How I Wrote About Your Show
7 February 2012
by R.A. Porter
So let’s talk about The View.
What? You didn’t think I was going to write about How I Met Your Mother just because the title of this piece clearly implied that, did you? No, no. Titles are contrivances, mere fluffery. They don’t constitute a contract between author and audience.
Just because the show seems to be framed as the first-person narrative of how its nominal protagonist met his children’s mother doesn’t belie the authors’ true intent. And since deconstruction is a passing fad, we’ve got to pay attention to all that stuff external to the text. If Carter Bays and Craig Thomas say HIMYM is a show about five friends on the cusp of delayed-onset adulthood that only tangentially concerns the romantic journey of one of them, then clearly that’s the way it is. You’re wrong. Each and every single one of you.
It’s hard to remember, but there was a time when Ted Evelyn Mosby was likable. He fucking made it rain because he was in love; he stole a Smurf penis; he acted the fool in the best possible ways. There were still kids then—a captive audience within the show—for Future Ted to regale and embarrass and annoy with his never-ending tale of meeting their mother.
Now, the kids are an after-thought, Bob Saget’s narration is perfunctory, and Ted’s a raging douche. He passes his days in the classroom next door to Ross Geller and they’re both going to be spending their declining years pursuing ever-more-inappropriate coeds like two Wild and Crazy Guys. Actually, if HIMYM hired Schwimmer and just let him and Josh Radnor go at it in weekly douche-offs, I might be able to muster up some enthusiasm for the show again. As it is…
HIMYM is a show that really needed a finite run. I understand why CBS wants to let it run until Jason Segal can finally get good enough at the fiddle so he can win back his soul and get the fuck outta Dodge,1 but Bays and Thomas and the cast and Les Moonves and Fox should all have sat down at the end of the first season and laid out a plan: four seasons and just enough episodes to hit the syndication sweet-spot2 and still finish strong.
We would have been saved from Douche Ted.3 We would have been saved from the ham-handed cock up that was Barney and Robin 1.4 We’d have been saved from what I can only imagine will be a smug Barney and Robin 2.5 We’d have been saved from what I fear is coming this sweeps month as the other leg in that infernal triangle goes hot again.6
Look: based on the ages of the kids and the fact that Future Ted is telling the story in 2030, the show’s got about one year for Ted to meet the mother and knock her up. And yet…we continue swirling down the drain with misguided stories and diminishing returns.
This week’s episode used Marshall and Lily’s housewarming party as a backdrop and it was stilted, tired, and uninspired. A perfunctory narrative device split the storytelling into three separate segments that were supposed to cleverly mesh together in the end. But I just didn’t care. I didn’t care how Ed Grimley ended up in the beekeeper’s suit, I didn’t care about Barney and his crazy cat castrator,7 and I certainly didn’t give a shit about the cheese. All this boring half-hour did was make me nostalgic for the sweet simplicity of “Works with Carlos Girl”.8
HIMYM was the first show I ever wrote a spec script for. I used to truly love it. I wish I could say that I love what it is now.
I want to meet the mother. I want to want to meet the mother. I’m just not sure how much more of this show I can put up with to do so.R.A. Porter is an aspiring television writer who currently toils away in the software mines. He can be found at Sketch War, Tumblr, and stalked on Twitter.
- Look, I’m still working out the kinks in these writing muscles. Give me another week and that joke’ll be tight as the E-string on Les Moonves’ gold fiddle. [↩]
- And cake. I hear you get cake for 100. [↩]
- Also Louche Ted and next Christmas’s must-have toy, Koosh Ted. [↩]
- Not from their pairing; that was sublime thanks to the great chemistry between NPH and Cobie Smulders. I’m of course talking about the idiotic and inorganic way the writers tore them asunder because they didn’t know how to write them together. [↩]
- Oh no, viewers. We didn’t re-couple them because that’s what you wanted; we always intended to put them together in the end. [↩]
- I have no inside knowledge. I just have a bad feeling. Or good, I guess. That would free up 30 minutes a week for me. [↩]
- How clever. The crazy cat lady lopped off some dude’s pecker because he missed her cat’s bris. They’ve put some sixth-graders on the writing staff, I see. [↩]
- Fortunately, Beth is doing just great and Leverage hasn’t lost any of its mojo yet. [↩]