TV writing rooms are still very male-dominated, especially on comedy
For nine seasons How I Met Your Mother brought us the wacky misadventures of Ted, Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin. Five New Yorkers struggling to make sense of adulthood in New York City. But even if you never missed an episode of the acclaimed series, you might be surprised to learn some of the things that went down behind the scenes.
- It’s autobiographical. Well, loosely. How I Met Your Mother’s creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays based the show on their own friendship, and the shenanigans they and Thomas’s wife Rebecca got up to while they lived in New York City. They were the first Ted, Marshall and Lily.
- The opening theme song is performed by Thomas and Bay’s band. The song is called, “Hey Beautiful.” Their band is called The Solids.
- Robin could have been Jennifer Love Hewitt. But the Party of Five star turned the role down, paving the way for Colbie Smulders.
- Jason Segel wasn’t the only Freaks and Geeks castmember to audition for How I Met Your Mother. Samm Levine tried out for the part of Barney Stinson. But Neil Patrick Harris beat him out for it. Still, Levine holds no hard feelings. On Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show Levine told the Doogie Howser, M.D. actor did better with Barney than Levine ever would have.
- The writers pulled from the actors’ personalities to shape their characters. Robin’s intense Canadian pride came from Cobie Smulders. Neil Patrick Harris’s skills as a magician were laced into Barney, just as Josh Radnor’s intellectualism and Jason Segel’s obsession with writing silly songs were woven into Ted and Marshall.
- All the scenes involving Ted’s children were shot in season one. Being unsure of how long the series might run (9 years!) the producers decided to shoot everything they could possibly need from Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie. That way the teens’ growth wouldn’t work against the series. This season one shoot included a scene shot specifically for the eventual series finale.
- MacLaren’s Pub was named for one of the show’s crewmembers. Carl MacLaren was show creator Carter Bay’s assistant until 2007, when he was promoted to associate producer on the series.
- A real marriage proposal happened on set. Remember in “Something Blue” when a champagne glass with an engagement ring is presented to Robin, and she assumes Ted’s proposing? Well, the extra who claims the ring then actually did propose to his girlfriend, a huge How I Met Your Mother fan. Though it was filmed, her acceptance had to be dubbed in postproduction because her “yes” was so overwhelmed with emotion.
- The series has spawned a string of books. This includes a written and comprehensive version of Barney’s The Bro Code, as well as Bro on the Go, Bro Code for Parents: What to Expect When You’re Awesome, The Playbook, and How I Met Your Mother and Philosophy.
- It inspired the spin-off How I Met Your Dad. Greta Gerwig was to front the series which would not relate to How I Met Your Mother, except in that it would share a similar sensibility and creators Thomas and Bays. However, after the pilot was shot, CBS declined to pick it up to series.