Why “How I Met Your Mother” is One of the Best Romances on Television
You know what the most romantic love story of all time is? The one where a man tells the story of how he fell in love.
How I Met Your Mother is a television show. It is a comedy. And yet, it is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen–for so many reasons. For nine seasons we’ve heard a man tell his children the hilarious, touching, and life changing story of how he met (and fell in love) with their mother. It involves all the friendships and failures that brought him to that moment. The moment that changes everything.
I write romance for a living and I am constantly struck, as I’ve watched this show over the years, how touching and eloquent it could be about life and love. I appreciate the different storytelling devices the writers use (my favorite is starting the show at the end, then going back and telling us how it happened).
I also love the recurring themes: the goat, the slap bet, the Bro code… the list goes on. It creates a sense of anticipation and satisfaction, yet does it subtly and with very little effort. It is almost built into the fabric of the show itself.
I relate to this show for so many reasons. I’m approximately the same age as the characters, I went to college at the same time, had similar experiences, and met similar people. I fell in love with my husband in college and our best friend is still our best friend. (Sometimes seeing Mark and Nate together is so eerily similar to Ted and Marshall it scares me). We’ve been through the same heartbreaks, career changes, pregnancies, and weddings.
I sometimes feel like this show is my own life.
But it’s more than that. Sure the ’90’s references, flashbacks, and Legend-wait for it!-dary exploits are all oddly familiar, but there is more to the show than references and cultural symbolism. It is about life and relationships. The kind of stuff that is universal.
- The friend who you are bonded to for life because of an experience words will never be able to adequately explain. The “you had to be there” moment.
- The lover who somehow becomes your best friend.
- The love you feel for your children.
- The love you feel for your significant other.
These types of love aren’t unique to a specific person. Our individual experiences, our ups and downs, those are unique. But the kind of love is universal. Anyone can have that friend or lover.
The story of falling in love is timeless. They stick with us because it is the feeling, not the context, that matters. I know by heart the story of my Mimi and Papa meeting and falling in love. I will always remember my dad talking about the day he met my mom (they were in high school and she was wearing “shiny tights”). I tell the story of the day I met Nate over and over. Sure we talk about the clothes and friends and food, but it’s how they made us feel: like we weren’t alone, how our hearts began racing, how everything about our lives changed that day. It is one of those experiences we all want to have.
And that is why, as I watch these last episodes of How I Met Your Mother, I am struck so hard by how romantic this show is. We were promised in the first episode the story of how Ted met his wife. The writers have diligently worked hard to fulfill that promise. This season they have wrapped up nearly every story line, question, and character they introduced. As a writer, I am in awe of what they have accomplished. And on television? It is almost never done. The fulfillment of the promise of seeing Ted meet and fall in love is one of the most satisfying love stories I’ve ever read or watched. It will go down in my personal history of one of my all time favorites.
Copious tissues will be needed to get me through this last episode. I hope that it is everything I am wishing for in a finale. (I’m a little worried by rumors I’ve heard about the story line in this last episode, and yet I feel like even if they are true, I will still love the way they do it.)
Thank you Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for an amazing show, and thanks to all the actors and actresses who brought these characters to life. You’ve made a permanent mark on my heart. I don’t know what I’m going to do without this show!
The slap bet is one of my favorite recurring themes on the show. I would get so excited when I knew a Slaptastic episode was coming, I’d actually start vibrating. The anticipation of how and when it was going to go down was so fun! Plus, I think the magical combination of Marshall’s stoic commitment and that secret (not-so-secret) belief we all have that Barney kind of needs these slaps, made it even more hilarious than it already was.
Then there’s the goat, the doppelgangers, Barney’s theories…. the list is so long! What were some of your favorites to look forward to each week?