One of the things I’ve always enjoyed most about “How I Met Your Mother” is the interweaving of high-quality one-liners with real, sometimes emotional content.
It’s a credit to both the show’s writers and actors that “How I Met Your Mother” pulls off such a combination so well and so often.
I know, almost every comedy dabbles in emotion at some point; it’s a necessary part of storytelling, of creating an arc, and of keeping viewers engaged.
But “How I Met Your Mother” doesn’t do it as a schtick, and the show doesn’t do it halfway, either. Dramatic, emotional topics and scenes are a regular part of HIMYM, and a big part of why I continue watching.
And speaking of continuing, I should note that if you’re not caught up on Season 6 of “How I Met Your Mother,” specifically episodes 13 and 14 (“Bad News” and “Last Words”), you might want to stop reading now. At the very least, be forewarned that spoiler material lies ahead.
By now, in it’s sixth full season, we’ve seen what creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas – also HIMYM’s primary writers – can do. Their comedic content for Neil Patrick Harris’ Barney Stinson is genius on its own (and has, in fact, spawned at least three books). And Bays and Thomas are, undoubtedly, blessed with fantastic actor throughout the show’s top-billed cast members – Harris, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan and Josh Radnor.
But if I had to pick one thing that keeps me coming back to HIMYM it’s this: the show remains grounded.
In the midst of all that can tend to feel, well, unrealistic about traditional sitcoms – the two or three stock sets, the constant joking, close-knit groups of friends who spend inordinate amounts of time together – HIMYM manages to keep one foot in reality at all times by delivering real-world content that sometimes hits close to home.
Marshall and Lily, played by Segel and Hannigan, had already been dealing with some reality of their own, with the ongoing storyline about the couple’s efforts to have children. But in case that wasn’t enough reality for you, as a viewer, Bays and Thomas slapped us across the face with a big dose of the stuff at the end of “Bad News,” the 13th episode of Season 6, with the revelation that, shortly after we’ve seen just him on screen, Marshall’s father has died.
The scene – which came at the end of the episode, just after a moment of jubilation for Marshall – was completely unexpected for me, which made it all the more effective. It was heart-wrenching, silence-inducing, jaw-dropping (and a few other clichés, too, I’m sure). Segel and Hannigan nailed the scene, making me feel the reality of Marshall’s loss after Lily tells him his father has died. As the screen begins to fade out, he sobs “I’m not ready for this,” and I choked up a bit. The emotion that Segel and Hannigan conveyed must have required them to go to difficult places as actors, and I applaud them for pulling it off so well.
The subsequent episode, “Last Words,” was deep and emotional, as well, although lacking the shock value of that final scene of “Bad News.” The gang is gathered at Marshall’s mother’s place for his father’s funeral, and while there is some comedy to keep things light, Marshall’s grief feels very real, and is very well-portrayed.
The reality of such topics, and the consistent acting and writing “How I Met Your Mother” brings to the table in handling them, is just one of the many reasons I continue watching the show.
How I Met Your Mother, CBS
How I Met Your Mother, Yahoo! TV