CBS airs the 200th episode of "How I Met Your Mother" Monday night, and if you've been waiting for the episode that really explores the mother, this is it. "It's from her perspective; it's called 'How Your Mother Met Me,'" said series co-creator Craig Thomas, "and it's wonderful. If she [Cristin Milioti] doesn't get nominated for a guest Emmy for this episode, I don't know what one has to do to get that." The show's cast and creators sat down with reporters at a celebration of the milestone on the set of the Farhampton Inn, where most of the last season takes place.
Watch a special "HIMYM" 200th episode opening sequence featuring the Mother and her friends:
Only a handful of sitcoms have reached 200, and given the show's early history, this show wasn't a favorite to make it. "I didn't think there would be an episode 100," said Neil Patrick Harris (Barney, the group's resident Lothario), who remembers the first few seasons, when the show was constantly on the bubble of cancellation. Even despite "hard work and great circumstances, it's all very random that we get to be here," he said, citing unfortunate scheduling ("HIMYM" has often gone head-to-head with ratings juggernauts like "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Voice") and the possibility that, for example, they might have "been up against a show that was similar and better."
He's thankful that "CBS and Les [Moonves] and Nina [Tassler] have been truly extraordinary for keeping the show on the same night for nine years and have always represented us well," he continued. "Even though we're not a top-five show, they treated us with respect."
"It's an unbelievable gift," said Jason Segel (Marshall, best friend of Ted). "I'd only been a part of failed TV shows prior to this. Ones that I loved — 'Freaks and Geeks' didn't make it a full season, 'Undeclared' just went one season. I went in with the mentality that you try to do the best job that you can, and longevity is separate. There are so many different factors."
Alyson Hannigan (Lily, wife of Marshall) recalls the unfriendly climate surrounding them at the beginning. "When we started the show, all the questions we got were, 'Oh, so the sitcom's dead. Why are you trying?' And here we are, nine seasons later..."
That ninth season took the pressure off the creators to fulfill expectations for the mother. "That would have been an enormous amount of pressure to meet her and fall in love with her," if they had wrapped the series in Season 8, said Thomas. "And we wouldn't have met Cristin," Carter Bays reminded him (Bays is the other co-creator of the show). Also, said an excited Thomas, "we may never have got to do this idea of what the 200th is, which is really special."
The kind of intricate structural work Bays and Thomas do is one of the things Harris enjoys most about the show. "I think that's what they're doing so well is not only tying up the loose ends, but tying them to the mother. It's really kind of an amazing thing to read as you go. You kind of get tingly, like goosebumps. Not only did they explain that whole thing that we were waiting for the answer to, but it had something to do with the mother who had never even met them yet. It's a really nice structure."
"I always thought it was interesting that this show is about this very transformative, pivotal time in these people's lives," said Josh Radnor (Ted, future husband of the titular mother), for whom these last episodes also mark a time for thinking about the parallels between the series and real life. "This cast making this show — it's been a transformational, pivotal time in all of our lives. A lot's changed. Things have changed, families have grown, careers have taken off, and all sorts of wonderful things. Two hundred episodes and the end of the show can't help but put you in a reflective time and a reflective moment about it, but there's nothing but good feelings."
The cast on the show's iconic props:
"How I Met Your Mother" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS.