How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season 7
Fox Home Entertainment
Starring: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan
Best for: Parents & Teens
PopFam Rating: B-
Show Summary: Ted Mosby and his four best friends search for love and happiness in New York City.
Let's be honest: If your family is the kind that looks to TV for positive role models, then How I Met Your Mother is not a good fit for you. The five main characters in this hit comedy are generally awful examples of a healthy lifestyle. Ted (Josh Radnor), Marshall (Jason Segel) Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and the rest of the gang enthusiastically engage in all sorts of bad behavior, yet endure very few real-life consequences related to their often self-destructive lifestyles.
HOWEVER, if your family members are mature enough (teens and older) to separate fiction from reality, and can talk about the differences between imaginary alcoholism, STDs, and the real-life outcomes from those lifestyles, then you may enjoy spending time with How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season 7.
But first, perhaps a little introduction is in order...
For the uninitiated, How I Met Your Mother takes the "flashback" concept to extreme in telling its stories. The premise is that a grown-up Ted (Bob Saget as narrator) is telling his two kids a long, drawn out story of (you guessed it) how he met their mother. The payoff, though, is that his telling of the tale is a winding, hilarious journey that really is just an excuse to share favorite memories from his young adulthood in New York City, spent with his four best, lifelong friends. But don't be deceived: Just because grown-up Ted is supposedly telling this story to his children, that doesn't stop him from including scenes and activities that are wildly inappropriate for kids. For instance:
Ted, Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (the incomparable Neil Patrick Harris) are generally obsessed with sex, and boast dozens of random sexual encounters--including flings among their own group of friends. Barney, in fact, boasts hundreds of sexual partners and is constantly on the lookout for more. (In spite of this, he somehow seems to have avoided any trace of any sexually transmitted disease...only in TV-land, right?) What's more, the five friends have smoked enough marijuana to make Snoop Dogg seem normal. They regularly visit strip clubs. And these people drink more alcohol than should be humanly possible (again, no liver disease or alcoholism in the bunch...go figure). They disdain Christianity and mock family members (i.e. Ted's sister) as extreme, joyless, nutcases. And they generally choose the worst possible option in any situation, which is often terribly funny, but not often something you'd want your kids to think is OK to do.
So, no, these characters are not people you want your children to model their lives after.
Still, as I mentioned earlier, if your family members are mature enough to separate fiction from reality, and can talk about what you watch on TV, then there's a lot to enjoy in How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season 7 DVD set.
For starters, HIMYM (as its fans affectionately abbreviate it) is genuinely funny. This show features quick wit, unexpected laughs, and just enough absurdist slapstick to keep you guessing - and wanting more. "Ducky Tie" in season 7 is a perfect example of this. After losing a bet to Marshall and Lily, Barney must wear a silly necktie featuring a plethora of rubber duckies. His increasingly desperate attempts to get out of wearing the tie are just, well, funny.
HIMYM also takes seriously its commitment to continuity and keeping promises to its fans. For instance, anytime a web address is mentioned on the show, you can bet that you'll find that site live and running on the Internet in your home. Also, the show often makes promises early in a season (or even in previous seasons) that it fulfills in later ones. There's a long-running Slap-Bet gag that shows up around Thanksgiving each year. And in Season 7, the "The Best Man" starts things off by promising a wedding for dedicated bachelor/himbo, Barney! Then the show spends the entire rest of the season working its way back to that beloved ceremony we saw in episode 1. When it reappears again in the two-part season finale, "The Magician's Code," we're ready for the fun.
And, lest we be unfair, there are many admirable qualities displayed by our five, fault-ridden friends. Unconditional loyalty as a necessary ingredient of love is evident in nearly every episode. Joy in life and in friendship weaves its way through all five characters. Children are highly-prized and loved here, and the characters show that repeatedly with their words and actions. Marriage is sacrosanct, so much so that Marshall and Lily are never even tempted to stray from each other's love, and are often held up as the ideal for their promiscuous friends. Forgiveness reigns supreme, as all these friends must, sooner or later, give and receive this grace in order to stay together.
HIMYM also often deals tenderly with real-life tragedy, facing square-on situations such as the death of a loved one, infertility, unemployment, and the consequences of absentee parenting.
In all, How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season 7 is not a good choice if you're looking for TV role models. But if you just want a good laugh, and an occasional warm tug at your heartstrings, then you could do worse than HIMYM. It's not for everyone, but I still enjoyed it anyway.
Recommended for parents and mature teens only.
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