The last few weeks I’ve taken to skimming through the 9 seasons of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. I’ve tried to watch this show before and thought it was amusing, but never liked enough to “binge watch” every episode. I’ve changed my mind, this is fascinating show.
What grabs me the most aren’t the running gags like the interventions or Barney’s famous “wait for it,” funny as these are. The central question of “is this the titular mother?” is also not what I find most striking. Rather, it’s the way the show displays the passage of time, and how life changes the characters.
The early seasons of the show a great deal of time is spent with the main characters in “their” booth at MacLaren’s Pub. As the series progresses, however, the characters get older. They move from “just out of college” 20’s to “learning how to be adults” 30’s, and even into their “really, I’m the adult??” 40’s. The older they become, the less the bar features in the stories. In some episodes flashbacks to some previously unseen episode are actually required to bring the familiar booth into the story. Instead, in the later seasons, homes and family and children and marriage loom much larger than having a “great time” any day of the week. The characters remain themselves, and develop the type of in-group shorthand only close friends generate over time 1, but they grow.
The last two seasons pull a bit of a “Lost” and flash both backward and forward around the same “present time” plot, and here the growth of the main cast is featured most prominently. Friendships change, “the gang’s” priorities shift dramatically, and time move forward furiously. There is a real sense these characters are wrestling with closing a special chapter of their lives, while simultaneously attempting to hold on to one another – even if the connections are more physically distant than they’d been earlier in the series.
How I met your mother is a show which has plenty of laughs and cringe-worthy moments. It’s worth watching just for that. At it’s best, however, it helps people consider their own friendships, and reflect on the ones which have withstood the rigors of time and distance. They are the people our stories are made of.
- Right babe? ↩