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