Someone once told me that if something annoyed you, you should write it down. You know what they say; it get off your chest.
So I’ve decided to do that regarding the US sitcom, How I Met Your Mother.
I only started to watch the show last year on the recommendation of my friend who’d recently discovered it himself.
When I mentioned to others that I’d got into it and was really enjoying it, the overwhelming response was ‘It used to be funny but is pretty tired and old now’. I didn’t see that because in relatively short order I’d watched six whole seasons of the show, amounting to 112 episodes, and to me it was still fresh, interesting and most important of all, funny.
But during the seventh season, things started to slow down. It began to go down the unfortunate road that so many other long running comedy series like the Simpsons, Dads Army, Family Guy or The Office have travelled down in the past; it ran out of good ideas.
The same writers who had done well in the past began to run out of creative juices, the characters repeated their actions so often that they became caricatures, and in a bid to explore new ground they introduced more serious storylines like the death of Marshall’s
father, Barney’s broken heart at the hands of Robin and Robin’s depression at being unable to have kids.
And that was ok, but not great. Season 7 struggled but still had its moments.
Unfortunately, we’re five episodes into Season 8 and things have become critical. I just don’t enjoy watching it anymore, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop now.
A bit like Lost, I feel like I’ve invested so much time into it that I now feel like there has to be a payoff.
So what are the problems?
The first is that the show has backed itself into a corner. Ever since the beginning of the ‘Some ways down the road’ wedding, which was first brought up at the beginning of Season 6, they’ve been marking time until the show finally ends. That is likely going to be the final destination, and making it spread out over something like 70 more episodes has been tough.
But since the end of Season 7, things have gotten even worse. We now know that Robin is getting married to Barney and that Ted meets his wife there, so where is the drama in these characters having relationships with other people?
Similarly, where is the drama in Ted proposing to a woman that we know he isn’t going to marry, and her turning him down because she thinks he’s in love with Robin, and she hopes that one day they will be together? That won’t happen; we know it won’t happen, and therefore there’s nothing for us as viewers to invest in.
And the show seems to know that that’s the case, because it keeps hinting at finally wrapping the saga up, but then dashes our hopes with lines like “But we’ll get to that later. Instead kids, let’s talk about the time Barney was served a glass of Pepsi instead of Coke”.
If this show was an elastic band, then it would be as close as possible to snapping.
That might be ok if the scripts were still funny. If the hypothetical plot I outline above still had plenty of funny situations and dialogue then that would be fine.
It’s Just Not Funny Anymore
But sadly the show just isn’t funny anymore. Indeed, I haven’t laughed even once during this season, and because of that, the ridiculous canned laughter has made the lack of humour even more noticeable.
The writers have long since run out of ideas to make the characters funny. As I said above, those character – once fresh and interesting – are now caricatures.
Barney – who was given decent character development at one point to stop his ‘Man on the Pull’ routine from coming completely stale – has regressed once again to being as shallow as a puddle. We’ve seen it all before; we’ve seen him rebound from being in a relationship that he enjoyed being in, it’s been done. It doesn’t need done again, and yet it is, and it’s simply not amusing any longer.
The latest episode was about him finding a stray dog and turning it into his ‘Wingman’, complete with him talking to the dog and the dog woofing back with subtitles. Jesus…
Meanwhile Lily and Marshall have been turned into one of those horrible couples that everyone hates. You know the sort; two people who have become a singular gestalt entity without individual hobbies or interests. The sort who consider themselves as being a superior form of life because they think that being in a couple is the only way to be happy, and the sort who act like they are the first two human beings in history to have a baby? Nobody likes couples like that….nobody. If you are one of those couples, I’ve got news for you…even your closest friends now think you are pricks.
But what’s sadder is that all three of the actors who play those characters have noticeably stopped putting in the effort. They don’t look interested anymore, and I understand Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segal and Allyson Hannigan are all keen to move on, so that probably explains it.
And the writers have given more and more time to the horrific Chris Elliot, a cunt so terrible he couldn’t get a laugh in a cupboard with a canister of nitrous oxide.
So There You Have It…
So there you have it.
They’ve run out of plot, they’ve run out of laughs, they’ve turned three very well written & acted characters into caricatures – and bad ones at that – and they’ve hired one of the worst comedy actors I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing.
How I Met Your Mother is marking time to fulfil a required amount of episodes, but no longer has the energy or legs to get there without its audience going off it.
Let’s hope the writers rediscover some kind of spark and find a way to make the remaining episodes interesting and funny.
I wouldn’t hold my breath though.