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A Love Letter to HIMYM

The Proffessor,

How do you begin to say goodbye to a show you love? I was racking my brain trying to decide what to share with everyone this week and I found myself at a loss for words, and while this might not surprise some of my friends (I can be a little quiet in real life), it certainly should come as a shock to those of you who have read my long comments over the years. Until this point, there has always been more to look forward to with the show, but now we have one hour left and I’m left with Ted’s words ringing in my ears – “Love is totally nonsensical! But we have to keep doing it, or else, we’re lost, and, and love is dead and humanity should just pack it in. Because love is the best thing we do. Look, I know that sounds cheesy but it’s just true.”

And so, be warned, this is going to get sappy, and far more personal than I intended (feel free to jump down to the second section of the post if you want to stick to the purely show stuff. I want to situate why I love How I Met Your Mother (you can read it with Bob Saget’s voice in your head if you want, but don’t worry, I won’t take nine years to tell the story) and then expand on that love in several ways.

1. 9 Years Ago, it was way back in 2005

I had just moved across the country to California, to start a Ph.D. program. Like the gang, I was starting a new chapter in my life. I had watched some Doogie Howser when I was younger and while in my master’s program a friend got me hooked on all things Whedon, so when I heard that NPH and Alyson Hannigan were doing a show I was interested and then when I learned the premise of the show, I was even more interested.

In the first season, I would call my former roommate from school and we’d talk about the show; it was something that helped keep us in contact. It wasn’t too long though, before people starting boarding the ark of marriage two by two and I began to worry that I’m going to end up the weird middle aged bachelor everyone’s kids call Uncle Proffessor. I’ve always thought of myself as a Ted, someone who is looking for that special someone, but if I’m being completely honest, I’m really more like a Randy. But there’s something about HIMYM that is relatable and hopeful at the same time. If Ted, Marshall, Barney, Ranjit, James, Tony and many others can find happiness in their romantic relationships, then surely so can I.

So many things in the show resonate with me. Some of them are little: I played the French horn growing up. I love Star Wars (and quoting movies/TV shows with friends). I was in a male a cappella group in college (much cooler than the Shagarats). Ted becoming a professor, me wanting to become a professor (and you better believe I will buy a hat and whip). Friends in California got me into scotch after having not liked it in college.

Some of them are a little more substantial. Like Ted, I over think. Everything. The. Whole. Ti-me. I Ted up and Ted out frequently.

I was in a long distance relationship on and off for two years after college and moving to California was not something she was willing to do, and while it wasn’t an ultimatum, I knew that making that choice meant we wouldn’t be getting back together. But like Ted and Chicago. I always assumed I’d be married by now, and I have to say the fact that I’m still single is really coming down on me like a ton of bricks with the ending of HIMYM. I hope we get to see Ted wrestle with that a little.

Marshall’s reaction when his dad died hit home for me. I haven’t lost my father, but my original advisor and my dad’s brother passed away within a month of each other in the third year of my program, and it really shaped my approach to school. I decided that even though I had been working toward this degree since sophomore year, it couldn’t be the entirety of my life or I’d be burned out when I graduated. So like Ted, it has taken me longer to find my way then I would like, but I really can’t complain. I enjoy the area where I live, I’ve made some good friendships, and I’m hoping to graduate next year and ideally become an actual Professor after that. And although it sometimes feels like I haven’t changed at all, I really am a different person than I was in 2005, and maybe, just maybe, I’m at the right place and right time to meet that special someone.

2. What I love about HIMYM

Ok, that got a little too real; let’s bring it back to the show. HIMYM holds a special place in our hearts. We all have stories of what got us into the show, why we love it. And I’d love to hear some of yours in the comments. I think for me, on top of the personal stuff I’ve already said, HIMYM offers us a variety of things we haven’t seen much in sitcoms before. I’m not surprised that many of us have never followed a show like this before. So I’m going to describe some of the thing I really love about HIMYM and then finish off with a top 10 list (though there’s no way you can craft a single top 10 list, people watch for all kinds of reasons).

Story telling

One of the things I love the most about HIMYM is how they play with storytelling. We have a semi unreliable narrator from the future, there are flash backs and flash forwards (which technically if the show is set in 2030, would still be flash backs but that makes my brain hurt. I prefer to live in the present timeline of the show, well past now that we are still in May 2013, ah make it stop), and different perspectives of the same events that tie together. I’d say many of my favorite episodes involve the quirks of storytelling that are hallmark to HIMYM.

