Comfort QuaranTV: How I Met Your Mother

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As someone approaching the end of How I Met Your Mother for the third time, I can proudly say the nine-season-long American sitcom is my favourite series. The story revolves around Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall, and Lily, how they grow personally and professionally, with each episode as a flashback where Ted tells his children their stories in 2030 and looks at life with a nostalgic lens.

The plot begins as Ted, Marshall and Lily, friends from Wesleyan University, meet Robin and Barney, two strangers at MacClaren’s, a bar that swiftly becomes the gang’s frequent haunt. The series explores a variety of storylines, including a turbulent love triangle between Robin, the independent workaholic, Ted, the overthinking hopeless romantic, and Barney ,the sex-crazed womanising mess. We also see the development of a stable relationship between a goofy lovable environmental lawyer and a caring yet meddlesome kindergarten teacher – Marshall and Lily. Each plotline is anchored on Ted’s search for his future wife, bringing viewers on a journey with those who feel like friends of our own. 

‘Each plotline brings viewers on a journey with those who feel like friends of our own.’

HIMYM is relatable, heartwarming and wholesome. It dives into themes of friendship, gender expectations, fate, and strikes the viewers with countless life lessons. There is one quote that sums up the emotional core of the show, ‘even if you know how something’s going to end, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride’. Indeed, the smaller moments, like the gang watching Superbowl, and meeting every girlfriend Ted thought was ‘the one’, make up the bigger stories in life. Ted meeting the Mother was what tied the show together, but as with all long journeys, the most compelling part is what it took to get there, which subconsciously urges viewers to appreciate the moments they might otherwise miss in their own lives. 

HIMYM is knitted together by a series of running jokes. The most iconic would have to be ‘Haaaaave you met Ted?’ – whenever Barney throws Ted on the spot with a woman who may or may not have been the Mother. Among those numerous encounters, we see Ted grow from an immature, overly attached and neurotic wreck to a confident, emotionally open, and professionally successful architect when he meets the woman he would marry. Another is the ‘Slap Bet’ where Marshall won a bet about Robin’s fear of malls and is allowed to slap Barney five times at any moment across the series. The show is also connected by catchphrases like ‘Legend-wait-for-it-dary’ whenever Barney convinces the group to do something silly but memorable, leading to a lesson: ‘nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m’. 

‘HIMYM is knitted together by a series of running jokes’

HIMYM is real and unpretentious. It lectures its viewers that it is okay to say ‘I love you’ on a first date, haunted by your childhood, think of a comeback you should’ve said years ago, or work for a corporation whose values don’t align with your own. It is normal to make mistakes because we are all human, ultimately, they are what make us who we are. Aside from the lighthearted stories, the creators, Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, were not afraid to get serious either, touching on subjects like Robin’s infertility, the death of Marshall’s dad, or Ted being left at the altar. 

This is not your mainstream comedy with a predictable, happy ending. The Mother eventually passes and Ted runs back to his longtime love interest Robin. But for me, it doesn’t matter who the ‘Mother’ is, the show is structured around a philosophy believing every turn your story took is part of where you will end up. After a sequence of left turns that may seem right at the time or ridiculous with hindsight, it still gets you to the same place a right turn will take you; and it is nuances like these that make the show so emotionally absorbing, because life is truly unpredictable and things do not always turn out the way we want. The metaphorical yellow umbrella teaches us, ‘sometimes you think you’re living out one story, but the truth turns out to be another thing entirely’, if it brings you to where your heart truly lies, there is nothing wrong about it and life can still be an enjoyable ride! 

Image: Katherine Moran via Unsplash

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