You’re going to consider this something of an odd choice for a mystery novel review site – a situation comedy about the trials and tribulations of the central character’s search for true love assisted (or not) by his four best friends. Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) proceeds to tell his two children the tale about how he met their mother, choosing to start at what is basically the very beginning of his tale, which is, admittedly, eight years before he actually met her. Nine seasons later (the final season is set over the course of one extremely hectic long weekend), we finally get the whole story and an ending that, shall we say, irked a number of the long term viewers.
So why on earth am I blogging about it?
Well, there are loads of reason why I love this show. The cast, first and foremost, without a weak link in it and writing that makes you rapidly care about what’s going to happen to these people, evenly the deeply disturbed Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) although being played by Neil Patrick Harris probably helped there. Who doesn’t like NPH? The convincing depiction of Marshall and Lily’s (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan) happy relationship that never feels the need to put artificial obstacles in their path – even the temporary (and thankfully) brief break-up made sense – feels so welcoming (speaking as someone in a happy relationship). And Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) emotional growth never feels forced but entirely natural.
But the reason that it appeals to me most of all is the plotting. A fair number of episodes have a clever twist in them – not so many that you expect it in every episode, so that you’re not looking for it, but enough that certainly kept me entertained. The episode with the snowstorm, for example, or the one with the SCUBA suit are ones that stick in the memory. Add in attempts to play with the narrative, such as different points of view or non-linear story-telling (such as the housewarming party) and you realise that the writers were concerned with much more than just telling a love story. One of the highlights for me was the episode that cued up the surprise ending with a musical cue that kept playing in the background that should have been so obvious (for a long time viewer) but I doubt anyone would have put two and two together. The bit alone for me would have made the series worthwhile (although it diidn’t need to).
And I can’t discuss the series without alluding to the divisive ending. There’s an interview with the creators where they say that they edited two endings, the unbroadcast one being on YouTube, and decided which one to show. I call hogwash on that. The ending as it was broadcast is completely in the spirit of the plotting of the show, answering two unasked questions that were hanging since the very first episode – which I leave blank but you can highlight if you want.
Question 1: Why is Ted telling this story to his kids?
Question 2: Why does he start the story at the point that he does?
It’s a masterpiece of plotting, in my opinion, and while, disgracefully, there is no hint of a murder anywhere in sight, this is a show that rewards viewers that appreciate a story that has had some serious thought put into it while still entertaining. It’s available in the UK for those of you who have Netflix, so why not give it a try? Funny, clever and heartwarming. Highly Recommended.