Join 3,425 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I'm Not Ready For This
January 5, 2011 1:10 AM   Subscribe

Monday, 1/3/11's episode of How I Met Your Mother, "Bad News," has caused a bit of a stir.

*SPOILERS*

In most respects, the episode was pretty standard for the sit-com, which features jumps and flashbacks aplenty in a tale told by a sometimes unreliable narrator. What made this episode so highly divisive was the death of one of the lead's parents, and the way it was led up to by an odd sort of background countdown clock, a device apparently inspired by Drowning by Numbers. Series Creator Carter Bays claims that the entire season is built around the final moment of this episode.
posted by Navelgazer (83 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Something about beans and plates. I think the critics are expecting too much out of a sitcom, and at that one that has instilled "The Bro Code" into our collective consiciousness.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:30 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


How I Met Your Mother has always been a kind of harsh show. Every one of the characters has lost and given up the things that mattered to them most.
posted by Nothing at 1:48 AM on January 5, 2011


This show is scripted, right?
posted by iamkimiam at 1:53 AM on January 5, 2011


I'm surprised this is generating any kind of conversation other than "wow, didn't see that coming!", let alone divisiveness. Lots of sitcoms have gone the route of UNEXPECTED SERIOUS MOMENT IS UNEXPECTED, without much brouhaha afterward.

Weird.

(I liked it, btw.)
posted by tzikeh at 2:13 AM on January 5, 2011


I think "divisive," for this, is a strong word. My sense has been that Donna Bowman's linked A.V. Club review very much reflects the reaction I saw from a lot of folks, which was sort of, "Huh? The countdown was an interesting idea to play with, and Jason Segel did a nice job at the very end, but the whole thing didn't really jell."

It's been a discussion, but to me, it doesn't look anything like the genuinely divisive dust-ups that have followed certain episodes of obvious (Lost) and less obvious (Chuck) other shows. I actually think there's significant agreement on the basic points that (1) the countdown was interesting but wound up seeming a little pointless, (2) the ending was powerful but seemed a little tacked-on, and (3) much will depend on what happens next and where they're going with this.

What I take away from this is that there are so many people writing episode summaries/reactions now (and even more people commenting on them) that almost every noteworthy episode is arguably divisive, because you can link a review that really dug it and one that didn't. Seriously, you could get people to argue over Too Close For Comfort. People love fighting over something as discrete and manageable as an episode of television.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 2:53 AM on January 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Heated, divisive arguments about televised comedy. That's where I'm* a Viking!







*OK, not me. But obviously somebody is.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:30 AM on January 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I watch HIMYM regularly and that ending was a real gut punch, which is what you feel with the sudden death of a family member.

What's raising a fuss is the fact that the countdown felt like it was supposed to be fun. I think people are just annoyed at being toyed with.

While it kinda bugged me too, I give the show credit for finding an original way to engage viewers.
posted by dry white toast at 3:48 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait. There's a show with Alyson Hannigan and Dr. Horrible?

Is this an actually funny show? Or just an industry standard lame joke every two lines with canned laughter?
posted by Harry at 3:51 AM on January 5, 2011


Wow, just watched it online. I don't follow this particular show, but I LOVE it when sitcoms attempt something unusual like this. M*A*S*H stands out in my mind as another show that tried new things like this, and they always blindsided me.
posted by jbickers at 3:58 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this an actually funny show? Or just an industry standard lame joke every two lines with canned laughter?

It's an actually funny show.
posted by headnsouth at 4:17 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this an actually funny show? Or just an industry standard lame joke every two lines with canned laughter?

I chuckled along with it until the Slapsgiving episode. Ever since then, I've been guffawing along with it.
posted by NoMich at 4:22 AM on January 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Its a good show, at times the best sitcom on tv - Segel, Hannigan and Patrick-Harris are in their element and the show's writers are smart enough to play with narrative structures to add to the show.
posted by oliyoung at 4:26 AM on January 5, 2011


HIMYM is a great show, though I would say its peak was probably season 2. It's been very good for the most part since then too, though last season (5) is rightly seen as a bit weaker. This season has mostly been a return to form. I rather liked this week's ep though I can understand why people don't. Somebody on my FB actually said he's not going to watch the show anymore.

I do think at some point the creators need to figure out a definite end point for the show, like Lost. I don't really care that much about the central mystery per se, but stretching the concept too far can lead to dilution.

Still, I'd say it's one of TV's great sitcoms, and even now it's one of my favorite comedies on the air, along with Community, Parks and Rec, and Cougar Town. (Yes, I know, but it's actually really good now and doesn't have much of anything to do with the horrible title.)
posted by kmz at 4:38 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this an actually funny show? Or just an industry standard lame joke every two lines with canned laughter?

