Recurring cast: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders with Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan
Before we begin, I am quite interested in something. What is the best 20 minute American comedy? The top three are Friends, Scrubs and this one. I have always thought Scrubs was the clear winner, but personally How I Met may have beaten them to the title. Leave a comment below.
This season the characters are mainly looking at big changes in their lives. Barney goes through the biggest change out of all of the characters. As Season 7 told us, he is destined to end up marrying (or at least taking to the altar), Robin, despite the season ending with him in a steady relationship with Quinn. Season 8 continues remoulding Barney’s character from the single crazy adventurer into the romantic, love-sick puppy. As for Marshall and Lily, they have now got a baby to look after. This season focuses on them trying to balance their friends and their kids. Also, by the end of the season, the two characters have some life-changing decisions to make, when it comes to their career. And Ted is still looking for the love of his life.
I think that this is an interesting choice from the writers. Usually, Ted spends the series bringing a new girl into the group, who he claims to be ‘the one’. She is usually written off within the episode. This season however, Ted spends it mostly as a single man. With the exception of a return from Victoria and Jeanette, Ted is mostly womanless and becoming more and more cynical of the dating scene. I think this is an important phase in Ted’s life and it is portrayed very well. Also, Josh Radnor shines in the scene where he talks to his future wife in the episode ‘Time Travellers’. It is really well done and shows that when the show wants to dial the emotions up, then it can with expert precision.
The cast, as a whole, did so well, it is hard to comment on them. The five of them have got into a routine, where acting on his show is business as usual. They know these characters better than anyone and give them the perfect portrayal. Usually in a show like this, a character can be corrupted, when a change of writers decides their idea of Marshall is different from the last guy’s, but the characters always seem grounded. It is also impossible to pick a favourite. Every character has their own unique slice of charm that makes them impossible to hate, even when they are being selfish dicks (I am looking at you, Barney!)
I also like how Barney’s character has matured by this season. It was always the main worry of this side of the season. They had this character that for all intents and purposes, was the main attraction of the show with the Playbook and the serial one – night stands. However, now the writers faced the problem of turning Barney into marriage material. It has been clear that they have been trying to bring out other elements in the character, like his insane childishness and his thirst to be the crazy guy on a night out. They have matured Barney and along with it, they have trusted the audiences to mature. Sure, it isn’t a clean break – the season often looks back on some of the best plays Barney has made – but it is nice that the crew have enough faith on us to explore Barney’s character outside of his crazy single life.
The main thing I love about this show is the direction however. This is a great comedy, but it could easily slip into ‘just another sitcom’. However, the scripts are often flawless and I love how the directors often use misdirection in the episode. They will let you think that one thing is happening and then they will reveal that a memory has been corrupted somehow and retell the story. It is often really clever and when it allows you to work Mike Tyson into your series, then I am all for it.
The moment that I realised just how great How I Met Your Mother is when the season began wrapping things up and I had a sudden panic that this was going to be the last season (it’s not, Season 9 has been confirmed). I am caught in this dilemma that I want to find out who the mother is, yet at the same time I acknowledge that the show would have to end once that happens. And in that slight moment where I thought the show was over, I freaked out. I wasn’t ready to stop exploring these characters. They have been with us for so long now that we feel connected to their lives. We want to see how their struggles pan out and we want them to be OK. And when we get worried we might never seem them again, we do a ‘Ted’ and begin to hold on even tighter to the past.
Final verdict: As ever, the show performs admirably. We don’t want it to end.