How I Met Your Mother is a sitcom that takes place in New York. Bob Saget is the perfect voice over for Future Ted, and the series is about him telling the entire story to his kids (the reason for which is revealed in one of the episodes).
At the beginning of the series, Ted's best friend Marshall (Jason Segel) proposes to his long time girlfriend Lilly (Alyson Hannigan). Ted (Josh Radnor) realizes that it's time he found the person he was meant to be with and settle down. His friend Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), the ultimate player, has other plans for Ted. He believes that Ted is too young to get married, and instead wants Ted to be his wingman while they go off on adventures of dating—or in Barney's case, elaborately hooking up with and then bailing on—girls. Then Ted meets Robin (Cobie Smulders), the girl of his dreams, who doesn't want anything serious.
Throughout the series, Ted struggles with relationships. Whether it's with long distance, waiting for the slutty pumpkin, or battling his feelings for Robin, Ted longs for the real thing and meets a lot women who just aren't it. He's romantic, a little too honest, and very sincere. He also has to adjust his relationship with Marshall as Marshall and Lilly go from dating to a married couple. Ted's friends teach him how to be a better version of himself, and these things he shares with his kids.
Robin plays the love interest and friend who is determined to conquer her career over everything else. She has dogs and loves guns. Despite her confident nature, serious relationships terrify her, and she doesn't care for children. She plays Barney's wingman in one episode. She works with a myriad of frustrating co-anchors, schedules, and job relocation. Occasionally, Robin longs for her homeland, Canada. A lot of the funniest episodes have to do with Robin's essence and weaknesses which is also true for Barney.
Barney proclaims himself to be Ted's best friend—even though Marshall is. He always wants people to “suit up!” and creates catch phrases that often only appeal to him. He constantly quotes The Bro Code and tries his best to live by it—although no one else does. His antics and schemes to lour girls into his bed are wild, hilarious, and extensive. He makes lists, he has goals, and he sets the stage, all in the name of getting laid. Sometimes, he's even generous to try to get Ted laid, which Ted resists most of the time. He is not above changing costumes multiple times in order to hit on the same girl, telling ladies he's shipping out, building a time machine, etc. As the seasons go on, Barney's acrobatics get a little old, but fortunately the writers dive into his childhood, his first real girlfriend, and what makes Barney tick. Even Marshall and Lilly are wow'd by his efforts and ideas once and awhile, and deep down, Barney is influenced by their solid relationship with each other.
Marshall and Lilly are the ultimate duo in every way, even when they dress up for Halloween together. They occasionally act like parents to the rest of the gang, but they are also the paradigm couple that Ted envies. They compliment each other, and he wants that. Marshall and Lilly are not without their faults, and they come up against the same issues that every couple deals with—moving in together, getting married, cold feet, whether they've been together too long, and if they've had enough of a chance to experience the world. They also debate on how to raise their kids, buy a house, and spend time wondering if they're ready for kids. Without a doubt, they are the heart of the show. Lilly is sweet and positive. Marshall's quirks make him one of the best characters, and his constant support for Lilly is one of his many endearing qualities.
Like Friends, the cast of How I Met Your Mother is an ensemble cast, even though Ted is supposed to be the main character. He often takes a backseat to his friends' stories telling how their experiences not only shaped them but shaped him as well. There are lessons to be learned: when and when not to lose your virginity, how to get a girl, the lament of long distance relationships, getting back together with your ex, and more. Frequently, Future Ted omits information from his kids. At one point, when his neighbors are having loud sex, he refers to it as “playing the bagpipes,” and there are actual bagpipes that play. The holiday episodes are pretty great. How Lilly Stole Christmas is hilarious, and The Slutty Pumpkin might be my favorite Halloween episode of any sitcom or show.
The first season is defined by Ted's determined quest which features his desire to date Robin while grappling with being her friend. Lilly and Marshall have their own difficulties, including whether it's time for them to get married. Season two Ted is dating someone, but things get in the way, like his parents. We also learn how he and Marshall became best friends. Barney tries to become a better friend to Marshall. There's a wedding. The season's most memorable episode reveals an unexpected secret about Robin. By third season, Ted is sick of looking for The One and decides to play things Barney's way. Marshall helps him realize that maybe he's not the man he needs to be when he meets The One. Future Ted reveals information about his future wife. Barney, on the other hand, starts developing actual feelings for a woman and Lilly helps him cope with it.
Ultimately, there is the mystery of how Ted meets his future wife and mother of his children. On his mission we get to meet all the girls and crazy situations Ted finds himself in before he finds The One. The show is about the journey, and the fun had along the way.