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November 28, 2014

Top TV Stories of 2008: Britney on How I Met Your Mother

by Brett Love, posted Dec 31st 2008 9:00AM
Britney Spears, Josh Radnor - How I Met Your MotherDoes the title of this post have you groaning and asking yourself, "Why are we talking about this again?" If so, I'm familiar with the feeling. It's how I felt earlier this year as the gossiperati (for lack of a more disparaging term) were putting the full court press on Britney Spears. And that was just because she went shopping, or bought a Slurpee, or something ... I didn't really pay much attention to those reports.

Suffice it to say, while it may have been for all the wrong reasons, Britney had once again captured the attention of the public at large. It's an important bit of this story, because it speaks to both why she was brought in to guest on HIMYM, and why I hated it from jump street. I certainly wasn't alone in that, as most of the TV Squad staff, and 36.9% of the readers that voted, named her for the What The *#@#%! Were They Thinking Award.

In that post, Joel quoted me as saying, "You could have thrown a quarter outside the HIMYM studio and hit an actress that would have done better with that part than Britney did. It was stunt casting at its worst, and I think HIMYM should be above that." And that's still how I feel. Joel also brought it up with the creators, and they stuck to their guns, saying "I don't think we would have done it if we didn't feel in our guts like this would be fun and interesting." To their credit, they also admitted that part of the reason they brought Britney in was for the ratings.

This is where I find myself on a different page than the team over at HIMYM HQ. I think it was solely, and completely, about the ratings. If the show had been on the streak it enjoys now, Britney never would have been a consideration. She wasn't hired because of her fantabulous comedy acting credits (and no, Chaotic doesn't count). She was hired because she was in the headlines. Call it fun and interesting all you want; that's not the business this show should be trafficking in. Maybe it's just because I'm a fan of the show, but I do think it's above pandering to fans. It's smart, and clever, and shouldn't have to resort to stunts like this.

And there's the rub. It "shouldn't have to" resort to those stunts, but what if it hadn't? Would we be enjoying this season of the show? It seems almost strange to consider now, with the recent successes of the CBS Monday, but there was a lot of questioning about the future of the show last spring. And right when the show needed it the most, Britney's episode delivered record ratings. So, the stunt worked. If it was that last little bit that got the show a renewal, maybe it was worth it. I still don't like it. Maybe you do. We'll probably never agree on that. But I think we can agree that it was one of the big stories of 2008.

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Ryan

While I didn't like the stunt casting, it seemed to be just the needed ratings kick that HIMYM needed *and* bring Britney back from the edge.

Thinking HIMYM as cancelled brings more shivers to my spine than Britney's acting.

December 31 2008 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy

Personally, I hate the Britney episodes, but if they served the purpose of bring in more viewers, then great. Sadly, the current season has been mediocre at best. Not even Barney is as funny as he used to be.

December 31 2008 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dorv

Wow, I completely missed those awards (Or, don't remember them ;) ).

See, I didn't think Brittney did that bad of a job, nor was she horribly miscast. While the performance didn't rise to the level of say, Dame Judy Dench, or anything, it was workable, and not that disruptive.

The episode holds importance for me, because it was also the first episode for Sarah Chalke's Stella, and it was before the assassination of her character so the viewers ultimately wouldn't want her with Ted.

December 31 2008 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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