The latter. See also: Big Bang Theory, which is the same with a nerd theme pasted on.
posted by mippy at 4:52 AM on January 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


animated GIF form

Yeah, I've been of several minds of the recent seasons of this show. At the end of s5 I kind of felt that the show had run out of steam and was just turning into recycled schlock. I'm so over NPH/Barney being a relentless skirt chaser; it feels like that joke has worn itself out. And they tried to give him some depth when they coupled him with Robin for a while, but then that ended and everything went back to normal, which also exhausted all the intra-character couplings so now they have to bring in the Jennifer Morrisons. I really liked her as Cameron but I was not all that thrilled with her as a romantic interest for Ted. And at least in s5 it felt like the Marshal/Lily plots were kind of a snore, and never went anywhere. At least this year with the baby thing and now the death thing there's a chance that they'll be interesting again.

But on the other hand, I really like most of the actors and they do deliver the funny consistently. I like nonlinear storytelling, and I like the constant back-references. So I don't want to come off as complaining or anything.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:06 AM on January 5, 2011


Oh hey, I have an excuse to link this again: NPH and Jason Segel sing Les Mis.
posted by kmz at 5:10 AM on January 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


I do think at some point the creators need to figure out a definite end point for the show, like Lost.

Absolutely agree.
posted by NoMich at 5:12 AM on January 5, 2011


This show has its moments. It's probably the best show currently airing that uses a laugh track.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:14 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, thank you for linking to that Les Mis clip, which I haven't seen in a while. That is one of my favorite endearing celebrity moments of all time.

As for what HIMYM is, it's both a funny show and a fairly conventional broadcast network comedy. (Apologies if that's overly mind-blowing.) It's uneven, like most long-running comedies (including the ones generally considered the best ever), but if you enjoy the cast and find them funny, it will probably entertain you.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:25 AM on January 5, 2011


As one who has all five seasons of the box sets, I am dedicated fan of the show. Each actor is charming in their own way and the screenplay is fresh and witty. I even grown to like Allyson Hannigan's character Lily, even when I first thought she was the weak link in the group.

That being said, I agree with some other posters that the show needs to reach its main point soon: namely, Ted finally meeting the woman of whom the show's title is alluding to. Hopefully they will decide to conclude by next season at the latest, as I fear any longer this beloved show of mine will try to go the way of Scrubs Season 9 (btw, for most fans of Scrubs, does not actually exist :-P. )

My own attitude towards the conclusion of the latest episode is a strange mix of contempt and admiration. I mean, the story writers really threw a curve ball in terms of tone from the rest of the episode, to the point of emotional whiplash, and that's usually a big no-no in sitcoms. However, once again I applaud both Allyson and Jason's performance in keeping it from being a moment of Narm.
posted by Schwartz_User at 5:50 AM on January 5, 2011


Funny, I just watched this on TiVo, and seriously thought, "What a bizarre ending after all those numbers. I'll have to go see if there's anything online about it."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:52 AM on January 5, 2011


Is this something I'd need a clock to understand?
posted by Spatch at 5:52 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this something I'd have to have given up on all potential good I once imagined our species to be capable of to understand?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:08 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


and yet i haven't heard any internet mumblings over the heartbreaking finale to series 4 of Mitchell & Webb...
posted by jtron at 6:21 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this something I'd have to have given up on all potential good I once imagined our species to be capable of to understand?

No, because Neil Patrick Harris is all the good our species is capable of.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:24 AM on January 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is this an actually funny show? Or just an industry standard lame joke every two lines with canned laughter?

It's about on the level of Friends. Anyone who says different either is too much of an internet person (Neil Patrick Harris! Alyson Hannigan! High concept!) or is selling Friends short.
posted by furiousthought at 6:47 AM on January 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's a reasonably funny show. In the context of standard network sitcoms, it's an amazingly funny show.

FWIW, I started crying at the end.
posted by gaspode at 6:49 AM on January 5, 2011


How can they go and kill Dauber?

It's about on the level of Friends.

Pretty much. Once you realize that the two shows have some of the same writers, it's easy to see similarities between the two.
posted by drezdn at 7:03 AM on January 5, 2011


Seriously, you could get people to argue over Too Close For Comfort.

Ted Knight falling backward over the orange foam couch, messing up his hair, and popping back up with a terrified look on his face was a foreshadowing of the senility of Ronald Reagan and the geopolitical crises of the late 1980s.

I think I'm too old to understand/like/appreciate "How I Met Your Mother."

Anyone who says different either is too much of an internet person (Neil Patrick Harris! Alyson Hannigan! High concept!) or is selling Friends short.

