Sunday, August 2, 2009

UNDERRATED (Part II)

I know many of you have been waiting in anticipation for the rest of my underrated list. In case you missed it, click here for first part of my list: http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2009/07/underrated.html

The following items, foods, sayings, TV shows, and people have all made my list. They may get acknowledged, but I feel they are underappreciated or taken for granted, and therefore UNDERRATED.

Without further ado, here is the rest of my list:

“HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER”

How I Met Your Mother finally got an Emmy nomination for best comedy series. It’s about time! Does that mean it’s still underrated? I think so. After four successful seasons, How I Met Your Mother still has not caught on with mainstream America in terms of viewers and TV ratings. It will never reach "Friends" status despite being as good if not better. And the question remains: why not?

I first started watching HIMYM 3 years ago when my roommate J-M turned me on to it. I expected nonsense like most modern day sitcoms, but the show was funny, original, clever, and poignant. Although it appears to be a Friends-like show, it actually reminds me more of an R-rated Wonder Years (Danica McKellar aka Winnie Cooper has actually guest starred in 2 episodes.) HIMYM is told in flashbacks and this time Bob Saget is the narrator instead of Daniel Stern. When I watch Wonder Years, it reminds me of my childhood; when I watch How I Met Your Mother, it reminds me of my life today. HIMYM discusses topics such as dating, relationships, sex, drugs/alcohol, food, work, getting older, living in NYC, sports, and pop culture (one of the best compliments I ever received was that my blog was reminiscent to How I Met Your Mother.)

For some reason, How I Met Your Mother is still not that popular. There is definitely a cult following, but that’s about it. Maybe it’s because the cast is unknown, but that’s not really true.

Neil Patrick Harris will always be remembered as Doogie Howser M.D. Since then, he’s made a comeback with the Harold and Kumar movies playing “himself.” And now he is Barney Stinson; the womanizing, catch phrase using, suit wearing, bro-code abiding dude with a heart. NPH has become so popular that he’s hosting the Emmy’s. Hopefully, he’ll be handing himself an Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy series.

Alyson Hannigan is well known for hanging with Buffy and the gang as well as attending band camp in American Pie. She’s reached cult status for both of those roles. Now she plays Lily; the sweet married girl with an edge.

Jason Segel could be remembered from Freaks and Geeks; another show with a cult following. He disappeared for a while, but has reemerged with HIMYM. He plays Marshall; the goofy husband to Lily. He reminds me of one of my best friends who is also married. Segel recently wrote and starred in Forgetting Sarah Marshall which has catapulted him to stardom. Talk about underrated, FSM is one of my favorite movies of the last few years.

Cobie Smulders and Josh Radnor are the two only unknowns in the show. Radnor plays Ted, the main character, who is like a Ross from Friends but not annoying and actually funny. Smulders plays Robin, the hot Canadian tom-girl; kind’ve like Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Mary.

Maybe HIMYM isn’t that popular because it’s not innovative or use enough pop culture references. But that’s not true either.

HIMYM has created its own terminology much like a little show called Seinfeld. Just a few of the terms include: The Hot-Crazy Scale, The Naked Man, Woo! Girls, and The Muraugh List. And if you watch consistently, you start referring to these terms during everyday life (if that’s not Seinfeld-esque, I don’t know what is.)

And if you’re a fan of pop culture references, HIMYM is right up there with Family Guy and The Simpsons. Some references have included: Field of Dreams, Lethal Weapon, Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, Doogie Howser M.D., Late Show with David Letterman and March Madness. And the references aren’t just thrown in for fun; they each have a relevant connection to the story or plot, and are usually funny and spot on.

Maybe the show is underrated because it’s too cheesy? Or maybe because it’s too smart?

Seinfeld made it cool to be a little dark and edgy which is very hard to pull off. Since then, many shows have tried to follow that path. But How I Met Your Mother has stood strong about having a heart and being a little cheesy. At the end of episodes, even the really silly ones, there is a clever lesson to be learned. It makes you think; it makes you smile; and many times, it gives you goosebumps. Once again, it has a Wonder Years feel to it.

The show is incredibly well written. If something happens in the 1st act, it almost always has a pay off by the end of the episode. The sub-plots are generally tied together in a clever and subtle way much like a Seinfeld. HIMYM also plays with time to create original twists that you might not see coming.

Maybe the cheesiness and cleverness is actually too difficult for the average American viewer. Maybe TV has become so simple that How I Met Your Mother actually goes over people’s heads. It’s sad to say, but maybe that’s why it’s so underrated.

Maybe it’s better to be underrated.

Sometimes, shows go downhill once they reach the height of their popularity (see Friends.) The plots get thinner, the characters become predictable, and the laugh track grows louder. So maybe it’s good that How I Met Your Mother is still not that popular. It’s still the underdog and will have to continue to be clever, innovative, and funny to earn viewers.

If you want to give the show a chance, there are re-runs on Monday nights on Lifetime. (Lifetime also shows Frasier, and is turning in to a pretty good network even for guys. Did I just write that?) New episodes appear on CBS on Monday September 21st at 8pm, one night after the Emmy’s.

