Monday, March 31, 2014

7 Things: The "How I Met Your Mother" Edition

Tonight is the last episode of "How I Met Your Mother".  HIMYM started with a quirky little premise - guy sits his kids down on the couch for the longest tale ever, and then immediately took advantage of it, by telling the story of how he had this huge crush on this woman, did elaborate things to get her attention, and then revealing, that actually, that was their Aunt Robin. 
Television is generally considered to be telling it's stories in present tense.  Sure, there are exceptions, there are flash forwards, flashbacks, and even sometimes flash sideways.  But HIMYM took advantage of the frame of a guy telling this story years later.  Stories weren't always told in order, often in ways that seemed way more amusing.  (Sometimes not.)  Things were forgotten, like Blah blah's name.  And sometimes he'd give hints of why this piece of information was important. 
The challenge with telling what is theoretically one story (although really is multiple overlapping stories about a group of friends) is that when you hold out this one secret for too long, people have already spun through just about every possible theory ever. It's really hard to maintain suspense or surprise that long and not burn out the goodwill. 
This final season we got to meet the mother.  And has been wonderful.  But the frame of the wedding weekend they used this season has been troubling, to say the least.  In the end, I don't know if tonight's episode will be worth the wait.  Certainly, it will be impossible to make everyone happy.  My hope is that I find it enjoyable, that it provides a lovely endcap to what I still think of as a great show, even if my list of caveats is a little longer now. 
But, here's seven of the great things the show did. 
1. Robin Sparkles.  I mean, really.  See the slap bet part was interesting (sometimes), but the video that was the center of the controversy, was entirely amazing.  Oh.  Let's Go to the Mall, guys. 
2. Lily and Marshall.  There are lots of shows about friends.  There are lots of shows about friends that are partially paired off.  But usually, shows about friends that start off in their twenties have a lot more - well, reconfiguring, even if one couple gets to get back together at the end.  This isn't to say that Lily and Marshall never had problems, never had issues, or even, never broke up.  But ultimately, they belonged together.  And, as Ted said in his toast, their inability to be apart, is actually one of their most endearing traits. 
3. The Canada references. The Canada references were wonderful, well-used, and always done with pride.  (Well, okay, Barney wasn't always respectful, but well, Barney.)
4. Barney's theories.  Many of Barney's theories were, well, nuts.  But some of them, like the Crazy/Hot scale, I think should be permanently entered into the pop culture lexicon.  (PS, the crazy/hot scale indicates that you can only be as crazy as you are hot.  Otherwise. No.)
5. The two minute date.  Ted often gets a lot of flack for being the boring guy, or the sap, and he did have moments, but mostly I found those realistic.  And it was things like two minute date eh put together for Stella that made the upside of his crazy optimistic romanticism clear.
6. The doppelgangers - finding doppelgangers of each member was fun and they tied it in to the bigger picture of the show so that it wasn't just gimmicky.
7. Barney's search for his father.  The "Price is Right" episode was great. But so was Barney's ultimate decision to ask his mother for the real truth.  HIMYM often confronted the realizations that the stories our parents told us weren't quite right, which is a little meta, given we know Future Ted glosses over some things with his kids.