how i met your mother 2

The success of any television show heavily depends on how it reaches it audience. People watch shows and a filtering process begins. A person decides what messages to take in and which ones to ignore for any given type of media. For television shows, the audience must acknowledge and filter in the correct message the writers of a show want to portray. The audience makes sense of these messages and match it to learned definitions and this is where the meaning matching process begins. Meaning matching is being able to pick up on references and matching them to meanings we have memorized for those references.

In television shows, making us think about a storyline as if it had happened in our personal lives or if the show’s audience could relate to a character or particular situation could really get many hooked to that particular show. Different shows have different methods of doing this. Even though many shows share the same idea, many execute their strategies differently. A show that can hook its audience by expressing ideas that people could relate to, whether it’s through a character or the plot itself, will be successful in its ratings. A show that manages to pull it off is CBS’ How I Met Your Mother.

The idea of telling your kids the day you met your wife (their mother) may sound like a boring story and a horrible show plot. Writers found the right formula to mix romance, sex, relationships, and comedy all in one to create this hit show. In this analysis I will break down what the show is made of from the obvious visual to the more in-depth hidden values and messages that are coded within the show. This show came to my presences while I was on a plane and the airline showed an episode that got me hooked strictly based on the comedy.

It had the elements that I looked for in a show and the timing of comedy was perfect. I, yes me, was hit with one of many of their strategies on how to target their audience. My friend who was sitting next to me on the plane also was hooked but because of the relationship struggles that is tied into the show. How I Met Your Mother had characters that everyone of its target audience could relate to. You are transported into the story and are identifying yourself to a particular character. Each character in HIMYM has a purpose and there is a reason why each one is different.

The engaged (later married) couple, Marshall and Lilly (played by Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan), seem to be attached at the hip and share an almost sickeningly sweet relationship that is not flawless but makes you secretly melt on the inside. The looking-for-love Ted (Josh Radnor) had a crush on a common friend Robin (Cobie Smulders). After a series of strange dates with stranger women the show gives off the vibe that Ted and Robin are married with two children whom Ted narrates this story to. And then there is the 5th wheel, Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris).

Barney is the most powerful element the show has. It keeps the story from getting boring by bringing in his so “awesome” character and playboy lifestyle that many men idolize. So what does each character do to the show? Ted is the desperate romantic looking for his other half. His struggle consists of falling in love and the other woman not being interested at the end so his struggle continues to the next episode. Struggle, crisis, and stressful situations is what the show is about. Common situation its audience faces is key to keeping viewers intact.

Many lonely singles could relate and transport themselves into Ted’s character and feel his pain of break ups, dating strangers, and being used. Marshall and Lilly are the advice givers and more like the parents of the show. Their relationship is twisted with giving Lilly the power of the relationship. Marshall is too soft and loving it affects his daily tasks in life. His struggle is trying to be rude or breaking rules. His character is there to calm down and make everyone think twice of his or her choices. Robin is the single good looking female. It is no surprise they casted her for this part.

Looks alone grab higher ratings and she’s there to show sex appeal. Her character is regularly humiliated and many immoral subliminal messages are used with her character (I’ll get into that later). Mr. Awesome, Barney Stinson, is there to break the ice and push sexual content through his character. Using comedy HIMYM expresses sexual content that many of its audience might not always notice if they are auto-pilot. If you seen enough episode you would know that his character was not always as tough as he comes off. “Barney had been an innocent idealistic young man who wanted o join the Peace Corps with his one and only serious girlfriend Shannon” (http://www. articlesbase. com/art-and-entertainment-articles/the-life-of-barney-stinson) Barney’s character holds a lot within that is not always directly portrayed in the show. Just like the rest of the characters, Barney also has a struggle. His past is what hurts him the most. Women have emotionally beaten him in the past to the point where his hidden anger is taken out by proving that no woman is good enough for him. His way of fighting back is by scamming women into thinking that he is the best man on earth just to sleep with them.

I decided to watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother in a way where I could try to break down as many elements as possible. As I stated earlier, Robin’s character holds subliminal messages about how women should be treated. Immediately I noticed sexual objectification of women in the opening scene. The men go outside to their doorstep on November 1st, day after Halloween, to watch women do the “walk of shame” in their costumes. They refer to it as a parade as if the women were there as objects for them to see. One of the women they notice is Robin, dressed in a sexually appealing nurse costume.

What she did the previous night is not talked about but is clearly implied by the reactions of the men. Robin’s struggle is now presented to the viewers. The show then goes to Ted on his way to teach his class and he comes across a group of protesters protesting one of his future architectural work on a building. His struggle for the episode is also now set. Marshall is now seen talked about how he is struggling at work dealing with an employee and how he does not have a cold heart to fire anybody, even if they deserve it. All these jumps are quickly done and are not noticeable because of the narration.

A lot, if not most, of the show takes place at a bar. This is their meet-up place and where their stories are discussed. The bar to any other viewer may just be a hang out place but when it is broken down to what it stands for it makes a lot more sense why a bar was chosen over other location like a characters’ home. The bar keeps it open for a character to come in at anytime or leave at anytime. Also they are seen drinking as they discuss and talk about their struggle. It is almost as if the bar is the place where you can get rid of troubles and drink them away. Just like the men, Robin and Lilly talk about their sex life at the bar when he guys are not around. The sexual content goes beyond direct comments about sex but also includes many jokes about sex. In this episode Barney made comments such as “Marshall popped his cherry” referring to how Marshall was finally able to do something mean a fire an employee. There’s another part when a friend of Marshall describes how he fantasies about Robin in the shower. Sex is big part of this show. You mix sex with comedy and a good story line and its hard not to get attention. The interesting part of HIMYM is that it tells a story and within that story it goes into mini flashbacks.

This format is what makes the show a lot more interesting because a visual is now provided to what any given character may have been discussing in the show. A forgotten element is usually how advertisers play a role in a television shows. Commercials that air on this show are mostly targeting a younger audience. A lot of restaurant commercials run during commercial breaks. Commercials are well balanced between men and female target. Commercial for men include: Windows laptop, iPhone 3GS, Burger King, and Carl’s Jr. Women get commercials like face wash endorsed by Kristen Bell, Target, Kmart and Groupon.

This show has a solid rating that reaches 4. 7 million people of the age of 18-49 (http://www. usatoday. com/life/television/news/nielsens-charts. htm). In today’s world even the media uses other media to get a greater audience. HIMYM has a Facebook with thousands of fans and could get a message out instantly to masses. Yesterday, HIMYM used Facebook to let its fans know that the show has been picked up for another two seasons. The show is still strong without having to reveal who the mother is. In fact you get sucked in that you forget that the purpose of the show is to find out who the mother is.

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