?

Log in

No account? Create an account
How I Met Your Mother? More Like "Cow, I Et Yer Brother!" - The Book of the Celestial Cow

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile
> My Website

May 14th, 2008


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
10:41 pm - How I Met Your Mother? More Like "Cow, I Et Yer Brother!"
How I Met Your Mother was sort of like 30 Rock in that I didn't hear great things about it early on, but then, as the months went by, it seemed like everyone I knew had become a huge fan. I was skeptical because it was a regular sitcom, but the lines people often quoted were pretty funny, and when the end of "Slap Bet" rolled around, I had an inkling that HIMYM really was something special. But despite many attempts to get me to watch, I resisted because I was already watching so much, especially on Mondays.

And then two things happened: I decided to drop Prison Break and I saw an ad in Entertainment Weekly that showed me that Cobie Smulders is really hot. It was a sign that it was time to succumb.

How I Met Your Mother is the long, winding story of how Ted Mosby (voiced in the year 2030 by Bob Saget!) met his children's mother. It's a story! With a narrator! I love narrators! And, by extension, narration humor. This show has both. It's about to conclude its third season, and we're not really any closer to having any sort of clue who The Mother is, although we've gotten scattered hints. But Ted is taking forever to get to his point because this is not just the story of how he met their mother. It's the story of getting to that stage of his life. It's the story of being in the second half of your twenties and realizing that it's high time to become an adult...if you can figure out what that means, exactly. And it's also, of course, the story of a group of friends. Sort of like that other show about friends. What was it called? Oh yeah, Coupling! (duchessdogberry has this great theory that, just as Coupling was the British answer to Friends, HIMYM is the American answer to Coupling. Think about it.)

So who are these friends? First of all, there's Ted Mosby. And the thing about Ted Mosby is...I AM TED MOSBY. He's a hopeless romantic who is conflict-avoidant and change-averse! He's like an architect version of me who actually gets to have sex! Seriously, people describing Ted sounds like reading my LiveJournal. So if they make a movie of my life, they might as well cast Josh Radnor in brownface. He's a good bloke, that Ted, and I'm always rooting for him. For instance, the show begins with his chasing Robin (played by the aforementioned Cobie Smulders), a strong, independent, driven newscaster. He think she's The One, and I have been down that road before, so I will gladly follow behind him to pick up the pieces of his shattered heart. Luckily, Robin is pretty cool, and she fits well into the group, which also includes Marshall & Lily. Marshall is a law student and a total sweetheart, completely devoted to Lily over the many years they've been together. He's full of random quirks like a fondness for the Loch Ness monster Nessie and a tendency to break into the Robot, but Jason Segel sells it all. Like everyone else on the show, he describes most everything as AWESOME, and I approve. Marshall and Ted were roommates in college, and they continue to live together in New York, and it's really nice to see such a strong friendship between guys, especially since I don't really have anyone like that. Marshall's girlfriend (spoiler alert: fiancée) is Lily. Since it's Alyson Hannigan, perhaps the best way to describe her would be Willow with more of a backbone. She's full of all those cute retorts we know and love, but she's just as aggressively sarcastic as the rest of them. Lily is comparably devoted to Marshall; the two of them represent the ideal couple. When she proclaims, "We're adorable!" she's telling the truth.

And then there's Barney, a.k.a. the second coming of Neil Patrick Harris as heralded by Harold and Kumar. Barney is the obligatory Breakout Supporting Character that can elevate a show to a higher plane. Truthfully, I found him slightly irritating at first, as he seemed to be nothing more than a walking bag of catchphrases (you've heard them all by now, I'm sure). But as the show went on, two important things happened: the writers were hilariously creative with the recurring catchphrases and, more importantly, Barney started to feel like a person, both by virtue of the writers giving him layers and NPH completely committing to this absurdity of a character. He's a filthy rich, suit-wearing womanizer who's broken down the world—women and relationships, mostly—into all sorts of rules and graphs and codes that he truly believes in. He's extremely self-absorbed and narcissistic, and he's kind of an awful person. But yet...he's also kind of awesome. Barney Stinson is so awesome, in fact, that he gets an origin story. As you learn more about Barney's past, you start to see why he is the way he is (his love of Laser Tag needs no explanation because, come on, LASER TAG). He's still kind of an awful person, but he's very entertaining. And he does have a heart (like Tony Stark!).