"Friends" could be sold short?
posted by blucevalo at 7:06 AM on January 5, 2011


Friends is what it is. The hate for it is mostly down to it being shown on TV every five minutes.
posted by mippy at 7:17 AM on January 5, 2011


And the hype. I couldn't keep watching after the monkey left and it got really big. If only Channel 4 had bought Seinfeld instead, then we wouldn;'t have to all buy box sets to actually watch it and understand half the references on the Blue.
posted by mippy at 7:18 AM on January 5, 2011


Is this something that people whose opinions I respect tell me is really good, but then I see it for myself and I disagree? Or is it the other way around?
posted by box at 7:19 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love this show. Seriously. I realize some of it, especially this season, has been weak... but overall it's easily my favorite sit com.

I thought this episode was pretty good, though honestly I never noticed the numbers. I thought they did an excellent job of reminding us of why Marshall and his dad are awesome... why Marshall and Lily are awesome, and why we love them.

I realized what was happening just before the ending. Definitely teared up a bit and noticed the gf had something in her eye as well. To me, this episode reinforced the feeling that somehow these characters feel like my own friends, after all these years. It's a strange feeling.
posted by utsutsu at 7:28 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer: Monday, 1/3/11's episode of How I Met Your Mother, "Bad News," has caused a bit of a stir.

But...the first of March not only hasn't happened yet it isn't even a Monday!
posted by paisley henosis at 7:29 AM on January 5, 2011


OK this is going to sound silly but one of the reasons I love this show is because of the contrasts between the three guys. One is an absolute slut who cares nothing about women (and he's alone and in a soulless industry), one is a hopeless romantic and tends to put women on pedestals and is constantly pining for something perfect (and he's alone and can't figure out what he wants to be), and one is just a low-key genuine guy who loves his wife and pretty much sees women just like he sees men: fun to be around for a while but he'd rather be hanging out with his BFF (and he's happy w/his family and his wife and is an ethical lawyer). Also Marshall is the only one I've seen who actually works with women, but I don't watch it all that closely.

There's a lot in the media about the pressures teenage girls are in to be hot/sexy/promiscuous/GGG but not so much about the pressures teenage boys face to perform/be cool/not care/lose their virginity or be a loser. My two teenage boys have never had strong male influences so I like that a show can be entertaining and show them that there isn't just one way to be about women/relationships/sex.

Leave it to a mom to take the fun out of Barney's sex jokes.
posted by headnsouth at 7:58 AM on January 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Few sitcoms are perfect, but for my money, HIMYM delivers a funny, enjoyable 22 minutes of television 8 times out of 10.

The Naked Man episode was one of the funniest of any sitcom in the last decade.
posted by dry white toast at 8:22 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


One is an absolute slut who cares nothing about women (and he's alone and in a soulless industry), one is a hopeless romantic and tends to put women on pedestals and is constantly pining for something perfect (and he's alone and can't figure out what he wants to be),

Ah, well, y'see, we get that from Peep Show. Which would make Super Hans the neutral guy.

It's true about the teenage boy thing, though. If you ever get The Inbetweeners over there, they cover that very well - there's one sex scene that's EXCRUCIATING.
posted by mippy at 8:24 AM on January 5, 2011


I was surprised by the reaction to this episode. My friend, who adores the show, was pissed. She felt that the end was out of the blue and made no sense and that it was a cheap trick. She didn't really notice the countdown until it was almost there and then it took her by surprise.

I, on the other hand, noticed the countdown about when it started and assumed that it was counting down to the moment when the gang's life changed. Of course, because of what the episode was about, I figured it would be the moment when Marshall and Lily got pregnant, or found out they permanently couldn't get pregnant. The actual ending was very painful for me, but I still liked it. One of the things that I really like about HIMYM is that it deals with the shitty without being really maudlin or cheapening it. Marshall's relationship with his dad is one of the most awesome relationships on the show and, whether we like or not, at some point he was going to have to deal with his father's death.

Then again, I think the show is all about growing up and becoming a real adult, not just somebody who's old enough to drink and pays taxes. I really like the idea that it's not the cliche of having a baby that makes you face adulthood or getting into an adult relationship, but the loss of a supportive and loving parent that knocks the youth legs from under. Or at least I hope that's the direction they are going in. It would be very interesting to see how Marshall retains his "Marshall-ness" now that he doesn't have his dad.
posted by teleri025 at 8:25 AM on January 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I must fail at TV watching, because I didn't notice the countdown at all.

In my defense though, nearly every scene had either the adorable Alyson Hannigan, the brilliant Neil Patrick Harris, or Robin Sparkles dancing to the '80s to completely distract me from everything else going on.

