Since writing this post, I learned that the 2013-2014 season of How I Met Your Mother will be it’s last, which is sad because I really thought they were handling the Barney/Robin relationship well. My biggest fear for this show was that it would be ruined if Barney were in a relationship and it wasn’t ruined at all.
One of my favorite teachers ever taught me (and the rest of the class) that the best comedy comes from the “stumble to the alter” phase of a person’s life. He meant that other than “family” sitcoms, the best time for comedy in a person’s life is the time when they’re old enough to potentially get married to the time that they’re actually married.
This is why so many sitcoms have died or ended once it’s “single” characters get married. This is why so many sitcoms have kept their characters in a perpetual state of immaturity.
In an ensemble sitcom, you can of course have one married couple, but as the other characters begin to pair off, the sitcom will sooner rather than later come to an end.
This is the looming fear of How I Met Your Mother. The whole premise of the show is leading up to the moment when Ted gets married. It can happen at any time. Now, on top of that, we have Robin and Barney paring off. Soon, the whole cast will be married.
Also, when characters in a sitcom begin to pair off, usually the “drama” starts to increase and the “comedy” starts to decrease. This happened to Friends. It’s happening to HIMYM. However, it never happened with Seinfeld. Seinfeld was aware of where the comedy came from. He knew about the “stumble to the alter.” He never messed with it.
The 2012 winter finale of HIMYM was really good. Despite Robin and Barney being officially paired off, despite the ramped up drama. I don’t know why, but I really feel like HIMYM might just be able to break the mold and still be good after all their characters are married. With it’s continued quality use of flashbacks we can always get a good dose of Barney running a ridiculous scam from his playbook, or Ted getting into ridiculous circumstances.
HIMYM has had its ups and downs as its characters have aged. There were times when I was really pissed off at the show and on the verge of giving up on it (hello three episode arc about Marshall’s father dying), and yes it was in its prime during season 2 and 3 and hasn’t been as consistently funny since. But dammit if I wasn’t sold on the 2012 winter finale. I have hope that this show can do what no other similar sitcom has ever been able to pull off.