I love this group of five friends because, well, they're so good together! They tease each other mercilessly, but they love each other dearly. Also, I love that they're all kind of lame and immature at times, because it's nice to see a 28-year-old giggle at the word "package" since, come on, it's still funny! They make ridiculous puns because they just have to be made. They're the kind of people who are all "Yeah I did" and "What up!" after making a joke, but it's endearing rather than irritating. But they're also quite mature at times, which is some of the best stuff in the show. I love the way the show examines human relationships and, even though it's a sitcom, it allows them to be complex and realistic. There are no simple answers; it's always more than just "Person A is right and Person B is wrong." It mines conflict from within the characters.

Hands down, however, what sets HIMYM apart from all other sitcoms is the narrative structure, which I fucking love. Because every episode is essentially non-linear. Not just because of the frame story: the episodic stories themselves are told through judicious use of flashbacks (even breaking the rule of not having a flashback-within-a-flashback). We rarely see things as they happen; instead, we hear what happened afterward as a character tells someone else. More stories! This often employs the device of having the story broken up in little chunks so that each beat makes you think it's going somewhere that the next flashback informs you it's not. It's like a miniature version of the series itself, except these stories actually get to the end. Another technique is revealing that you've been seeing part of the story from a distorted perspective (Ted is somewhat of an unreliable narrator (I HEART UNRELIABLE NARRATORS)). Perhaps my favorite device—and the most brilliant—is one in which an earlier scene is actually a setup-in-disguise for a later flashback that reveals that there was more going on in the scene than first observed, because of the limited perspective. You always have to be on your toes because nothing can be taken at face value; it might turn out that Marshall was just to the right of the frame ALL THAT TIME or something. For example. The show loves to play with audience expectations, which means it loves to play with storytelling, which means I LOVE IT.

When you're telling one long story, it helps to make it feel like one long story. Which is why the show employs our good friend CONTINUITY! Besides the host of recurring gags, you get returning characters, references to throwaway lines, and, of course, one of the greatest ideas in the history of the sitcom: the Slap Bet. And because of the narrative style, you can even get retroactive continuity; sometimes Future Ted will jump you ahead in the timeline (or even just tease you or give a subtle spoiler), and you have to wait for it to make sense when you get to that part of the regular story. Episodes can generally be enjoyed pretty well on their own, but the continuing story and character arcs are very rewarding.

The creators have talked about the fact that the show started around the time people were declaring that the sitcom was dead. And, like I said, I've become so accustomed to single-camera comedies that I hesitated to check out what seemed like a traditional sitcom (even though I loved traditional sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld, but for every one of those there are about ten others that aren't worth my time). And HIMYM does feel sitcom-y in the basest sense of its look and a lot of the beats and, well, the damn laugh track (which becomes surprisingly easy to tune out after a while). But it's far more creative and inventive than most sitcoms, and, as the creators and actors say over and over on the DVDs, it has a lot of heart. The characters draw you in such that you want to go hang out at MacLaren's every day.

Did I mention the show is funny? I thought that would be a given since it's a comedy. But if you want my assurance, there it is. It's very funny. It can even induce an LOL! There have been many episodes that have caused me to bust out with "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha." True story.

Finally, the show just makes me happy. And everyone needs a show like that.
Current Mood: hothot
Current Music: Regina Spektor - Edit

(54 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
[User Picture]
From:wiscck
Date:May 15th, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
(Link)
Most people don't like Ted, but I do. I have a little bit of a crush on him.

Cobie Smulders is really hot.
Yeah, she is. But she intimidates me because SHE IS THE SAME AGE AS ME. People that seem that with-it and put together have to be at least ten years older than me, maybe five if they're really mature, and she's not. She kind of makes me feel like a loser, but, whatever, I like Robin, too.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 06:05 am (UTC)
(Link)
Most people don't like Ted
I am gathering this! And they also don't like Ted and Robin together! I appear to be some sort of anomaly!

She kind of makes me feel like a loser, but, whatever, I like Robin, too.
Role model, then!
(Deleted comment)
From:sainfoin_fields
Date:May 15th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
(Link)
Your last line. Yes. There are many shows I love, and some that I hold in extremely high regard, but generally what I get from them is the satisfaction of a story very well told, characters done justice, emotional arcs followed through, jokes pulled off, thoughts provoked, etc. etc. And I love them dearly. But no other show in the history of shows has ever made me as consistently HAPPY as HIMYM (as well as doing those other things).

