For Your Consideration: Comedy Series – “How I Met Your Mother”

[As part of Cultural Learnings’ For Your Consideration Emmy Nominations Preview, the next two weeks will feature 7 Drama Series and 7 Comedy Series worthy of Emmy consideration. Check back daily for a different series, with drama and comedy alternating positions. For all of Cultural Learnings’ Emmy Coverage featuring Supporting and Lead Acting candidates, check out our For Your Consideration Index.]

Outstanding Comedy Series

How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

I don’t quite understand why How I Met Your Mother was almost not renewed for a third season this past year. The show’s second season was a bit uneven, but it has a charm and wit that few multi-camera sitcoms can relate to. On a network where its most successful sitcoms star middle-aged men and women, How I Met Your Mother follows twenty-somethings adjusting to life out of college and in the real world. What began as a moderately intriguing premise of figuring out how Ted met his wife has turned into a cohesive and diverse comedy that has been able to exist outside of the cultural radar.

The Office became a cult hit and had a lot of pressure placed on it, Two and a Half Men has the highest ratings and needs to keep them, but How I Met Your Mother didn’t need to prove anything to anyone. It resulted in a lot of fun material and slow builds of storyline that have helped the show in the long run. While the show struggled to live up to its November Sweeps genius, it ended the season with a series of episodes that were both really well made and also incredibly well organized. The show was sadly not voted into the Top 10, which means it can’t be nominated, and that’s a shame: because How I Met Your Mother deserved to meet the Emmy awards this season.

The show put itself in a very interesting predicament heading into its second season, and it needed to resolve these two issues in the right fashion. Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Ted (Josh Radnor) had gotten together, yes, but we as viewers know that they’re not together in the future, which means that they will be breaking up at some point in the future. Also, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) had run off to San Fransisco for an art fellowship, and she and Marshall had split up.

And the way they handled these two issues was why the season got off to a strong and yet different start: Ted and Robin were happy with their share of little problems, while Marshall and Lily slowly but surely drifted back together. The pacing resulted in a few slower episodes, but the amount of time it took for things to “get back to normal” was about right in the end. Any relationship needs time to either develop or to fall apart, and I think each was given sufficient time to do so.

And, perhaps most importantly, the show always had Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) to rely on for the comedy and consistency during this period. Void of much of the relationship drama of the other characters, Barney is able to keep a feeling of consistency and comedy within the series as the storylines swirl around him.

Barney is one of the show’s greatest assets because no matter how much the show throws at him he always remains engaging and egotistical. The entire universe began calling him Swarley, and Barney was clearly frustrated by it, but yet he was back to his normal self the week after. He is a character that is the comic relief within a comedy, and that’s something that Harris and the producers seem to realize.

But the show was smart enough to expand on that with some of Barney’s more emotional moments, such as his time spent with Lily in his apartment as well as his trip to San Francisco to tell her how crushed Marshall was. Sometime they went too far: the episode with Wayne Brady as his gay brother was a bit of a roadblock for Barney, as an example. But then he’d be on the Price is Right, and then everything would be fine again. Barney can have his emotional moments, but he needs to end each episode with an assurance that he will revert back to normal. He is the comic soul of this series, and he has seen it through some rough times.

But the rough times stopped towards the end of the season, when a few choreographed moves brought everything back together. And Marshall and Lily were preparing to be married, there was a moment where Ted and Robin walked into the apartment covered in spaghetti and it was given no real explanation. It was just a random moment, barely even recognized.

But then came the show’s season finale, in which after Marshall and Lily are married (For the second time, after an outdoor ceremony just for friends/family) Robin and Ted have a story to tell. Their story is that they’ve been broken up for weeks, ever since that Spaghetti incident. The way it all came together really showed you how this series has matured into something that has little hints, bits of foreshadowing, and other things that most comedies don’t bother with.

The show’s ratings success has been limited, especially after CBS shafted it out of its rightful post-Super Bowl slot, but the series has soldiered on. With no expectations, it has developed into a comedy series that despite having multiple cameras and a laugh track can stand amongst The Office and 30 Rock as strong examples of a new type of comedy in television. And although it can’t be nominated on July 19th, let’s pretend it is and say that How I Met Your Mother is worthy of Emmy consideration.

Episode Submission: “Slap Bet” (Aired November 20th, 2007)

What is most frustrating about How I Met Your Mother not making the Top 10 is that panelists will not get a chance to see this episode. This episode proved that How I Met Your Mother was capable of being creative and completely committed to that creativity. Not only did it feature the beginning of the Slap Bet that would eventually become a great potential running joke for the series, but it also featured one of the most fantastic things in a comedy all season: Robin Sparkles.

This 90s era Canadian Pop Star (Tiffany: North of the Border Edition, essentially) was portrayed with aplomb by Cobie Smulders, and the amount of time and effort sunk into making her music video is pretty well astounding. This is one of those times when you know that a series is operating on all cylinders: as the episode closes with everyone watching the video and the storylines come to a close, it is funny and charming all at once.

This episode would have gone over like gangbusters in the panels, which is why it is so unfortunate that it won’t get the chance. How I Met Your Mother is one of the best comedies on television, and hopefully its profile will rise soon in order for it to last for many seasons to come. And maybe next year, it might be worthy of Emmy’s consideration after all.

YouTube“Slap Bet”

1 Comment

Filed under Award Shows, Emmy Awards, How I Met Your Mother, Television

One response to “For Your Consideration: Comedy Series – “How I Met Your Mother”

  1. This post may be ancient by your blog’s incredible update schedule, but I had to go back to draw your attention to this new shirt from Glarkware:

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