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HIMYM doesn't need guest stars like Britney, says Neil Patrick Harris

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 10th 2008 8:30PM
Neil Patrick HarrisHere is Reason #243 why I like Neil Patrick Harris, or NPH as people have taken to calling him: He thinks that How I Met Your Mother is perfectly OK without all the guest stars. And, yes, that includes that nutty gal from Louisiana.

"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."

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watched one episode, then stopped. however did watch the clips of britney. if i watch it, that will be the episode i watch. britney's just figuring out who she is, digging herself out of the craziness that has been her life since her teens. she was bound to crash sooner or later. let's give her a hand an help her back up. the blame for her fall lies more on the adults who raised her to be the money maker so they wouldn't have to.

April 12 2008 at 7:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't get it. Why would Alicia Silverstone have been so much better other than that she's blonde? When did Silverstone become a great actress? I was totally fine with Elliot showing up and I think Britney Spears did a great job. I laughed a lot.

I think you folks are all to much into the details. But I can understand that people might not enjoy those episodes as much if they can not detach themselves from the hype and enjoy the episode as-is. I know I can't watch "Bones" because I think the science in that show is totally idiotic. Other people can get past that and have a lot of fun. I can't. I am glad I can simply overlook who's playing what on HIMYM and laugh. And honestly I think the "bracket" episode wasn't as funny. And i loved the 2 minute date. That was typical Ted and still it got criticized. So in the end it seems even if we get rid of the stunt-casting there would still be plenty o' things the critics won't like.

April 11 2008 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Simon S.

A month ago he had nothing but praise for her:


My theory is that she borrowed his mascara and never returned it.

April 11 2008 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

IMHO, on some of the later episodes of Will & Grace with the stunt casting, the stories were only a way to get that guest star on the show. Not part of the overall wackiness that was great about it. There were some exceptions - Molly Shannon as the crazy upstairs neighbor.
I hope HIMYM isn't going to throw out the overall story just to put someone in the show. I didn't think Britney was terrible, but how much better would it be if Alicia Silverstone had remained as the dermatologist over a multi-episode arc rather than just a one-show appearance by Chalke. I thought I read that Silverstone dropped out feeling like her appearance/performance would've been over looked by Britney's guest starring.

April 11 2008 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NPH ... shut up and act. Hundreds of people work on your show ... a show that is sliding in viewership. They need to have jobs. Easy for you to walk away when the show ends sooner than it might have otherwise to your castle of Doogie Howser money.

April 11 2008 at 9:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm with NPH on this one. Brit Brit ruined the love for me. I haven't been able to watch the show since her appearance and I was a hardcore loyal fan. Britney was a ratings grab, the average joe doesn't rush to tune in when Wayne Brady is on or Jane Seymour. It's not exactly news worthy but Brit is a publicity hound. I think all they were thinking of was the press they'd get. I think it's a bit of a sell out because her people came to them and they could have said no, and kept some integrity, but they had the ratings game in their thoughts.

April 11 2008 at 7:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NPH is delusional. yes the writing is great, acting is acceptable etc.. etc.. but this show is CONSTANTLY on the bubble, so what kind of drugs is he on that he can say they dont NEED celebs like britney and friends??

maybe they SHOULDN'T have to need high profile guest stars, maybe smurfs are real too.

fact is, no viewers = cancellation. so right now they NEED all the help they can get. its not an ideal world we live in, so wake up NPH and smell the numbers!

April 11 2008 at 3:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to agree with NPH, the show should be focused on "how I met your mother", rather than "how we met a big celebrity". I don't see anything wrong with celebs on a sitcom, but just for PR reasons, then that is when its unnecessary. I understand CBS needs viewers, but when these "reality" shows are on then most people will watch those or dvr HIMYM and watch the other. You can't forget the strike; a lot of people probably get tired of looking to see if a show is new or not because some of them will air 3 or for new shows and then show reruns and then 3 or 4 new ones and so on.

April 11 2008 at 12:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tv junkie

they don't need stunt casting on the will&grace level and i don't think the producers were ever planing on doing stunt casting all the time. however, britney spears' appearance did help the rating and probably guarantee another season of the show...so Harris is a bit foolish to talk trash about spears' stunt casting...which was the best thing that happen to her (career) and the show (securing another season) in recent memory.

April 10 2008 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While I generally agree with this kind of statement for this show, I must say that Wayne Brady has been a great recurring role and I wouldn't mind seeing him more often.

April 10 2008 at 10:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Graham's comment

Agreed. Love the Wayne.

Other than the OMGBRITNEY hype, I actually haven't been bothered by the stunt casting on this show. Other than Britney, nobody "stood out" enough from the show's regular world enough to bug or bother me.

That said, cheers to NPH for saying this. We don't want OMGBRITNEY hype every dang week.

April 11 2008 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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