Catchphrases, rules to live by, and running gags

Come on, how many of you have said Legen-wait for it – dary? Raise your hands, it is ok. Now through the internet high five! Did you do it? I can tell when you don’t do it. Oh you want to bet that I can’t tell? Make it a slap bet (no rings). On second thought, I don’t want a major headache (Major Headache, salute) let’s make it a ducky tie bet, only I don’t have a lady friend that can make up the other half of that wager, so how about we forget the bet and remember the golden rule. You know, the one about loving your neighbor, oh wait, Barney had that wrong (I’m shocked) but the Platinum rule is pretty good too. Don’t love your neighbor.

Relax, I’m done with that for now, but I hope that got my point across. There are tons of things about the show to laugh about, cool phrases or dialogue or running gags. The Crazy/Hot Scale, the belt, sandwiches, Robin Sparkles, Slap Bet, Suit up, Big Fudge, high fives, blogs, Have you met Ted, the Naked Man, and I could go on and on. I’ve used some of the phrases with my friends. The structure of the show allows us to play these things out over a greater time period as well.

Comedy with Heart

Yes, HIMYM can make us laugh. I hope you are still smiling from thinking about your favorite parts from the last category, but this show also tugs at our heart strings. It isn’t afraid to get serious. We’ve seen pretty much all of the gang at rock bottom. Ted’s heart has been stomped on numerous times and yet we still want him to succeed. Marshall has been through how many jobs now? And with his dad passing, we are reminded of the things we’ve left unsaid to those who have gone before us. This is what makes the show relatable; the humor is best when it is grounded and it makes us think “I can totally see that happening” and this also allows for the serious things to not pull the viewer outside the show’s universe. Breakups, longing, fear, sadness, and insecurity don’t sound like things that would work in a comedy, and yet, they’ve nailed much of it.

Content generation outside of the show

The show has done a great job of generating content outside of the show as well. Fans don’t need to check them out in order to enjoy the show, but they can enrich the experience for the fans who wish to indulge. I must confess, I read Barney’s blog all the time early on, but I haven’t checked it out in years.

Here’s a link to all of the websites HIMYM has started (ok well inspired, since tedmosbyisnotajerk.com is a fan made site): http://how-i-met-your-mother.wikia.com/wiki/Tie-in_sites For those that don’t want to click, there are 24 and it doesn’t include the site marshallandlilyselltheirstuff.com (or the other way around, I don’t remember) that was up for a period of time as a charity auction thing if I remember correctly. It also doesn’t include the original MySpace release of Let’s Go to the Mall or the slap bet countdown.

Barney has twitter and a blog, and there are actual books of the Bro Code and the Playbook. There have been sporadic podcasts from people working on the show as well, but I only caught them now and again. But I enjoy taking a tiny joke in the show and fleshing it out for the fans on the internet.

The Fans

You didn’t think I was going to leave all of you out did you? The fans have really kept the momentum going. I love hearing what other people take away from an episode. They often catch things I missed. It really is awesome to see how many different perspectives the same scene or phrase can evoke. I can honestly say the experience wouldn’t have been the same without having places like this to connect with other fans. Thank you all for your contributions, even if you are a first time poster.

So here’s to the future and here’s to one hell of a night!

7 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Thank you Proffessor for getting real in-front of everyone. Our next Get real moment will be Saturday at Noon from a Guest Host.

  2. Proffessor, I’m in a very similar position to you. I was just beginning my freshman year of high school when the show started in 2005. It was a new chapter for me- a brand new school, in a new city, where I knew nobody. I got into HIMYM late- after hearing my friends discussing and quoting it every Tuesday morning for almost a year, I finally caught a rerun of the pilot episode. I spent the summer catching up, and was hooked ever since.

    Fast forward 9 years. Life hasn’t exactly been the easiest for me. I had my ups and downs. A LOT of moments from my own life appeared in the show at some point. Not in the same order, and not only the good things (one of the most haunting ones was me having the exact same conversation Ted and Robin had at the end of “No Pressure”, almost down to the letter, with a girl I loved at the time- but she never loved me back. It happened a year before that episode even aired)- but I had quite a few moments like that. Including just recently- me remaining the only single member of my group of friends, just like Ted was in mid-season 8.