Still, the ending was unexpected and made powerful by earnest performances from Hannigan and Segel who seemed very genuine in the scene.

It really is a very good program.
posted by quin at 8:27 AM on January 5, 2011


All the numbers in animated .gif form
posted by Sparx at 8:31 AM on January 5, 2011


My friend, who adores the show, was pissed. She felt that the end was out of the blue and made no sense and that it was a cheap trick.

That's exactly how it felt when my dad died. That's what made it work on the show (where "work" means you feel cheated, blindsided, suckerpunched). Out of the fucking clear blue sky. 24 years ago and it still feels that way.
posted by headnsouth at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2011 [21 favorites]


I remember when thirtysomething was on the air, and they had the episode where Michael's father dies. The producers of the show wanted it to be as much a surprise for the audience as it was for the characters, so they went so far as to put a fake plot summary in that week's TV Guide.

They also made another death in the show a complete surprise a season or two later.

Both of those instances were pretty shocking for me, watching the series in first-run.

I think it's kind of neat when television shows get you involved enough with the characters that events in their "lives" can be emotionally affecting in ways like that. Or like in this instance.

How big a character was the mother who died in HIMYM? Was she a regular on the show, or a sometimes character, or just someone who appeared for a few episodes to set up this death?
posted by hippybear at 8:47 AM on January 5, 2011


That's exactly how it felt when my dad died. That's what made it work on the show (where "work" means you feel cheated, blindsided, suckerpunched). Out of the fucking clear blue sky. 24 years ago and it still feels that way.

Which is precisely why it worked. I sort of noticed the countdown while watching but it wasn't until after I read the AV Club recap that I understood why there was a countdown (to be fair, some of them were painfully obvious to the point where it looked stupid). But yeah, I wasn't expecting Marshall's dad's death at all. And Segal and Hannigan knocked it out of the park with the last few minutes of the show. I don't really get all the haterade about the death or the countdown because this episode shows how sometimes life really works. It isn't all making jokes and drinking beers with your buddies, it isn't all about dating and looking for the perfect girl. It is sometimes about cruel surprises and heartbreak you didn't expect.

Oh, and Marshall crying "I'm not ready for this"?

Killed me because I would feel the same.
posted by Kitteh at 8:48 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this the kind of social discussion people in the recent TV-less 2.5 yr old askme are talking about? If so, wow. Missing out on this kind of thing is something I can't be thankful enough for.
posted by odinsdream at 9:04 AM on January 5, 2011


How big a character was the mother who died in HIMYM? Was she a regular on the show, or a sometimes character, or just someone who appeared for a few episodes to set up this death?

It was Marshall's father, and he's been a recurring occasional character since the show's first season, seen (or heard) at least a few times each year.

I think one of the points of resistance to this episode was that unlike shows like MASH or Scrubs, where death is a constant factor along with the humor, HIMYM hasn't delved this deep before. As I said, I didn't mind and I think the show can deal with all this quite well the rest of the season, but I can understand those who were upset.
posted by kmz at 9:04 AM on January 5, 2011


Hippybear, it was Marshall's dad that died. The character wasn't a regular, more of a guest star from time to time, but Marshall often mentioned how he talked to his dad a lot and always called him first with good news. In fact, it's been mentioned by the other characters that they think Marshall's relationship with his dad is "weird" because they are so close.

This was a really pivotal moment for the show, and it hit me like the death of Buffy's mother. It really shocked and hurt me. And as a daddy's girl in her mid-thirties, it is particularly hard because I'm starting to realize that the time I have left with my parents is most likely less than I'd like. There's a good bit of subtle sadness in the show that seems to be on the surface filled with the funny, but this direction is far less subtle than anything before. But I still like it.
posted by teleri025 at 9:16 AM on January 5, 2011


As someone who noticed a few prominently places numbers but didn't make the connection to "countdown" until she read this post -- well, now I feel like kind of an idiot.

Although judging from the reviews, I guess my idiocy also allowed me to better enjoy the episode?

HIMYM has been on probation with me for a couple of seasons, now. I've suspected for months that the end of this season would determine whether or not I pick it up against next year, and now I'm certain of it. I hope the death of Marshall's father proves to be a catalyst that pushes the rest of the story along, particularly with regards to Ted.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:19 AM on January 5, 2011


Ha, just saw a funny comment about this on another forum: (which you'll only get if you've seen previous eps involving Marshall's family)
That's what you get for eating all those Eriksen family salads with mayonnaise.
posted by kmz at 9:43 AM on January 5, 2011


I noticed the numbers immediately and was annoyed with them throughout the episode, and even more annoyed that they used a cheap gimmick to lead up to such abrupt bad news.