HAPPY FICTION. IT CAN BE A THING!
From:sainfoin_fields
Date:May 15th, 2008 06:18 am (UTC)
(Link)
P.S. "Cow, I Et Yer Brother" is something I can totally see myself saying if only I had the context. I approve?!
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 06:47 am (UTC)
(Link)
I do! I love a few songs; I don't have a whole lot. "Edit" is one of my favorites.
[User Picture]
From:squaringkarma
Date:May 15th, 2008 07:07 am (UTC)
(Link)
Well, I know I'm definitely giving this series a go when I'm done with Buffy. (Three dozen episodes, holy shit. I think I figured out that if I do indeed keep watching two a day while I'm at summer school and a disc a day when I get home, I'll be done with Buffy and Angel just after getting home around Independence Day.) Being that Lord knows I'm gonna need an Alyson Hannigan fix. And I've already seen the pilot.

Edited at 2008-05-15 07:07 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:apriljoiex
Date:May 15th, 2008 07:09 am (UTC)
(Link)
I'm glad you've found the HIMYM love! I can't get enough of the show, and the characters and laughs. Great analysis of the show. I think Marshall is probably my favorite. The Slap-bet is possibly the greatest sitcom storyline in the history of storylines!

Have you gotten up to date with this season or just 1 and 2?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 07:16 am (UTC)
(Link)
I am completely caught up and ready to experience the finale with everyone else! What will it bring?!
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Its nice to read a glowing opinion on a show you love, reaffirms your life for it as so to speak
I know exactly what you mean.

The end of 'Come On' still upsets me.
I KNOW! So sad.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
(Link)
To break up over differing goals and states of being, rather than because someone was a jerk, just seems worse to me.
Yeah, I was really pleased with the way they (both the characters and the show) handled that.
[User Picture]
From:lynevere
Date:May 15th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yay, HIMYM!

I'll actually read your post in October... but Jacob and I are only up to the end of the 2nd season, so I'm scared of spoilers. (3rd season DVD comes out October 14th!) I picked up the first DVD at Blockbuster on a whim, and we've loved it. It's consistently funny, and I get drawn in by the flashbacks/flashforwards. I hope everything really is as connected as Ted says it is. Also, I really enjoy the fact that (with the exception with the end of 1/start of 2 travesty), we have a happy/funny couple in Marshall and Lilly. A couple doesn't need angst to be compelling.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Jacob and I are only up to the end of the 2nd season, so I'm scared of spoilers.
There are no spoilers for the third season in my post. I try to be as non-spoilery as possible in my pimping posts.

I hope everything really is as connected as Ted says it is.
Oh, me too. I hope the finale is some sort of "Lucky Penny"-esque romp where you can follow the trajectory from the pilot all the way to the moment that Ted meets the Mother.

A couple doesn't need angst to be compelling.
Yeah, I liked that they were happy and together but still had issues.
[User Picture]
From:vwbug
Date:May 15th, 2008 12:11 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The narrative structure is also what caught me about this show, and I'd bet it's why my parents love it as well. It's kind of weird to watch a show like this and know that your parents are watching as well. But, it is good TV.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Parents don't watch good TV! What's up with that?!
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:etherealclarity
Date:May 15th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm glad you like HIMYM :) I was never really a Friends OR Seinfeld fan, so accepting the fact that I really liked a sitcom was a bit difficult at first. But I'm so very hooked.

Also, you should definitely give more of Regina Spektor's stuff a try... some of it is really out there, so it can take a few listens to get into, but WOW. Fantastic stuff.
[User Picture]
From:filmtx
Date:May 15th, 2008 01:06 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The last sitcom I watched on a regular basis was Seinfeld. So, I didn't watch this show early-on either. But I got into it after watching Buffy and becoming a big Alyson Hannigan fan. I'm so glad I did! Barney is my favorite character. I also love how the narration filters the story. Like the subway sandwich being a substitute for pot. Thank god we got a season 4 or I'd be really deperessed right now. I don't even mind the addition of Britney. I think she's kinda funny, actually.

ETA: I think it took me 5-6 episodes of "Firefly" to finally figure out that Crazy Eyes was Inara.

Edited at 2008-05-15 01:15 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:raelee
Date:May 15th, 2008 01:23 pm (UTC)
(Link)
When you're telling one long story, it helps to make it feel like one long story. Which is why the show employs our good friend CONTINUITY! Besides the host of recurring gags, you get returning characters, references to throwaway lines, and, of course, one of the greatest ideas in the history of the sitcom: the Slap Bet. And because of the narrative style, you can even get retroactive continuity; sometimes Future Ted will jump you ahead in the timeline (or even just tease you or give a subtle spoiler), and you have to wait for it to make sense when you get to that part of the regular story. Episodes can generally be enjoyed pretty well on their own, but the continuing story and character arcs are very rewarding.

