I’ve been giving the sitcom How I met Your Mother a chance lately and I like it so far.

(Of course, the premise is a wee bit troubled: the idea of dedicating a plot to explaining to one’s future children how one discovered their mom is nice, I think, for a defined timeline such as a movie, but in the case of an open-ended TV series, it seems too difficult for the writers to keep each episode on point considering they don’t know when exactly to bring the mother in, and so in turn they don’t know how exactly to relate each show to her eventual arrival. Instead, as far as I can tell from my few initial viewings, the show has quickly become just as much about following and laughing at the surrounding characters as it is worrying about the initial basis for the show.)

But, as my sisterly advisor to HIMYM explained to me, if you don’t worry about the loose-premise-connection, it’s a decent sitcom.

To that end, I would like to compliment some writing I enjoyed in a recently-viewed episode, wherein one of the characters (I believe it was Lily) was explaining to another character why her friends Robin and Barney might have difficultly dating. The dialogue (I’m paraphrasing) went a little something like this:

LILY: The problem is they’re both… honey, what’s the nice word for “selfish”?

MARSHALL: “Independent”.

LILY: Yes, they’re both independent.

Hee, hee, well played, HIMYM.

I think it’s a well-delivered point that one person’s criticism can with, slight re-wording, become another person’s compliment. Let me try coming up with some other words that could be “HIMY-Mothered” into compliments:

Loud and ObnoxiousGregarious
IgnorantFan of The Matrix  (Okay, I guess that one was a lateral move, hee, hee.)
ForgetfulAbsentminded (professor)
Homicidal Over-population-reducing

It’s harder than I imagined: my favourite is still the original “selfish” to “independent”: so my humbled compliments to the HIMYM writing staff. In fact, double that, because I am reminded of News Radio (one of the top 5 sitcoms of all time until Phil Hartman’s departure), and its wordplay regarding the different versions of pretty.

LISA: …I did not ask for this stupid award.

BETH: If I were you I would be upset, too, I mean, you? Cute? Come on.

LISA: Well… I’m not entirely… uncute. I… why are you being nasty about this?

BETH: I’m not being nasty. You’re pretty. You’re very pretty, in fact. But cute? I don’t think so.

LISA: Well, I wasn’t aware that there was a difference.

BETH: Of course there’s a difference. Pretty means pretty. Cute means pretty, but short and/or hyperactive, like me.

LISA: Ahuh. Well, what’s beautiful?

BETH: Beautiful means pretty and tall.

LISA: Gorgeous?

BETH: Pretty with great hair.

LISA: Striking?

BETH: Pretty with a big nose.

And so on for my amusement (see the video below for the full scene).

Note: A portal to the future that takes place after I finally finish viewing HIMYM is now available! Will I support my above assessment, or will there be a SethBlogs vs. SethBlogs battle. Tune into this link to find out!


  1. Love the list! I’ve had to use many careful rewording myself … my favourite is “zany” which my brother always used to describe his coworker who was crazy (and not in a good way).

  2. Thanks, meggles. You’re pretty zany yourself! Kidding. 😉 Thanks for the worthy addition to the list: keep ’em coming.

  3. fun! what about “happy” to describe someone who’s oblivious? or…yeah, you’re right, nothing tops independent.

  4. Hee, hee, thanks, lechuchotement: I like that one. Especially when I fit it into the conversation in the show…

    “Marshall, what’s the nice word for ‘oblivious’?”


    Not bad at all. Now I suggest we aim to come up with negative words to make ourselves feel better about other people’s good qualities…

    “Marshall, what’s the nice word for ‘happy’?”


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