Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pass the (Microwave) Popcorn: How I Met Your Mother

We have been buried under snow for more than three weeks now. Truly, the piles are ten and twelve-feet high, effectively making every single intersection a blind-spot death-trap. There are no sidewalks to be seen. And roofs have quite literally caved in. The riding ring at my daughter's stable is officially closed until March (a beam cracked last week and can't be repaired until the roof is snow-free — if and when that ever happens). 

Potentially more traumatic ... the roof of a small strip mall in our town collapsed and the building may be condemned. It wasn't historic (or particularly attractive even), but it contained the town's sole Starbucks! No more decaf, low-fat caramel macchiatos, no more friendly and surprisingly literate baristas.

The horror!

So, with six snowdays so far, impassable roads and frigid temperatures (and my husband shoveling indeterminable amounts of snow in 50 mph winds), my teenage daughter and I have spent an inordinate amount of time on the sectional in front of the television. For many moons, she's encouraged me to watch How I Met Your Mother (all nine — yes, nine — seasons are available on demand on Netflix). Two blizzards ago, I finally agreed.

We are now on season four, episode sixteen.

Before you do any math, let me explain that each episode ran only thirty minutes when the series was on in real time. Without commercial breaks, they run just about twenty. 

Okay, you can do the math now.

Wait. Please don't.

The thing is, now officially halfway through the series' entire run, I understand why my daughter loves it so. It's really very funny. The characters are just quirky enough to be entertaining. Their scrapes and inside jokes border on the absurd but are true to their own wacky logic.

How I Met Your Mother revolves around a group of young professionals in a mid-1990's New York that looks nothing like that city but exactly like a backlot at some Hollywood studio. To my credit, I've only pointed that out once or maybe twice per episode. The group includes Ted, an architect and sort of the moral compass of the show; Lilly and Marshall, a teacher and lawyer respectively, who are so in love it would be sickening except that they're also so oversexed; Robin, a newscaster and former mall singer from Canada; and Barney Stinson.

Ah, Barney.

If the stories weren't funny (they are), if the writing wasn't good (it is), and if the rest of the cast weren't fine (and then some), I would still watch because of Barney.

Barney, a determined playboy whose mysterious job affords him a sleek bachelor pad and countless custom suits, is played to perfection by Neil Patrick Harris. Every time I think I've heard all the possible Barney-isms ("Suit up!" "Legend — wait for it — dary!"), he creates a new one ("Possipimble!"). He has very few admirable qualities (all right, none, it's pretty much none). He has no problem lying, cheating, stealing to get into a girl's bed, and less than no problem sneaking out of it while she's in the bathroom after the deed is done, leaving a "Dear Jane" note on his now ex-lover's pillow.

The character is fairly despicable, but NPH is entirely adorable. Who knew Doogie Howser would grow up to be such a louse — and such an amazing talent. I'm more sorry than ever that I missed him as Hedwig on Broadway this past year.

Still, there's something to look forward to. This coming Sunday, The Oscars will be hosted by none other than Barney Stinson himself. Still basking in the success of her recommendation and our How I Met marathon, my daughter has agreed to watch the awards with me.

After all, if I can watch 27.3 sitcom hours with her, she can watch a 6-hour awards show with me.

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