    I didn’t expect to be married (I’m 23 right now)- but I DID expect to at least be in a serious relationship by this point and it did hurt me a little to realize that HIMYM is ending, and I’m still single. I’ve had my mistakes. I over analyze everything- and ended up Tedding up and Tedding out way more then I would have liked. But I’m happy with the way things have played out. Sure, it was FAR from perfect. But as said last week- What is? I’ve come a long way from who I was in 2005 to who I am now. And maybe my own Cristin Milioti will arrive in my life soon. Who knows.

    (Wow- that was WAY longer and more personal then I intended. On to the show…)

    I’ve mentioned this before- but HIMYM is the first time I have watched ANY show from start to finish, in order, almost all of it (from season 3 on) in real time. And at least as far as Sitcoms go, it will probably be the last. I haven’t gotten into ANY other show nearly as much. And while my ring of friends who follow the show may not be nearly as large as it was in it’s heyday (our Tuesday morning HIMYM discussions gradually turned into Tuesday night, then Wednesday or even Thursday, and by this season had almost stopped entirely)- my love for the show stayed the same. And I was very glad to find this blog, realize I wasn’t the only one, read the recaps, and eventually join in on the discussions. I may not have been here for a long time- but it was a fun ride. I look forward to reading everyone’s takes on the finale on Monday. Thank you all.

  3. I actually started watching two shows about the same time, and they both became favorites of mine. One was HIMYM, and the other was the legen… wait for it …dary It’s Always Sunny in Philiadelphia (Kids bolting upright: “WHAT?!?”)
    I’ve lost touch with Philadelphia through the years (mainly because it’s not running here, not because I grew tired of it. And I was happy when a pal told me a few days ago that the show is still being produced, so I have some catching up to do there).
    The reason I bring up Philadelphia is because HIMYM and Philadelphia were totally opposite poles. And they both spoke to me on a deeply personal level.
    I guess this is best explained as state of mind. I like to think of myself in oxymorons, like “handsomely ugly”, “a philanthropic cynic” and “a considerate asshole”. I do tend to like extremes. The normal and mediocre has never appealed to me. And I do like to have extremes at the opposite ends of the scale.
    So Philadelphia grabbed me on a primitive, brutal and over the top level (while still actually being very intelligent), basically being 5 Basil Fawltys on crack. And in the other range of the spectrum HIMYM grabbed me with it’s intelligence in playing with structures and having real heart (and, let’s not forget, a real continuity, is there any other sit com that has done this?). I was originally studying in the early 80s to become a systems programmer and software engineer, but life threw some curve balls. I have nevertheless always fancied computer programming, mathematics, logic, semantics (which led me into translations). These are all areas that deals with structure on an abstract level, and that was what caught me in HIMYM from the start. The play with structure, and the intricate web of call-backs foreshadowing, red herrings and hidden leads. The show was simply in it’s own right a piece of art, not to dissimilar to a painting of M.C. Escher.
    And when the show as well turned out to have heart, well, I just fell in love with it completely. Despite my somewhat cynical outlook on life, I do a strong romantic core within me. The show has filled a need. It’s gonna be sorely missed.

  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBSA_h1oZpg
    Here’s a video people at the show made to thank the fans.

    • I watched that on the CBS site and totally missed the significance for your Post Proffessor. So glad you pointed it out. We will put it at the bottom of the Fan section.

      Just wait for part two tomorrow at noon eastern time US.

  5. Thank you for sharing so much about yourself, it is refreshing to read sincere thoughts from someone living an examined life. (Most of the time what is spoken on the web is hateful or conceited and saddens me to see the direction much of society is headed.) I wish you much love and happiness in your life – you seem to share a lot of Ted’s best traits. :)

    A good TV series can help a person grow or learn new perspectives just as well as reading great books or listening to music that speaks to your soul. We were all drawn in by the humor and HIMYM quickly became thought provoking and a self examining tool for you, me, and many others.

  6. There are two very interesting YouTube Spoilers for the last episode that explain two of the questions I sort of wanted to know. We are going to have some of those questions answered that I really don’t care about, at the expense of some of the other things I want to see.

    But I still smiled at both clips. I loved them.

  • The Mother