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How I Met Your Mother

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TV Series Review

After nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, several false positives and countless sex-and-suds jokes, we've finally met the mother. Not that we care. CBS' sitcom warhorse has been on the air for nearly a decade now, and it's time to put the ol' Betty out to pasture. Past time, actually.

The show's center is, technically, Ted Mosby, who every episode regales his children (circa 2030) with another story of his long-distant but still fondly remembered past. He talks about married pals Marshall and Lily. He talks about Robin, who might've at one time been "your mother." But he especially seems to relish the recalling of bud Barney's strange, sordid exploits.

Barney is for most of the series an unapologetically shallow young professional, a schmoozer who hounds his friends to join him at strip clubs, lingerie-modeling parties and sexed-up soirees. Entertainment Weekly was so impressed with Barney's presence that in 2005, during the sitcom's first season, the mag dubbed actor Neil Patrick Harris "the No. 1 scene-stealer on any new television show this fall." But not everyone has fallen for Barney's problematic charm. In 2009, Common Sense Media ranked him No. 10 on its "10 Worst TV Role Models" list, saying, "He's extremely cavalier about dating and rarely sees women as anything besides the next notch in his belt."

Note that when he finally gave his heart to Robin, he didn't really become a changed man, but at least he slowed down a little.

While the show has earned praise for its creativity (winning nine Emmys over the years), and despite this being a "children's story" (wink-wink), it's utterly obsessed with strippers, sex, alcohol and demeaning gags. A lifestyle of drinking, partying and meaningless hookups gets treated about as flippantly as the next transvestite hooker jest. And as hinted at while we were talking about Barney, getting married and having kids doesn't cause these hip professionals to suddenly turn their lives around: They just have to be more sneaky about things.

Mushy and romantic scenes do join those sneaky moments. And of course Barney, for all his scene-stealing, is the immoral stooge here. It's the somewhat more restrained Marshall that we can sympathize with. But the show never lets us forget, even for a moment, that in today's torrid TV world, tender moments and mature contemplation are given screen time solely to set up another bawdy wisecrack.

So while How I Met Your Mother would like us to believe it has the heart of Marshall, it really has the soul of Barney.

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Episode Reviews

HowIMetYourMother: 2-24-2014
HowIMetYourMother: 122012
HowIMetYourMother: 11152010



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Neil Patrick Harris as Barney; Josh Radnor as Ted; Alyson Hannigan as Lily; Jason Segel as Marshall; Cobie Smulders as Robin; Kal Penn as Kevin






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Paul Asay Meredith Whitmore Marcus Yoars

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