Reading through the comments here though, especially headnsouth, I realized that the news was supposed to be shocking and abrupt so that we would feel what Marshall felt.

Now I am just annoyed that a show that usually makes me laugh made me cry this time.
posted by elvissa at 9:46 AM on January 5, 2011


I caught on to the countdown early on in the episode, rewinding it to point it out to my boyfriend. He thought I was a genius for figuring it out, and hoped there would be some sort of prize, perhaps through an internet site of some sort. There wasn't, and since almost everyone in the entire world noticed the countdown, I am apparently not a genius anymore.

And I originally hated the episode (but I'm admitting to small tears), mainly because we were so distracted by finding the numbers that the end sort of sucker-punched us and took away all our fun good times. But after thinking about it, I realized that's probably exactly what your parent's sudden death will do to you. In that sense, I think the episode was perfect.
posted by kerning at 9:52 AM on January 5, 2011


Is this the kind of social discussion people in the recent TV-less 2.5 yr old askme are talking about? If so, wow. Missing out on this kind of thing is something I can't be thankful enough for.
posted by odinsdream


Did you REALLY just pull the bit where you come into a thread about a TV show to talk about how you awesomely don't watch TV?

*golf clap*
posted by Windigo at 9:52 AM on January 5, 2011 [45 favorites]


Now I am just annoyed that a show that usually makes me laugh made me cry this time.

I've been watching the TV Land weekday hour of All In The Family for a while now, having seen it all in first-run when I was a wee lad, and now am revisiting it again as an adult.

Damn, if they don't make television like that anymore. Most episodes have a HUGE swing between humor and sorrow, often within a sentence or two, often MANY times in a single episode. All the while tackling major social issues such as racial equality, gender equality, homosexuality, politics, social programs, drug and alcohol use and abuse.... I'm stunned almost every day with what I'm seeing happen on a supposed "situation comedy".

We could use modern sitcoms with the kind of depth and breadth of All In The Family.
posted by hippybear at 10:07 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, the slow golf clap.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:08 AM on January 5, 2011


"Friends" could be sold short?

It's generally featherweight, but while I wasn't a regular viewer it was reliably funny and soothing to watch when you're worn down and don't want to think. Think of it as... sitcomford food.
posted by kittyprecious at 10:18 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love How I Met Your Mother. It's not quite Arrested Development in terms of zany greatness, but there are more than its fair share of laugh-out-loud moments through and through. I agree that season five was a bit slow, but season six has been VERY funny (though the guest episodes with what's-her-name have been hit or miss) and the story arcs are intelligent and fun.

To those saying that they need to wrap this up, it's my understanding that they've had a plan to have everything revealed by season 7 all along, and I don't think they plan on going much past that with the show. They've been pretty darn consistent with flashbacks and character development (though one glaring flaw for me was Barney's incredible fear of driving the Fiero turning into Barney's challenge to sweet-talk his way out of a ticket...) and they keep bringing the funny.

I really appreciate that so much of what they do is more direct, sudden, and surprising than I come to expect from the "safer" sitcoms. The Slap Bet was brilliant, Robin Sparkles, (and especially the actual episode of her show. holy shit) and the acting from NPH and Jason Segel especially is top notch.

I think the sucker punch was a good way to go, though it did catch my girlfriend who lost her father in June unexpected, to cry quite a bit. I would have even preferred if they didn't name the episode "Bad News", since I saw that on my TiVo first. (Didn't read the description, but still.)

Reading Carter's perspective on it, I think yeah, this is something people deal with, and it happens suddenly sometimes, and there's depth and emotion associated with it. It's good territory to explore, and I'm excited to see what they do with it.

We've been so exposed to TV that it's hard for anything at all to surprise us. We can predict the jokes before they're said. Keeping things original like this is what makes it worth watching, and what gives the characters real depth.
posted by disillusioned at 10:20 AM on January 5, 2011


NoMich: "I do think at some point the creators need to figure out a definite end point for the show, like Lost.

Absolutely agree
"

now, I've never watched the show, but how does a show whose central premise is a question not find its definite endpoint in the answer to that question?

Of course, I'm also of the opinion that the US version of the Office blew right past its natural endpoint (the marriage of Jim and Pam), so what do I know?
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:20 AM on January 5, 2011


Someone who watches both compare HIMYM with Community for me. Because I love Community like a high school sweetheart and have seen maybe one episode of HIMYM. Also I'm lazy.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course, I'm also of the opinion that the US version of the Office blew right past its natural endpoint (the marriage of Jim and Pam), so what do I know?

