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F(l)o Show: How I Met Your Mother loses sight and loses viewers

By Florence Lau | February 23, 2012

Have you ever had one of your parents sit you down and tell you a story that you don't really care about and never actually asked to hear about in the first place? Do you remember how convoluted it was, and how much your parent rambled until you were ready to run away screaming? Well, no matter how bad you've had it, unless your parent has been telling you their story for seven consecutive years, I can guarantee that Ted Mosby's kids on How I Met Your Mother have had it worse.

As the title probably already makes obvious, HIMYM is a story about, well, how Ted met his kids' mother. However, a better name for the show is probably, How I Ran Around New York City With My Friends and Did Shenanigans, because that is a better summary of what has been going on this show for the past seven years.

The show centers around Ted (Josh Radnor) and his search for the perfect woman. Along for the ride is his best friend Marshall Erikson (Jason Segal) and Marshall's wife, Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan). Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) round out the little group with enough charged sexual tension to power a small city. As I already mentioned, they run around the Big Apple and cause shenanigans, sometimes learning some important life lessons about friendship or love or making good decisions along the way.

Season seven has dealt a lot more with Barney and Robin's sexual tension and their will they-won't they relationship than with Ted and his search for the perfect wife. In fact, for a comedy show, it's gotten quite dark, with full episodes dealing with heavy topics such as Robin's inability to have children and unreciprocated love. It's something which has, for me, turned the show into something I don't quite recognize when comparing it to the more light-hearted, fun episodes of earlier seasons. The jokes have gotten more contrived, cheaper and less sophisticated, something which had originally set HIMYM apart from other comedies in the past.

Still, there are some episodes that stand out for me as episodes which have a general feel of episodes from seasons one to four. They're witty and genuinely funny, while not going over the top, and don't resort to cheap gags to get laughs. Last Monday's episode was a breath of fresh air from some of the more serious turns this show has taken as of late.

In "No Pressure," Ted finds out that Lily and Marshall have been placing bets on their friends for years and years, and that one of their bets is on whether or not Ted will get back together with Robin (for those not caught up, Ted and Robin dated briefly in season two, but broke up due to incompatible life goals). As it so happens, Ted is on the brink of getting back together with Robin, who is fresh out of a relationship. However, Lily asks him why, if he has still held onto feelings to Robin for so long, they haven't gotten back together in five years. Meanwhile, Barney and Ted have a conversation about Robin and Barney's feelings (or rather, lack of feelings) for her.

Addressing the Barney-Robin relationship is one of the best things the showwriters have done this season, as we never got any resolution to it, and as an avid shipper of Barney/Robin, it was clear to me that it was something just waiting to happen. Both actors, especially Harris, are very good at "showing, not telling," and he showed us without the need for any dialogue, and often with dialogue indicating the opposite of his true feelings, that he still isn't over Robin. Smulders, who is not as good as this subtle art, is also able to convey the same with quick glances and other minute facial expressions.

To be completely honest, the Ted and Secret Mother storyline has been dragged out so long that at this point, I am much more interested in how Robin-Barney turns out. Unfortunately, the show has introduced a new love interest for Barney, which means that Robin and Barney will also probably be dragged out for a while, something which I hope does not turn my interest away from them.

However, something that this show has always been very good with, and continues to be good with, is continuity. For example, when Ted first starts dating Robin, he steals a blue French horn from a restaurant for her. In this episode, they go back to the same restaurant, and we see that the same horn is now chained to the wall. Such continuity makes us feel that we're in a single, connected universe, which helps establish reality in the show.

While HIMYM does not hold the same consistent charm as it did in the first several seasons, it's still a fun show about friendship, growing up and the ins and outs of relationships. It has already been renewed for an 8th season, although at this point, I'm of the opinion that since the writers are drawing out storylines for so long, it really needs to finish before it turns into something tedious. I just want to know who the mother is, damnit!

And seeing that Ted's essentially been telling his kids a story about his sexual escapades with various women over a period of seven years, I'm sure they'd appreciate the story finishing up as well.

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