Monday, January 3, 2011

How I Met Your Mother countdown

Among my 6 must-see sitcoms each week is How I Met Your Mother —hilarious, kitschy at times, slapstick in all the right ways, and two words: Barney Stinson. Neil Patrick Harris is a ridiculous comedian: timing, physical humour, inflection...he cracks me up every time.

*Spoiler alert*

But tonight's episode had a curious twist: a countdown. In the background of several scenes, numbers appeared on various props—a beer can, an apartment door, a medical folder, a news channel, and 46 other random things. I was over-thinking it (as per usual) and figured that the items on which the numbers appeared could be combined to convey some kind of message. I was wrong. I followed the countdown eagerly from 50 down to 1 only to discover that the episode was counting down to the death of Marshall's father.

It seems sinister for a sitcom to run an episode-long countdown only to reveal the death of a cursory (yet beloved) character. There must be something more to this. Maybe it's a tribute to something that happened off-screen, like the loss of a set-dresser's loved one? Or a writer's family member? I can't accept that the How I Met Your Mother countdown was solely devoted to counting down the final minutes of Mr. Erikson.

Does anyone else who watches the show have any thoughts? I'm assuming they're going for the "with death comes new life" thing—Marshall's dad dies, but now he and Lily get pregnant with a son of their own. But what of the countdown? What else was the show trying to say?


  1. I think it was saying that we all get so caught up in living, that it never occurs to us that death is waiting just around a corner. I think the writers got us all caught up in counting down, (living) that we never saw his father's death coming.

  2. I don't know what it was about, but it was certainly affecting. Marshall's dad was a loving, enthusiastic and supportive figure, and my roommates and I certainly related the character to the better moments of our own fathers. After the show ended, after the "What the F" moment, we all picked up the phone to call our fathers and tell them we loved them. Maybe that type of gesture was what the writers were hoping to elicit from their viewers with this episode. Or maybe they are just jerks who didn't want anyone to be happy after New Years. Damn, that episode messed me up.

  3. Well said, Anonymous! I'll admit, I had to strain to follow the actual plot because I was so caught up in finding the numbers in the background. I guess another message is to not get caught up in all the little things, and to focus more on the big picture once in a while. Stop obsessing and just enjoy life. I'm going to also take that as forgetting the cliche resolutions and just live your life! I think there's some new year's symbolism in there with the whole countdown aspect.


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