18
Oct
2010
How I Met Your Mother: Season 6, Episode 5
Destruction
Jordan
Allow me to open up discussion a question that may have crossed the minds of some viewers of How I Met Your Mother during the opening episodes of it's sixth season: Does a sitcom actually have to be funny? In its prime, HIMYM was hilarious on a pretty much weekly basis, and also packed an emotional punch tied to our investment in the characters and our deep, lasting interest in the resolution of the masterplot. As the seasons have rolled by, the show has become far less consistently hilarious. At this point, I can go whole episodes without a real hardy laugh. Yet, unlike last season, in which a laughless half hour meant pretty bad television, I can't say that I'm not enjoying the Sixth Season so far.

Tonight, we watched Ted develop and then lose interest in a girl who loves the building that will be destroyed to make way for the new GNB headquarters he is designing. The girl wasn't a particularly humorous character, as she was pretty transparently crazy from early on, and there were no real stakes to the flirtation. We now know for a fact that Ted meets the mother at a wedding, and so until we see that, there's no question about whether a random girl he meets might be the mother. Beyond that, it was clear from the start that Zoey was a one-episode character who would leave almost no impact on the characters or the series. The subplot had something to say about what we give up and what we are willing to pretend to like (or even convince ourselves we actually like) in a relationship, but it was nothing the show hasn't touched on before, and better.

Meanwhile, Marshall ad Lily are having sex like a married couple trying to conceive until Marshall discovers that (gasp!) girls talk about sex with an astonishing level of detail. This subplot smacked of a misstep the show occasionally makes based on its success in the early years. Episodes like "Nothing Good Happens After 2 am," "The Pineapple Incident," and even the lesser episode "The Platinum Rule" all commented on truisms in life that made the characters seem more realistic and aware of the world than most sitcom characters ever are. Since those early successes, the show has occasionally struck gold again, but these days, it just as often misses landing on truth. The idea that the guys are disgusted that the girls share sexual details is a little silly. An while some guys do tend to be subtle about the details of their sexual encounters, just as many are horribly explicit in a way that would shock Lily and Robin, and I find it hard to believe that Barney is not the latter. Add to that the fact that the "girls talk about sexual details" subplot has been done many times before, and often better, and you have a pretty lackluster plotline for the show to plod through.

"Destruction" didn't really have much to say about the characters, it didn't have any life lessons to impart, and it didn't move the masterplot forward. Also, as I said before, it wasn't very funny. There is something to be said for the level of investment I have in these characters, which is to he show's credit. It can turn out an unoriginal, unfunny episode like this and I will still watch it, and even enjoy it. After six seasons, How I Met Your Mother has made a very loyal fan out of me. I just like spending time with the characters its created and in the world that they live in. That's a huge achievement, and a necessary one for any sitcom to be considered a success. But in answer to the question I posed at the opening of this review, yes a sitcom has to be funny. This show can get away with doing more dramatic episodes, more heartfelt episodes, longer, more involved story arcs, and even romantic masterplot episodes. Bu it can't get away with turning out sitcom tropes and forgetting to add the laughs that are supposed to accompany them. After six years, expect more from it.

Grade: C

Notes:

-"Working together is going to be legen-wait for it...I'll send you an inter-office memo with the rest because we freakin' work together!" And then he did.

-"Max is both his name, and his level of awesomeness."

-An interesting idea that the show flirted with but then abandoned tonight is Barney's "New is always better" rule and its contrast with Ted's "old is always better" proclamation. Both are obviously wrong, but some of the show's funniest moments tonight came from Ted's efforts to prove that to Barney, and a duel between the theories could have provided laughs, if not originality.

-"The first three barely mention the intricacies of intergalactic trade law."-Barney, on why the new trilogy is better than the old (if you have to ask what trilogy, I have nothing to say to you).

-"Max's penis is stuck in my brain like a splinter. Like a splinter sized splinter."

-"Zoey, I'm Batman. That'd be cool..."
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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