Oh, no no no no no. The natural endpoint for the US Office is when Michael Scott leaves and Jim takes his place as manager, and we realize that Jim has slowly been turning into Michael (wants everyone to think he's funny, doesn't take his job very seriously, etc) and then the last episode is a copy of the pilot but with Jim in Michael's place.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:29 AM on January 5, 2011 [33 favorites]


Someone who watches both compare HIMYM with Community for me. Because I love Community like a high school sweetheart and have seen maybe one episode of HIMYM. Also I'm lazy.

As I mention upthread, I don't follow HIMYM regularly, but have seen it several times, across all seasons. I am a Community fanboy - it is probably my favorite thing on television.

The two shows, both excellent, could not be more different. HIMYM is more of a traditional sitcom that takes chances (I would liken it to MASH or All in the Family), while Community is an amazing eight-headed hydra of awesomeness that masquerades as a sitcom (I would liken it to Arrested Development).

Not perfect analogies by any means but I think they're close. Both shows are worth watching, IMO.
posted by jbickers at 10:33 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I guess I've mentioned this idea before)
posted by shakespeherian at 10:40 AM on January 5, 2011


I just think the episode didn't go far enough, given that they didn't kill off the rest of the cast as well. Then again, I got through Cloverfield by imagining it was the cast of Friends getting eaten.
posted by happyroach at 10:41 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someone who watches both compare HIMYM with Community for me. Because I love Community like a high school sweetheart and have seen maybe one episode of HIMYM. Also I'm lazy.

I love Community but if I had to exist in a world where one or the other show didn't exist, I'd have to give up Community. Part of it I guess is that I've already spent so much time with Ted and Lily and Marshall and Robin and Barney. And there's many episodes of HIMYM that I would put up there with "Modern Warfare" or the zombie Halloween ep in terms of sheer insane hilarity. There's also much stronger character and plot arcs on HIMYM than Community, at least thus far. I'm hoping Community gets better in that respect soon.
posted by kmz at 10:48 AM on January 5, 2011


I'm a huge fan of HIMYM. I thought that parts of the show for the past year (end of last season and beginning of this one) had gotten a little preachy and had a tone of, "Well, look what we've learned about life today, children!", but I think it's gotten a lot better in recent weeks.

Moreover, I actually really enjoy when shows that are "comedies" take risks and address serious stuff. I thought Scrubs early on did a good job of this; it was a show that was, on it's face, a zany comedy, but also was touching and thought-provoking at times. All of this, of course, made its gruesome final season all the more painful.

However (and you know there was going to be a "however"), coming back to HIMYM, I really thought the countdown thing was really gimmicky. Part of it was how they made sure that every number was self-consciously displayed to the camera and part of this was just the countdown itself. As one of the reviews said, it took what was a really serious, gutsy, interesting plot twist and reduced it to a gimmick.

That said, I actually really respect HIMYM for taking a risk like this. It was a total sucker-punch at the end of what was a funny, engaging, sweet, interesting episode. It added some depth, was believable, and didn't try to sugar-coat the pain. I just wish that they hadn't attached this bizarre gimmick to it.
posted by Betelgeuse at 10:48 AM on January 5, 2011


It's no Full House.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:42 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


My father is 70. This episode fucking hurt.

Someone mentioned community, which I absolutely adore, but the two are radically different not just in dialogue and story structure, but primarily in the characters situations:

HIMYM's Ted Mosby is young man with wide eyed idealism and optimism. Him and his friends are on a grand adventure into adulthood, using the exciting and seemingly infinite New York City as an ever expanding metaphor for all the possibilities, good and bad, that their years together have to offer. Also, the show is told in a "Wonder Years" flashback retelling, from a man who's lived a good life and is also Bob Saget.

Community's Jeff Winger is in purgatory. He used to be Barney: cunning, slick and powerful, a life of opulence and fancy suits, before his fall from grace. He's a huge fish in a very small pond out in Middle of Nowhere, Colorado. His study group has rays of hope from young "Teds" like Troy and Abed, but the rest of them are there because they did something "wrong". The grand adventure that Ted and pals live and love through has ended poorly. Where a content Ted Mosby tells his lovely children about his journeys, going from nervous romantic boy to the great man he'd (presumably given the narrative) become, Jeff Winger is a fallen angel, a disgraced alpha languishing in community college to fulfill a technicality, being forced to come to terms with who he is.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:44 AM on January 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Er, that should read

The grand adventure that Ted and pals live and love through is one that has ended poorly for Jeff.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:45 AM on January 5, 2011


Oh, no no no no no. The natural endpoint for the US Office is when Michael Scott leaves and Jim takes his place as manager, and we realize that Jim has slowly been turning into Michael (wants everyone to think he's funny, doesn't take his job very seriously, etc) and then the last episode is a copy of the pilot but with Jim in Michael's place.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:29 AM on January 6 [8 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]


YES YES YES A BILLION TIMES YES. I'm glad someone else sees this.
posted by gc at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, no no no no no. The natural endpoint for the US Office is when Michael Scott leaves and Jim takes his place as manager ...

