Five seasons ago, when How I Met Your Mother began its run, there was speculation about whether or not the show could possibly exist for an extended period of time. The basic notion behind the show – a man is telling the story of how he met his wife to his children – is a good one, and has the potential to make for a great story. Of course, the basic question one must ask about such a story is "How long can it possibly last?" This week How I Met Your Mother puts forth one answer to that question – at least a hundred episodes, and now potentially forever in syndication. With this week's episode, entitled "Girls Vs. Suits," HIMYM hits a magic number for television shows, and it does so in typical laugh-out-loud funny style.
This week finds Ted (Josh Radnor) still searching for the love of his life, and his future self (voiced by Bob Saget) still recounting to his poor children decades down the line what may be the longest shaggy dog story ever. Ted does get a prominent storyline this week – he goes on a date with someone who will lead him closer to the mother. While the series has repeatedly promoted advancements in Ted's quest, this time it actually feels like a real one; no simple passing by someone with a yellow umbrella – or taking that umbrella when it was left at a party – this time out.
Without going into too much depth about that plotline – something that would most definitely spoil it for those invested in the series – we can tell you that Rachel Bilson appears. Bilson is in fact just one of the guest stars this week, with Stacy Keibler and Tim Gunn also appearing. Both of those celebrities, however, have parts in Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) storyline, not Ted.
It is impossible to suggest that Neil Patrick Harris is the series' "break out" star as Harris has had a career for decades, but Harris may have gotten the most notice out of any of HIMYM's stars. Though certainly the least realistic of the characters on the series, Harris's Barney Stinson may certainly be the funniest. Barney is a crude, over the top, womanizing, hugely intelligent and completely ridiculous character. Also, as is crucially important this week, Barney loves to wear suits. It's a love that hearkens all the way back to the series' first episode, when Barney insisted to Ted before they go out for the evening that his friend "suit up!"
This week, as the title of the episode indicates, Barney may have to give up suits as they are pitted against one of his other great loves – beautiful women. In this case, beautiful women are represented by Karina (Stacy Keibler), the hot new bartender at MacLaren's, the bar the HIMYM gang frequents. Karina has issues with men in suits and thus, Barney learns, in order to successfully get her into bed he will have to give up suits. It is a notion Barney struggles with mightily in the episode, and which culminates in a massive musical number.
Though the series' other stars – Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, and Cobie Smulders – do appear in the episode, they are without larger storylines; Radnor and Harris remain front and center for much the night. The other stars are all great parts of the series in general and all deliver laughs tonight, but the show certainly succeeds with the two main stories it presents.
After 100 episodes, it is readily apparent that How I Met Your Mother still has a lot of story (or stories) it can tell. The basic notion around which the series revolves – Ted's search – continues, and the show has done well to move away from the "potential mother of the week" episodes that it found itself repeatedly delving into in the past. Though that plot is interesting, and one wouldn't want to see it disappear from the show, when creators and executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas show that they're not afraid to expand the scope of the story they have been successful. To balance both the future Ted tale and stories of what happens to everyone else is a difficult task, and the producers have done an outstanding job at it.
"Girls Vs. Suits" generates more than one laugh this week, advances the main plot, and features Harris at his best. While Neil Patrick Harris has been nominated for more than one major award for the series (and is up for a Golden Globe on the forthcoming award show), he has failed to win any. Perhaps this week's episode will be enough to garner him the trophy he so richly deserves.
How I Met Your Mother – "Girls Vs. Suits" airs Monday January 11 at 8pm on CBS, and if you haven't met Ted, this would be the perfect time to do it.