In its sixth season, CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother,” a sitcom about how Ted (Josh Radnor) meets his wife, returns to its roots with ample plot and character development, and endless hilarity along the way.
“How I Met Your Mother”
Season Six Midseason
Mondays at 8 p.m.
Season six sees Robin (Cobie Smulders) getting over a serious breakup, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) unwillingly learning about his father, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) trying to have a baby and Ted working as a Columbia professor and architect for Goliath National Bank.
After the stagnancy of Ted’s dating life and Lily and Marshall’s married life in season five, romance is more than welcome in the landscape of the new season. The babymaking process is getting a little tedious, but the fact is, that’s just how long it takes. Meanwhile, the sexual tension grows between Ted and his new frenemy, Zoey (Jennifer Morrison, “House”). Morrison plays Zoey as someone who is clearly used to getting her own way and is enraged when Ted doesn’t comply; the result is a well acted, albeit annoying character composed of equal parts sass and sweetness to set the hopeless romantic in Ted reeling. Is Zoey our mother? Only time will tell. It’s always fun to watch Ted fall into a new relationship, but not knowing if he marries Zoey is half the suspense (OK, all the suspense).
Despite this anticipation, either way, the answer won’t be very satisfying. The anticipation of Ted and Zoey’s will-they-won’t-they relationship is one of the most intriguing elements of the new season. None of Ted’s previous girlfriends have started out with vendettas against him, let alone been married to slightly sinister billionaires during the flirting. But if Ted reveals that Zoey isn’t the titular mother, there goes any audience investment in their relationship. If he confirms that she is, that gives the show an undeniable sense of finality. Even if there’s still romance and marriage to look forward to, the fact will be unchanged: I’ve met your mother. There you go.
Season six also boasts episodes that can stand alone. “Glitter” guest-stars the Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger in the titular role and introduced a new Robin Sparkles video — though in all fairness, the episode belongs to Alan Thicke (“Growing Pains”) and his creepy-or-just-Canadian cameo in the girls’ lives. “Natural History” may be the funniest episode the show has ever had, with serious and pivotal conversations interspersed between pairs of main characters. Also, wieners and gonads. The Thanksgiving episode, “Blitzgiving,” guest-starred a hilarious Jorge Garcia and served as the producers’ quiet tip-of-the-hat to “Lost” and its ensemble.
The thing that people either love or hate about “HIMYM” is its uncanny resemblance to a certain ’90s sitcom about half a dozen 20-somethings and their own adventures in New York City. Some see this similarity as negative, a creative copout that uses the “Friends” formula to recreate success. Maybe so, but it’s more than that.
“How I Met Your Mother” is exactly what we need in a world that still finds itself craving Central Perk too often. It’s “Friends” for our time; “Friends” with more sex and alcohol, corporate jobs, nonlinear storytelling and smaller cell phones. And yes, it’s formulaic, but it works. Barney, Robin, Ted, Marshall and Lily feel as much like our friends as Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey, Monica and Phoebe.
And that level of success from the “HIMYM” team is nothing short of legendary.