Oh, no no no no no. The natural endpoint for the US Office is when Michael Scott leaves, and David Brent takes his place.

Also, I gotta hate. This is a pretty bad post for MF. From the comments I read (here and elsewhere), most fans loved the episode.

Take it to the TVWP forums.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:56 AM on January 5, 2011


I thought the episode was pretty cool. I have meant to start watching the series, but I have a distinct OCD aspect that makes it impossible for me to watch a series without starting out from the very beginning. I have the lucky trait of usually finding out MeFi buzz gets my interest, so I broke the rule to stream this.

I caught the countdown right off, but found myself interested in being unsure as to where they were going with it.

The end of the episode was very well done, I thought, and especially hit hard as my almost 70 year old father was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma, and we are on tenterhooks waiting to find out if it has spread to the lymph nodes or not. I have been making an especial effort to try and spend time with him, even if it is just sitting in the same room with him, while he does his grading and teaches his online classes while I just tap at my netbook, just to avoid something like that.

I lost my stepfather a few years ago, due to respiratory complications to his ongoing battle with leukemia, and it was especially rough after going through his survival of testicular cancer.

I am just very happy I finally started telling him I loved him whenever we talked on the phone before his passing, as we had always had a strong, but not particularly demonstrative, relationship, and he had an amazingly patient and strong influence on me (including introducing me to these electronic tabulators).
posted by Samizdata at 12:54 PM on January 5, 2011


(P.S. I thought this was a great post as it introduced me to something I wouldn't have pursued otherwise. And THAT is why I have been on the Blue for all these years.)
posted by Samizdata at 12:56 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Community is a far superior show to HIMYM. For one thing it lacks the dated laugh track and restrictive multi-camera setup, and it doesn't rely so much on worn out sitcom tropes like "male lead hits on attractive woman, fails in amusing way." It also doesn't have the tone of a show that feels like it has been thoroughly vetted by a network Standards and Practices department. Of course the reason HIMYM has that tone is because it's ostensibly a father talking to his kids, but if you're going to hang your hat on that narrative device you have to be prepared to accept the consequences. Community takes the idea of metacommentary about television-watching to a level that few shows achieve, and its characters seem a lot more vivid and diverse than a tired rehashing of Friends-esque "NYC white people".

Part of the reason I feel that way is because HIMYM has had 5.5 seasons to entertain me and it sort of feels like they've said all they have to say, not to mention the annoyance of being strung along since episode 1 with the idea that we're going to actually meet this mother character before the heat death of the universe. Community on the other hand has only had 1.5 seasons and feels like it's continually finding new and fresh stories to tell. Sadly, Community probably won't get the opportunity to jump the shark as its ratings have not been stellar and it's probably not going to see another season, while lesser shows will plod along seemingly forever.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:16 PM on January 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


As soon as I realized the dad was dead, I knew it was a heart attack, because that's how TV midwesterners inevitably die. It must be all the cheese we eat. (And yes, I cried.)

FWIW, laugh-track askers, I've read the show is recorded without an audience but played in front of one and the actual audience reaction laughter is recorded. I don't find it as intrusive as a typical live-audience sitcom or a canned laugh track ... I think since it's natural reactions from people who are naturally reacting TO WATCHING TELEVISION. So they're not laughing for ten minutes at something that for them is live-action but for you is excruciatingly frozen on screen while the laugh plays.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2011


FWIW, laugh-track askers, I've read the show is recorded without an audience but played in front of one and the actual audience reaction laughter is recorded. I don't find it as intrusive as a typical live-audience sitcom or a canned laugh track ... I think since it's natural reactions from people who are naturally reacting TO WATCHING TELEVISION. So they're not laughing for ten minutes at something that for them is live-action but for you is excruciatingly frozen on screen while the laugh plays.

Going back to my earlier comment about All In The Family, at some point during its run, that show switched from being "filmed before a live studio audience" (as Rob Reiner's voice would announce over the end credits) to being "filmed and the played for a studio audience for reactions".

I think this happened around the same time that it stopped being a one-set show into having many different sets (bedroom, bar, etc).
posted by hippybear at 1:31 PM on January 5, 2011


Someone who watches both compare HIMYM with Community for me.

