Apart from its most obvious characteristics (delightful lines, great actors and cosy settings), which it shares with all great sitcoms, what delights me most about How I Met Your Mother is the juxtaposition of excellent writing, amazing narrative technique, and great direction. Take for example, the episode in which Marshall and Lily decide to do away with their little rituals and traditions; specifically, that of picking each other up from the airport and getting “Six-Packs”. In this instance, the narrative is spread over three snowy days in New York and evolves in a non-linear fashion. The non-linear narration is hidden from the viewers until the final sequence, which deftly unfolds the narrative and brings together one crucial element from each of the three days — Marshall himself, the “Arizona Tech Fighting Hens Marching Band”, and Lily and her keg of beer — to tie up all the loose ends in the developments.
Another, in my opinion, virtuoso performance is an earlier episode in which everyone spills the beans on the hitherto hidden and tolerated “bad qualities” of everyone else: Ted the “Corrector”, Marshall the annoying “Singer”, “Chewbacca” Lily, “Literally” Robin and the forever selfish and narcissistic Barney with his occasional “high-pitched voice”. It starts off with Marshall and the others telling Ted that his new girlfriend “talks a lot”. This initiates a domino effect leading to a scenario in which everyone’s so-called “annoying habits” come to light. In the meanwhile, Marshall’s bar exam results are out but, being unable to recollect his password, he is not in a position to check his results online. With tension mounting and relationships straining, the resolution arrives in the form of one of Marshall’s “annoying songs” and then everything goes back to normal with everyone celebrating “Marshall the Lawyer”. I may be going a bit overboard here, but this particular episode felt like a beautifully composed, tightly orchestrated and masterfully conducted piece of music. And I can’t think of any other sitcom on which that perspective would have been a perfect fit. Amazing!