How I Met Your Mother TV Poster Image

How I Met Your Mother

Clever sitcom about love features sex talk, drinking.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Friendship and love are important on this show, which often examines the ties that bind its five main characters to each other -- and to others as well. Two are married to each other, and their solid relationship is strong enough to weather the bumps of sitcom plot twists. Other characters bounce between periods of being in relationships and being single, and they turn to their friends to help them recover from the inevitable bruises of their up-and-down romantic lives.

Positive role models

Most of the characters seem like average, likeable people just trying to figure out life. All of them have flaws, which are frequently played for laughs. Ted is a romantic at heart but doesn't always make smart choices; Robin fears commitment but tries to see herself clearly. Marshall and Lily, a married couple, are especially sweet, and it’s clear that they love each other deeply, even when they're bickering. And Barney is a serial womanizer who claims to live for one-night stands (though as the show goes on, his priorities gradually change). He frequently makes dismissive/disparaging comments about women and often comments on their bodies. But his friends often criticize his behavior and make it clear that such attitudes aren't healthy.


Occasional comic pratfalls, etc. A running joke involves characters slapping each other.


Lots of innuendo and references to/discussions about sex, especially between amorous Marshall and Lily. Some fooling around on screen, and lots more is implied off screen. Characters are shown in various stages of partial dress, but there's no actual nudity. Barney is a serial womanizer who lives for casual hookups and avoids commitment.


Language includes "damn," "bitch," "hell," "ass," "bastard," "bang," etc.


Syndicated versions of the show's episodes sometimes include retroactive product placement (background TV screens showing clips from upcoming movies, etc.).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main characters frequently convene for drinks at a neighborhood bar. Some references to being drunk and making poor decisions while intoxicated.

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."

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. 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about relationships. Are Ted's wants and beliefs realistic? 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?

TV details

Premiere date:September 19, 2005
Cast:Alyson Hannigan, Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, Neil Patrick Harris
Networks:CBS, Syndicated
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of How I Met Your Mother was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 11 and 14 year old Written byheather.parker October 6, 2012


I watched 5 minutes of this show and all they talked about was sex.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written bybobbeta30 January 23, 2011


I love this show! It's great for most ages and it's funny. Trust me, the stuff they hear on T.V. is sterile clean compared to stuff at school.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Kid, 10 years old January 1, 2011


very funny but has some inapropreite moments