HIMYM : Community :: Kanye West : Jay-Z
posted by trunk muffins at 3:43 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


M-O-O-N ! That spells Marshall's dead dad!
Okay, I'm spoiled now but will bawl my eyes out anyway when I watch.
posted by Jazz Hands at 3:49 PM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's generally featherweight, but while I wasn't a regular viewer it was reliably funny and soothing to watch when you're worn down and don't want to think. Think of it as... sitcomford food.

And that is pretty much what I meant by the Friends comparison – How I Met Your Mother is a very standard, reasonably-well-executed sitcom with a bunch of basically likeable (if, this time, less broadly-drawn) characters being amusing with each other, grabbing a demographic, and not generally having a lot of surprises... this episode being one of the exceptions apparently.

Community is a totally different animal, from what little I've seen of it.
posted by furiousthought at 3:54 PM on January 5, 2011



HIMYM : Community :: Kanye West : Jay-Z


This is an awful analogy. I don't particularly have a better one but, really, this is so wrong, the opposite is almost true.
posted by saul wright at 4:17 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just watched this, and I wish I hadn't seen the spoiler first, because my reaction isn't really an honest one, pretty irrelevant to the discussion.

But also it's the first episode I've EVER seen. Funny thing, but every CBS comedy going back to Raymond has looked the same to me, and I find myself repulsed by them. I can't explain it, and I mean no offense to fans of these shows, because it's not really logical. But I gravitate to NBC (where Community is indeed my favorite thing on television. ABC's Modern Family is pretty good, too.)

Someone mentioned All in the Family, but it's a bit different -- the best episodes of that series used humour, sometimes very silly humour, to take the edge off a serious situation.
posted by evilcolonel at 4:28 PM on January 5, 2011


That's exactly how it felt when my dad died. That's what made it work on the show (where "work" means you feel cheated, blindsided, suckerpunched).

My father died just a few days after I got my PhD. I actually threw the phone in anger when I hung up. I'm actually kind of glad I saw this before watching the episode, because I don't think I want to feel like I did that night because of a TV show.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:30 PM on January 5, 2011


Or just an industry standard lame joke every two lines with canned laughter?

Actually, this is one thing I've noticed about HIMYM. It technically has a laugh track, but it's so subdued that I don't even notice it most of the time. It's like the writers are saying, "Yeah, we have a laugh track. We agree it's cheesy, but the network execs said we had to have one, so..." It fits in with their theme of subverting three-camera laugh-track sitcom tropes.

That said, Community > HIMYM. Compare Community's "death of a main character's loved one" episode to this one, particularly The Countdown Vs. Abed in the background helping a classmate in labor. Both (I think) fit well in the story, especially in retrospect, but The Countdown had a few rather jarring moments (like #36, and #9/#6), whereas the Abed scenes seemed to flow better.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:39 PM on January 5, 2011


It's no Full House.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:42 PM on January 5 [1 favorite +] [!]


But "Future" Ted IS voiced by Bob Saget...

wait...

Full House
Episode 1: How I Met Your Menace

"Kids, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away..."
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:33 AM on January 6, 2011


HIMYM : Community :: Kanye West : Jay-Z

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this one, but I'd love to see some more sitcom/rapper analogies.
posted by box at 6:16 AM on January 6, 2011


Ok, now we're talking about HIMYM, Community AND rap music. These are the conversations that normal people won't let me have, but again, this is why I love MeFi.

Drawing on a past rapper feud, I would offer this:

HIMYM : Community :: LL Cool J : Canibus

I'll begin by saying HIMYM isn't as important to the roots of the sitcom genre as LL is/was, but aside from that, he's always been a skilled but dependable rapper, who shows his lighthearded nature through his lyrics. Sure there's a lot of schmaltz (his forgettable "Mr. Smith" album comes to mind) and a lot of poppy stuff that "sophisticated" fans might turn their nose up at. However, while you're bouncing to the fun, sometimes he hits, he hits hard and others he will reduce you to tears. In both cases, many will argue that his popularity is deserved, and others will say it's disproportionate or undeserved. Either way, they're not going anywhere.

Canibus is excellent, but is a bit more of an accquired taste for most listeners. while LL's songs tend to be straight forward, as HIMYM's plots tend towards being linear and character driven, Canibus goes in a completely other direction, with the same unconventional flare that Community approaches the standard sitcom format. Both will attempt to flirt with mainstream success, but seem more at home when left to their own devices, to tell stories in the format best suited to them (the linked song is an 11 minute unbroken rap with no hook that covers any number of topics from the military to HP Lovecraft)

And like HIMYM still enjoys top ratings, whereas Community fans wonder if their beloved show will be iced by next season, Canibus is a far better lyricist, despite record sales telling people that LL "won" their rap beef some years ago.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:38 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


« Older The Dubai Job:...  |  The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments