I love this show. It’s no longer my favorite on the air right now, but I do think that in the end it will end up having been my favorite real ensemble sitcom since Seinfeld. I know it’s fashionable to hate Friends, but I was a pretty big fan of Friends and definitely saw the ‘Friends for the 00s’ vibe they seemed to be going for in the beginning, but I think that HIMYM has really risen above that, with a cast of lovable, hateable characters.
Where they really shine over a show like Friends is the Muppetization of their cast. Where Muppetization refers to the way that almost every Muppet is a failure of some sort. Kermit wants to run a great show, but it’s always a disaster. Piggy wants to be a star, but she’s a punchline. Fozzie wants to tell a joke, but he is one instead. The same goes for the HIMYM cast. Where Ross was exactly what he wanted to be (dinosaur expert), Rachel, despite having no education or experience, ends up a bigwig at Calvin Klein, Chandler gives up his job on a lark to get into advertising and is a success, Monica is a big time chef and even Joey ends up back on Days of Our Lives by the end of the show’s run, everyone on HIMYM fails to live up to their dreams. Ted has settled for teaching architecture rather than being an architect. Marshall is a lawyer for a big, inhuman corporation rather than doing the eco-law he really wanted to do. Lily utterly failed at being an artist and now teaches kids. And Robin’s always one step away from her dream working as a real news anchor.
I have a feeling that by the time the show ends some or most or all will finally achieve their dreams, if only because it’s a sitcom on a major network and major network show runners tend to want happy endings. But for now, despite the often cartoonish jokes and the show’s trademark reliance on flashbacks in flashbacks, the show is probably the best tackling of ‘a bunch of Friends living in a big city’ on TV right now and it treats its characters like real people, even if that means happy endings are hard to come by.
Also, Jennifer Morrison should stop bleaching her hair.