, exemplifies this holdover mentality of the Old Ways better than How I Met Your Mother.

If you can name ONE episode of this that is funny, Ill watch it.

How I Met Your Mother should be good. You have NPH (the best thing about Harold and Kumar), Alyson Hannigan (the best thing about Buffy), and Jason Segel (the best thing about Sarah Marshal). You have a concept where the main character tells a history of his relationships the other characters. You have funny storylines (or comedic situations) like “slapsgiving”, Barney’s playbook, and “Robin Sparkles.” Any one of those things alone should give you a funny series. Instead, we get 50-year-old jokes and canned laughter, things TV executives masturbate to.

How I Met Your Mother is a classic example of TV That Should Be Good. Shows like V or Studio 60 or Heroes also fall into this category. They all have a terrific premise, but for whatever reason, the show just falls flat on its ass.

The reason I bring this up is because of my friends’ insistence that I would somehow like this show. There have (easily) a dozen people who’ve said, after my “I really only watch threetofour shows” speech, “Have you seen How I Met Your Mother? It’s amazing. Better than The Big Bang Theory.” The Big Bang Theory is awful too.

It’s just another sitcom. The Wife hates watching it with me because I say the obvious punch line to the obvious set-up two beats before the character does. For instance, I recently watched an episode where the group retires a car. The characters talk about a series of events over the life of the car. One event is where two characters are caught in a snowstorm. I said to The Wife, “They’re going to talk about eating each other (it‘s hilarious because Guy #1 will say that Guy #2 can eat him if he dies, but Guy #2 won’t say it), they’ll snuggle for warmth (it’s hilarious because two straight guys hugging each other is always funny), and when daytime comes, they’ll either be in their own driveway or a parking lot (it’s hilarious because they could’ve just gotten out of their car instead of being cold all night).” All three things happen. Another event of the episode happens after an extremely long set-up about how there should never be any food or drink in the car. So what does the girlfriend do? Gets food in the car! That’s hilarious on so many levels.

Well, really just the one.

And it’s not all that funny on that one level.

How I Met Your Mother, like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory and Law and Order, is just a holdover from a bygone era of television. Like V or Studio 60 or Heroes, it’s not what it could be. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you like How I Met Your Mother, you’re wrong.

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