There's a Ted Mosby in all of us. Well, not so much if one's marriage takes the BharatMatrimony route instead of match.com. Even in this disconnect, the common desire to find true love unifies us. We may marry the propah caste girl/boy with wheatish complexion, but we must eventually fall in love with her/him in order to be happy.
That's the premise of How I met your mother. The narrator of the sitcom is an older Ted Mosby (voiceover rendered by Bob Saget) and he somehow finds it necessary to share gory details of his past with his adolescent children. And, no, he will not jump straight to the episode of how he met their mother. He must tell them about the thousand frogs he kissed along the way.
Focal interest in the theme is generated by the endearing optimism of Mosby (played by Josh Radnor). This guy just won't give up till he has croacked out the bitter bile off of all his frogs in Manhattan. Great support is lent by Marshall (good-natured, child-like, mid-Western, monogamous), Lily (Marshall's wife, therefore monogamous, fiesty, control freak) and Robin (Canadian, goofy, emotionally unavailable). But the breakout character is Barney Stintson, played by Neil Patrick Harris whom people of my generation will remember as the overachieving child-prodigy of a doctor in Doogie Howser MD. Barney is a messiah of superficiality and casual sex. There are no frogs in his life. Just princesses on whom he casts a spell for one night. Harris' performance is all the more commendable because he's gay in real life. Kissing all those dumb princesses on screen must take some doing, I suppose. I, for one, can't kiss a dude for all the tadpoles in the world.
As always, I feel that the guest female actors are better looking than the heroines. Barring that, it's a wonderfully inventive comedy that refuses to follow a linear notion of time during most episodes. Situations are revisited multiple times with new insights and/or variations. The drama in each moment is therefore squeezed dry, much like the way our vendors treat sugarcane.
The only reason How I met your mother should remind one of Friends is that both sitcoms depict a dysfunctional, co-dependent group of friends. Otherwise, the genders are treated equally and the characters are allowed to enact some scenes in the open air, allowing for a more free-flowing narrative structure.
And for God's sakes, I'd like to know how Mosby eventually meets his children's mother. We already know so many things about this mysterious lady that I feel the desire to recreate her in my own imagination. I just hope she isn't the Slutty Pumpkin.