A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that How I Met Your Mother is an entertaining, refreshingly kooky sitcom focused on love and relationships, with a large dose of sexual-themed humor. There’s plenty of flirting and innuendo, especially from one character who constantly tries to seduce women and then brags about his conquests. One of the main sets is a bar, where the gang gathers to drink and talk. Expect some swearing, including "damn," "bitch," and "ass."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER begins every episode many years from now, as future Ted (voiced by Bob Saget) tells his teenage kids a story about his life as a single New Yorker trying to find the woman who will one day be their mom. Back in the present, Ted (Josh Radnor) is aided in his quest by his friends Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Marshall (Jason Segel), Marshall’s wife, Lily (Alyson Hannigan), and her best friend (and Ted’s ex-girlfriend), Robin (Cobie Smulders). The quintet endures all the bumps of dating in the big city -– except for Barney, an incorrigible womanizer who brags constantly about his one-night stands and always has a suggestive line at the ready.
Is it any good?
The strength of this very witty comedy is the chemistry between the five main characters. They play off each other just like real-life best friends, and their conflicts and triumphs seem like the kinds of issues that might happen to anyone -- except served up with better one-liners. Yes, there are some parts that seem a bit far-fetched -- how could Barney even find enough time for all those women, let alone appeal to them despite his obvious on-the-prowl status? -- but the group still comes across like people you could hang out with and want to get to know at the local bar where they convene regularly. Credit the writers for creating full-fledged, if exaggerated, characters, and for set-ups that are tantalizingly amusing.
One point that starts to feel thin after a while, however, is the gimmick behind the title of How I Met Your Mother. Perhaps clever in early episodes, as the seasons progress, it sometimes seems like we no longer care anymore who the mother is, what with all the storyline manipulations surrounding the topic. Robin, a strong candidate at first, has long since been ruled out, which means that Ted must eventually find a steady girlfriend. That isn't necessarily a flaw -- much of the best comedy stems from romantic misadventures -- but someday Ted will need a romantic encounter that doesn't end badly, which is unlikely to be as funny.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about relationships. Are Ted's wants and beliefs realistic in How I Met Your Mother? How does Ted's attitude toward women contrast to Barney's?
How does this show fit into the standard sitcom formula? Where does it differ? Why do you think so many TV comedies are so similar?
Why do you think so many sitcoms have lots of scenes set in bars? Do you know a lot of adults who spend their time in bars? Are they like the people in this show?
How do the characters change over the course of the show? Do you like them more or less as they change?
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