CANDIDATE #4: How I Met Your Mother

Being a resident of New York City, I am naturally a connoisseur of any television show that takes place in New York City. At times this is what attracts me to a show in the first place, though very few get the details of New York living correct. I have thought long and hard about this selection, and I myself am surprised by the result. Honesty if there is anyone out there moving to New York, the show I am recommending is now required watching. In all of current prime time television there is one show that not only captures the essence of life in New York, but is also the best show on television today. This show is, a bit shockingly, "How I Met Your Mother."

"How I Met Your Mother" - or HIMYM - is surprisingly accurate about the details of New York City life, focusing on five late twenty-somethings that spend their free time in a bar (as opposed to a coffee shop). The main character Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) lives in a fairly spacious apartment on the Upper West Side, but he lives (for now) with married couple Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) and Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) who all make a decent enough income to make this realistic.

Neil Patrick Harris' charter Barney has a gigantic apartment on the Upper East Side, but it is the running joke of the show and no one knows "exactly" what he does for a living - I know people like this! At one point Lilly moved out to get her own apartment and wound up living in a shoebox sized space in the Bronx that had a rat. Finally! A show based in New York gets it. This is a dead-on accurate portrayal of the kind of an apartment a person living alone on a teacher's salary (as Lilly was) would be renting.

HIMYM gets the little things right. Last season there was an episode where Barney was stuck on the 6 train because his legs would not move. He just ran the New York City Marathon, and Ted tried to rescue him at the 86th and Lexington Ave. subway station. On another episode, Ted met his (at the time) girlfriend Robin (Cobie Smulders) at her place in Brooklyn and mentions the long F train ride from Manhattan. Both of these situations involve not only spot-on representations of the subway but the proper subway line too.

The biggest similarity between the show and the city is that three of the main characters are originally from the Midwest. This is a sad truth - Manhattan is not the gritty jungle that a lot of television shows and movies try to make it out to be. The reality is Manhattan is filled to the brim with Midwesterners (like me!) that sit around in bars, just like the characters of HIMYM, happy that they can stay out past 1 a.m.

The worst thing going for "How I Met Your Mother" is probably the title. Guys will dismiss it as a "chick show," and yes the overall theme of the show is Ted telling the story of how he met is future wife. But this show is so much more. The entire pilot episode was based on Ted falling in love with Robin - yawn - we get it, Robin is the mother, and we will watch Ted chase her around for a few years before she finally realizes Ted is "the one." Wrong! As future Ted (the voice of Bob Saget) explains to his future children at the end of that first episode, this was how he met (not surprising to his future children but surprising to us) "your Aunt Robin." All of his close friends are referred to as 'Aunt' or 'Uncle' by future Ted.

HIMYM rewards its viewers with inside jokes from previous episodes the same way Arrested Development did. (Did I just compare "How I Met Your Mother" to "Arrested Development?" Yes!) For example, last season Marshall won a bet that gives him the right to slap Barney at any time as hard as he wants. The "slap bet" continues to this day without explanation. Marshall will simply, without warning (sans the Slapsgiving episode where there was actually few weeks of warning) slap Barney in mid-sentence. A scene this season, about the first time Ted and Barney met, played on a joke originally set up in the pilot episode three years ago. Brilliant! Flashbacks and flash-forwards are used often and effectively, but the continuity of the story is NEVER broken. Last season we had a flash forward to Ted's 30th birthday, an episode that will not air until "next season." All we saw as a viewer was a goat; I guarantee that next season a goat will be prominently involved in at least one episode.

"Arrested Development" was also brilliant (perhaps more), but it lost any chance of drawing new viewers because that series was "too" inside. In other words, if that show was not followed from day one it was next to impossible to follow the story. HIMYM offers juicy nuggets to its longtime viewers, but at the same time keeps the story from getting so intertwined that a new viewer could not pick it up. No matter what anyone says, this is important! Sure, a show like "Lost" might be great (it is!), but not everyone wants to purchase the previous seasons on DVD and invest weeks of viewing in order to make sense of the current season.

It has been three seasons; will Ted ever meet his future wife? Well, yes. The question now becomes when will Ted meet his future wife? Perhaps it has already happened. For better or worse this theme, which is the basis for the entire show, will have to come to fruition soon. We do worry a bit that when this happens it will change the dynamic of a show that is currently running on all cylinders. I put my faith though in the brilliant (have I used that word enough to describe this show) writers that they can overcome the future "love story" aspect that too many shows whither and die from. I assume HIMYM will do anything but whither and die. In fact, I think, as Barney would say, the future of this show will be...wait for it...legendary!

By Mike Ryan

Starpulse contributing writer

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