11/29/2021
We're a long way yet to the yellow umbrella

You probably know this by now, but the thing with lockdowns and streaming services is you get to watch shows you would've otherwise missed, that you would've been too damn lazy to catch up with because of all the, well, measures you have to take to do so.

And yes, my first job saw me write about American television. I always found it funny how I stumbled upon that when I didn't watch a lot of television in the years prior. I was out of the loop in virtually every conversation my college classmates had about whatever happened on the series they watch. Blame my parents' insistence that we didn't need broadband at the time, I guess? But that, as they say, is toxic behavior.

Even when I already had that job I didn't take the opportunity - unless it was asked of me, as was the case with Lost - to catch up with everything I've missed. I guess I insisted on watching only what I had to watch, or wanted to watch. Arguably I made up for it by introducing many friends to Glee, especially when it was still really good - the first thirteen episodes, more or less.

Fast forward to now. Life got in the way, so at some point I stopped watching everything. I mean, dropped them all like a hot potato, if you'll allow me an overused cliché. When I eventually returned to watching shows on a regular basis, it was really select. I knew I didn't have the time and energy to dive into a drama series. It's why Breaking Bad and Peaky Blinders remain items on my Netflix list. It's why I ended up committing myself to more digestible anime series and, well, the sitcoms that I can watch - and that meant I can reassess the shows that I gave up on at some point, for one reason or another.

Take New Girl. I gave the pilot a try, and then dropped it, because I wasn't keen on a series that relied entirely on Zooey Deschanel's "adorkable" shtick. When Shalla started watching it last year, I watched with her, and finally understood how it evolved into an ensemble comedy with a proclivity for jokes about sexual offender lists and the awkwardness of learning your friend made out with your absentee dad.

Modern Family was another show that I dropped, although it's because I had so much to watch at the time (for work) and couldn't squeeze in another, especially if it's only on my free time. We finished it - and watched it again - and while it did get repetitive over time, it was, well, fine, I guess. The first seasons are still brilliant, though.

The lockdown was also a chance to finally address the balance and watch the shows that I dropped due to relatively major personal upheavals. I talked here before about how everyone suddenly became Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans years after I talked about loving the show - and dropping it for aforementioned reasons. The same thing happened to Jane the Virgin - yes, I know it's a drama strongly rooted in the telenovela - and only a few months back did I pick that show up again, from the beginning. I think we burned through the last two seasons in one week. What a lovely, consistent show that is.

And then, once again, we run out of shows to watch. I could return to The Good Place - she watched it in full, and I have finished the first two seasons, but as a pretty serialized proposition it's a bit exhausting to binge. What else is there? Shalla may think that I've actually opened myself up a bit to her horror shows, but really, it's because I decided to analyze the production, and also because I realize I like what Mike Flanagan does and how arresting Hamish Linklater is in Midnight Mass.

So we decided to watch another show that she's already watched, a show that I am only slightly familiar with but have never touched with a pole knowingly: How I Met Your Mother.

I mean, it was one of the biggest shows when I wrote about television for a living. I knew about Slapsgiving and Bob Barker and "legen - wait for it - dary" and the yellow umbrella. My sister also watched it many times, so that would leak through in conversations. It just was a show I never deliberately watched, initially because it was never assigned to me, and later, because I just didn't feel like it. (I did see precisely one episode, "Sandcastles in the Sand".)

But now, we need something easy to keep us occupied, so off to 2005 it is. We're in the middle of the third season - and eating through more episodes than we should in one weekend - and I have partly decided to analyze the writing, considering how the show's creators wrote for David Letterman previously. (Outside of the Top Ten riff there's a world-building and randomness that echoes the late night pioneer.) Also, I have precisely two more thoughts.

One, a lot of the plot points from the episodes I've watched would not fly now that the #MeToo movement has soared.

Two, why the fuck is Ted Mosby so damn unlikeable?

If I was watching this contemporaneously, I would've dropped it somewhere in the first season because he's just so damn fucking unlikeable. But, we're sixteen years detached from the premiere (and seven from the finale) and we need something to push intrusive thoughts out, so, well.

And your responses...

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