Everyone has a favorite TV show — mine is “How I Met Your Mother.” The show’s quick wit and hilarious (though sometimes predictable) plotlines made me initially fall in love with the show, while the group dynamic — from Ted’s (Josh Radnor) nerdy style to Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) Canadian pop-star alter-ego — makes me laugh every week.
But lately, it has also started to make me cry. The once silly, happy group of friends now must cope with the unexpected death of Marshall’s (Jason Segal) father, Marvin (Bill Fagerbakke). The Jan. 3 episode, “Bad News,” ended with Marshall and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) in tears after they learn of his father’s untimely death.
Not only did this news shock the whole group, it probably shocked most HIMYM fans as well. This episode — one of the funnier recent ones — took a deeply serious turn. The creators of the show made a deliberate segue into this darker theme, as this was the first episode of the new year.
This show is classified as a comedy, not a soap opera! It only got worse in the next episode, entitled “Last Words.” Marshall and his family discuss the last thing that Marvin said to each one of them. This conversation caused the characters and the audience to think about how meaningful someone’s last words really are. In this deeply emotional episode, the humor the show is known for just seemed to cheapen the moment.
The entire cast supposedly found the funeral episode very funny while filming it, but I, for one, disagree completely. Moments like when Robin gains a reputation as “vice girl,” or how Ted and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) try to make Marshall laugh with videos of guys getting hit in the crotch take away from the moresensitive subjects and plot development.
In most other episodes, these scenarios would be pretty funny, but, unfortunately, the incredibly serious overtone of the episode overshadowed the humor. The depressing theme of the latest two episodes is entirely atypical.
In a recent interview the show’s co-creator, Carter Bays, expressed his surprise about how shocked the fans were in regards to Marvin’s death. The 12 most recent episodes of the show were intended to lead up to it with subtle hints. He also discussed how the show has covered some serious issues in the earlier episodes, mostly involving Barney’s attempts to meet his real father or Ted’s romantic failures — most notably, when he was left at the altar.
The characters also are now dealing with more adult issues, such as having a baby or finding a good career, rather than simply figuring out who they wanted to hook up with at the bar (except for Barney, of course).
Although the show has dealt with serious problems in the past, this new theme really throws viewers for a loop. I was totally shocked when Lily got out of the cab and told Marshall that his dad was dead. Are you serious? I think I can speak for most viewers in saying that I didn’t see any of the “hints” supposedly dropped throughout the earlier episodes. It just made no sense. When something sad happens in this show, usually the characters talk about it for a few minutes, and then everyone moves on without really adressing it. In this situation, however, they dedicated one entire episode to discussing death. This seems out of the ordinary for the show’s standard style and structure.
I was hoping the show would return to its usual comedic nature, but after two weeks of no new episodes, my patience is wearing thin. Hopefully the show will heed Barney’s famous advice: “When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead.” OK, “How I Met Your Mother.” I’ll be waiting patiently.
Sokol is a member of the class of 2013.