This whole paragraph captures exactly why I love this show soooooooo much. I was just telling Jody the other day that I don't think the show is always consistently as funny as other sitcoms but that the continuity factor more than makes up for it (and, in fact, makes some things funnier to the regular watcher that the occasional watcher).

Also, to reply to the comment you left me the other day, we don't always disagree! Do we? We almost always like the same shows but in different ways. Haha. But I love Ted. So my dislike for Ted and Robin is more because I didn't always love Robin. She's grown on me but it took awhile. I'm not even really sure why. So, it wasn't that I didn't want Ted with Robin... it was that I liked Ted and didn't want to have to watch so many scenes of him with Robin. But I'm glad I did because the payoff is great. And now I love her.

I'm glad you started watching and reading this just reiterates something I'm writing in a "love letter" to the show, that what I love about it is how real they make it. I feel like, of all the shows on the air at the moment, I can really identify with these people. I think it's also why the CBS management doesn't really get why people love it so. It's just so removed from their lifestyles and, yet for those of who feel like these people could be us, that's part of what makes the show so great.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This whole paragraph captures exactly why I love this show soooooooo much.
Hee! So many o's!

I was just telling Jody the other day that I don't think the show is always consistently as funny as other sitcoms but that the continuity factor more than makes up for it (and, in fact, makes some things funnier to the regular watcher that the occasional watcher).
I was just watching "Let's Go to the Mall," and I noticed that Robin Sparkles says that the dreamy boy she meets at the mall does jumps on his skateboard. And one of the things Robin mentions about James Van Der Beek is that he can do an ollie! It's the little things. I don't think it's as continuity-licious as Arrested Development, but it's just so full of little consistent character traits and interactions.

Also, to reply to the comment you left me the other day, we don't always disagree! Do we? We almost always like the same shows but in different ways. Haha.
Hee, yeah. That's what I meant.

But I'm glad I did because the payoff is great. And now I love her.
Good! It was hard for me to explain what I liked about Robin. I think I just pulled "strong" and "independent" from someone else.

I'm glad you started watching and reading this just reiterates something I'm writing in a "love letter" to the show, that what I love about it is how real they make it. I feel like, of all the shows on the air at the moment, I can really identify with these people.
Aw, love letters. And YES. These people are in our stage of life, so we identify with their issues and the way they act.
[User Picture]
From:harper47
Date:May 15th, 2008 01:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Word to everything you posted. Oh not the I am Ted paragraph because I'm not, but you are. (good comparison).

I love Mother. It took awhile for me to get there too but I am now firmly committed, head over heels in love with this show. Which is why I'm allowed to be mad at them for the stupid Britney episode but still understand that we need the ratings man.

And how much do I love the creators, who knew their show was on the line, and had to perform this Spring, so they went out and got the biggest rating grab they could find? So much. That's the way you save a show. (Now never ever bring her back unless we need another ratings boost. K?)

I'm so glad you love the show.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Ha, yeah, good job on getting Britney to save the show, but let's not bring her back. It's too weird and wrong.

I'm glad they got renewed! It would have been annoying to do all the work of catching up with everyone only to get just one communal episode out of it.
[User Picture]
From:zimshan
Date:May 15th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
(Link)
WELL, FUCK.

You just HAD to go and post this right during the time that the rest of my flist is going nuts about it, at the same time the everyone I know here keeps telling me I've GOT to see it. What the hell is a SITCOM doing having CONTINUITY?! And CHARACTER ARCS?! Dammit. The show better have good lj upload comms.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
WELL, FUCK.

You just HAD to go and post this right during the time that the rest of my flist is going nuts about it, at the same time the everyone I know here keeps telling me I've GOT to see it.

Heeee. People have been telling me I've GOT to see it for aaaaages. But now is the time!

What the hell is a SITCOM doing having CONTINUITY?! And CHARACTER ARCS?!
Hey, Friends did it!

The show better have good lj upload comms.
There's a post in the comm devoted to TV uploads in general.
[User Picture]
From:sneaker328
Date:May 15th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yeah, I think this is going to be by next show to catch up on. I actually watched the pilot when it aired and was not even remotely impressed, but too many people whose taste I share seem to be really into it now.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 15th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The pilot felt really sitcom-y to me, but I could see some potential in the style and the characters. It takes a few episodes to really get going. People have noted episodes 5 and 8 as potential points where the show takes off. Those are both good episodes, but it took till episode 13 for me to fall in mad love. Although I was kind of addicted before then. It's very addictive. Let me know how it goes! Start a thread at Glumpish or something if you want.

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com