I am a big fan of How I Met Your Mother. I watch old episodes when I need to get to my happy place. Yeah, there are running gags that were never particularly funny, Ted is annoying on almost every level, and lots of their jokes are overplayed. Overall though, the show is fun, the stories are compelling, and the characters are well-developed, multidimensional, and stop just short of becoming the caricatures that plagues so many other sitcoms in their later seasons.
** spoiler alert, only continue reading if you’ve watched HIMYM
at least through season 8 **
Let’s be honest, as only real fans can be: the show jumped the shark. For me it was when the writers allowed the Barney/Robin back-and-forth to go back or forth too many times. We’ve always liked the drama with each exchange of longing looks between them, that by Season 7 has been going on since, well, Season 3. By the time Robin regrets setting up Barney with Nora it’s gone on enough. Then there is the backslide while both are in relationships with other people. Robin decides to stay with Kevin rather than commit to Barney for no clear reason, other than to prolong [read: drag out] the story line of finding their way back to each other. I can be forgiving of these obvious plot-line devices, as long as what follows are interesting stories. Let’s face it, this happened less and less.
Regardless, this blog post is in honor of the upcoming (if perhaps much over-due) finale of How I Met Your Mother. It seems like the right time to jot down my favorite moments from the first season to the penultimate.
Number 1: Disaster Averted [Season 07, Episode 09]
Speaking of the aforementioned backslide, the episode that leads up to it has a few good ones. Marshall is between jobs and without health insurance. This reality sends him into an Edgar Allen Poe-style delusion of his own impending doom, and while contemplating his fate, he is looked over by a raven figurine sitting on their mantle place (which is the famed Eames House Bird).
I love the exchange between him and Lily when he demands she stay by his side at all times to protect him from the many possible dangers lurking everywhere:
Lily: Wait, I have to go pee with you?
Marshall: You want me to go to the bathroom (he says with air quotes around bathroom), the most dangerous room in the house, by myself. Do you have any idea what could happen? [cut to Marshall washing his hands in the bathroom, the soap dispensers skirts in his eye, and while blinding he is attacked by a bear that was hiding in the shower.]
Lily: I don’t think we are seeing eye to eye about the likelihood of that happening.
All told, the backslide seals the episode in the list of greatest.
Number 2: Girl Vs. Suits [Season 05, Episode 12]
Picture a world where all the boys and girls are impeccably well dressed.
This episode honors Barney’s sartorial perfection. Even when Barney is suited-down, he still looks great. Neil Patrick Harris is a phenomenal performer, and the “Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit” musical number is a great one. But the best moment takes place in McLaren’s bathroom. Barney is going through suit withdrawal, he has a secret suit stashed in the stall so he goes to get a fix. The scene is an hommage to Pulp Fiction‘s montage of Vincent Vega shooting up before his date with Mia.
Number 3: Game Night [Season 1, Episode 15]
This episode continues on the theme of Barney and suits. We fondly remember HIMYM’s early seasons, when episodes were just good and they didn’t need all the gimmicks and set ups to entertain us. This episode is a highlight from Season 1 because it just tells a story well, with a lot of great lines sprinkled in.
Like when Marshall is introducing the game he invented:
Marshall: It’s called Marshgammon. It combines all the best features of all the best games: Candy Land, I Never, Pictionary…
Robin: [interrupts] Backgammon, obviously.
Marshall: No, Backgammon sucks. I took the only good part of Backgammon, the gammon, and I left the rest of it in the trash where it belongs.
Or when Barney calls out Ted for being a hypocrite:
Barney: Excuse me. Hi, Leg Warehouse? Yeah my friend Ted needs something to stand on.
But who among us does not love the revelation of Barney’s post-college metamorphosis from granola-eating peacenik to the legend—wait for it—dary business bro? After his girlfriend breaks his heart leaving him for a man with money, he stumbles out onto the street until he is handed a flier advertising a sale with the very clear instructions to “Suit Up!” Off comes the ponytail, goatee, and hemp clothing. On come the well-tailored suit, leather belt, fine timepiece, and cufflinks:
My whole life’s some money in the bank, some suits in my closet, and a string of one-night stands… My life rocks: money, suits, and sex! I could be cooped up in some tiny apartment changing some brat’s poopy diapers, but instead I’m out in the world being awesome 24/7/365.
Oh and “Here’s the mini cherry, on top of the regular cherry on top of the sundae of awesomeness that is my life…”: this episode actually gave me a reason to type the word “poopy.” I’m not sure anything else has ever achieved that for me.
Number 4: Mosbius Designs [Season 04, Episode 20]
The wardrobe designers were earning their keep when both Cobie Smulders and Alyson Hannigan were pregnant at the same time, but their characters were not. The always fashionable pair were both wearing layered, baggy tees, lots of flowing peasant blouses, and carrying really large hand bags. Despite this bit of trivia, the honorable mention goes to the reciting of the “boy funny” joke
What’s the difference between peanut butter and jam?
which consequently sends Lily into hiding [read: pregnancy leave] for four weeks.
Number 5: Glitter [Season 06, Episode 09]
Hey, Beaver, come on.
It’s inevitable that Robin Sparkles comes up in a discussion of the best of HIMYM, but Jessica Glitter deserves a word or two as well. Since “A second beaver can be second-to-none” Robin’s Canadian BFF is played by Nicole Scherzinger. Jessica Glitter comes back into Robin’s life to remind Robin that “friendship weighs a metric tonne,” and lucky us, they give an encore performance of their “Two Beavers” theme song:
(a better version of this clip can be seen here : Watch the Extended ‘Two Beavers’ Video From How I Met Your Mother)