We’re running a tournament to find the show that’s doing fast-paced storytelling the best. But we also want your opinion, so make sure to vote below! And keep up with all rounds of the tournament with the Fast-Paced Tourney tag.
I know what plenty of people are thinking already when they see How I Met Your Mother in a tournament about shows that are paced quickly: it took them eight years to actually introduce us to The Mother and the final season is going to take place within a 56-hour window. I get it. I do. There’s no denying that getting to The Mother reveal was a crawl, and getting to where they actually meet might feel like glacial pace. But How I Met Your Mother is more than just The Mother Reveal. In fairness, it deserves to be in a tourney such as this one because it’s one of the most breezy, windy series on television at the moment.
And perhaps there’s no better show to pair it up with than the other series of twentysomethings dating in a big city Happy Endings. Of course, Happy Endings is fast-paced for entirely different reasons, like the fact that it’s one of the few joke-machine sitcoms that spiraled out of the 30 Rock era. Two shows with somewhat different senses of humor that just utilize what we mean by “fast-paced” quite differently.
Still, it’s such a difficult decision, and it pains me, almost.
Let’s begin with Happy Endings, a series known for going a mile a minute with its jokes. It’s true, blink while watching Happy Endings, and you might miss a dozen jokes. (Well, wait, that doesn’t make sense. Just go with it.) The method at which they can economize a sentence to include multiple amounts of one-liners and word play is, at times, masterful. I mean, something just as simple as, “Why the long face, Michael Phelps?” could have me rolling with laughter. And there’s no denying that this was a cast of quite talented individuals. I still contend that Damon Wayans, Jr. was continuously robbed every single year during awards season. And, of course, Happy Endings was a show about subverting everyone’s opinions and clichés. For starters, it’s called Happy Endings but begins with one of our lead characters getting left at the altar … by another one of our lead characters. Plenty of running gags throughout the series’ run were about turning those rooted impressions on their heads.
And then we have How I Met Your Mother, which, at first glance, is quite conventional: multi-cam, laugh track, the whole nine yards. But just like Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. At points, jokes rely on a dizzying flashback and flash-forward momentum. Sometimes, episodes are built entirely around it. Will anyone forget the episode where Marshall has to pick up Lily from the airport? Or more recently, when Robin was talking to her future kids, who were figments of her imagination (or, perhaps a better way to say that is her hopeful creations)? Sure, there have been moments when How I Met Your Mother has lulled (and I’ll be the first to say that some episodes have been downright … well, not good), but even then it can pack an emotional punch. An episode that starts out awful with Barney and Ted just sitting in a bar can soar to unbelievable heights with Ted talking to an imaginary present version of The Mother, in a way that only How I Met Your Mother‘s whimsy can pull off.
For me, that’s what makes it all the more special. We have plenty of shows at the moment that churn out jokes exceedingly fast, inspired by the 30 Rock generation. Some of them are in this tourney, too — Awkward and Veep — but none of them have branded their unique styling the way that How I Met Your Mother has. Yes, Happy Endings is hilarious. But when it wants to be, so is How I Met Your Mother. More so, it makes me feel more than just laughter. That sounds incredibly cheesy and lame, but How I Met Your Mother knows how to take the reins and deliver whatever mood it wants. At points, Happy Endings can stay stuck on the same gear. You know what you’re getting with Happy Endings: joke after joke. With How I Met Your Mother, you could begin an episode with gags about trying to get pregnant, and end it with a scene about Marshall’s father passing away and — who’s cutting onions in this room?
Winner: How I Met Your Mother
This poll closes Thursday, Aug 15, at noon ET. You can vote as many times as you’d like.