HIMYM doesn't need guest stars like Britney, says Neil Patrick Harris
"I worry that if they start Will and Grace-ing us too much, that the show will suffer, " NPH told Erin Carlson of the AP. He's referring to the fact that W&G spent many of its later years building comedy around a parade of high-profile guest stars. He went on to say that "we're all really proud of the content of the show. I mean, viewership is not our game. It's the network and the studio's game, you know. It's the promotion department's game."
NPH feels he's in "the minority" with his view, according to the article, and he thinks the fact that the show is opposite Dancing with the Stars (or, as he calls it, "an awkward reality dancing competition") has caused the network, as well as creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, to scramble for viewers.
I've never been a fan of HIMYM's stunt casting; the chemistry between the show's five stars is so good that guest stars usually slow things down. I can remember episodes that ground to a halt even when the guest star was a proven comic actor, like when Bryan Cranston guested twice last season as Ted's boss. NPH seems to feel the same way, and I applaud him for saying so.
Everyone knows what happened when shows like W&G, Friends and Mad About You started larding their shows down with guest stars; people were too busy going "Hey, there's Madonna / Brad Pitt / Yoko Ono!" than actually caring about the content of the episodes. The AV Club recently published a list of ratings-grubbing guest spots from the last 30 or so years, and Brit Brit's appearance on HIMYM ranked an alarming third. For fans of the show (and, as most people who read this site know, I'm one of the show's biggest boosters), they'd rather see more episodes like "The Bracket", where most of the humor comes from the interaction amongst the gang, than more guest spots like the one from Ms. Spears.
Of course, TV is a business, and Bays and Thomas know that any little bit helps, especially for a show that's constantly on the bubble, like theirs is. "We had no illusions about what the stakes were," Bays told Carlson. "And if it was classic stunt casting, like, 'Oh, my tour bus broke down outside' and I just go, 'Wow, Britney Spears, what are you doing here?' then, like, we're just flying over that shark real fast. It was a great character and I think she played it well."