So I don't know why How I Met Your Mother isn't more popular, but if you start watching, I promise you will soon learn why it’s Legend- (wait for it) –dary!

SPORTS FROM OUR CHILDHOOD

These sports include kickball, dodgeball, wiffle ball, and ping-pong to name a few. It’s taken a while, but lots of these sports/games are making a comeback in the adult world. And it’s about time. These games are all great, but they somehow escaped our minds as we grew up. Many of my friends (men and women) now take part in kickball and dodgeball leagues all over the country. The most popular co-ed league in NYC is called Zog sports. It allows men and women to play old school games together in a competitive yet comfortable atmosphere. Afterwards, they get beers, and try to hook up with one another. It’s a wonderful thing.

Click here for more details on wiffle ball: http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2009/06/summer-fun-wiffle-ball.html

Games like dodgeball allow grown men to unleash their anger and hostility. Throwing a foam ball in someone’s grill could be one of the most cathartic experiences around. My brother is in a league, and said it gets so intense, that one team attacked the referee when they didn’t like a call. Perhaps, childhood games have a way of making one regress into a little kid. While beating the crap out of a college age referee who makes $8/hour is going a little overboard, being youthful and having fun certainly is not.

What about ping-pong?

Billiards caught on with the bar scene, but why not ping-pong? Growing up, I had epic battles with the Erics, and several people at camp. In fact, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like ping-pong. Even people that suck get a kick out of hitting the ball back and forth. If Forrest Gump could master it, maybe you can too. Wouldn’t you be psyched if bars offered ping-pong? I know I would. If I ever build my own bar, ping-pong will definitely be offered, and you are all welcome to play.

THE “BLESS YOU”

Everyone takes the “bless you” for granted until you sneeze one day in front of people, and it is silent. You wait for the words, but they are never spoken, and you feel a little empty inside. And then you realize how great the “bless you” really is.

The “bless you” is the one time strangers can actually recognize each other. I don’t know how it got started, but I like it. It makes everyone feel like they’re a part of something. So when it’s not said, I feel a little sad. Sometimes, I say “bless me”, but it doesn’t have the same effect, and it also makes me feel like a loser. “Gesundheit!” is acceptable as well as “you’re so good looking” in reference to Seinfeld, but I prefer the “bless you.”

Why should people get attention for sneezing? Why not? It’s a tradition that brings people together. The only sneezer I’m wary of is the wild sneezer; he doesn't cover his mouth, there are fluids, and he possibly has the swine flu. This person should still garner the “bless you”, but only from a safe distance.

THE BATH


I still remember a friend calling in me in high school while I was in the tub. My mother answered and explained that I was in the bath. The next day I was teased mercifully by my friends. “You still take baths?” Yes, I am a man. And yes, I love baths.

When we were little kids, we all took baths. We’d play with boats; make bubble beards, and fill up pales and let the water cascade over us. But for some reason, when boys became men, we were supposed to give that all up. But why?

Baths are soothing and peaceful, and they give you time to think and be by yourself. There are no distractions so you can just put your feet up and relax. You can lie in a tub filled with warm water and a mixture of soaps and oils like vanilla, jasmine, ginger, lavender, and honey. Yes, even honey. And if you're really lucky, maybe you can get a girl to join you too.

Unfortunately, there are very few tubs clean enough for a bath so I save them for visits home or really nice hotels.

Even though I’m a man, I openly admit to loving baths. It’s time to we all admitted how great they really are.

THE NAP


In other countries, the nap is highlighted with great importance. The “siesta” or the after lunch nap is quite common outside of the U.S. I don’t know why it never caught on here because naps are amazing. It may be light outside, but you don’t care. You throw on a fan or your AC, crawl on top of your bed, and seal your eyes shut for just a few minutes. Even a 30 minute nap re-energizes your mind and body. You awake with positive energy; with a purpose; with a new found perspective on the day. The only con of the nap is overdoing it. If you sleep for two hours during the day, there’s no way you’re falling asleep at a normal hour that night. But if regulated responsibly, the nap can be an amazing activity.

OTHER PEOPLE’S PARENTS

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. We love our parents, but sometimes they push our buttons, and drive us crazy.

Well, what about other people’s parents? Maybe it’s just me, but I almost always get along with other people’s parents. There is no pressure on me or the parents. We can have serious talks, silly talks, whatever. In the end, they’re not gonna yell at me because they’re not my parents. And I’m not gonna be mad at them for the same reason. As a result, we can just hang out.

Following the same model, my parents love my friends. They often ask me: “Why can’t you be more like so and so? He tucks in his shirt…Wears nice shoes… Has a lovely Jewish wife.”

Parents can only see the positive side of the non-child so they think they’re awesome.

It’s rarely talked about how great other people’s parents can be. That’s why they’re so underrated.

THE SECRET HIDDEN WORK BATHROOM

Everyone needs a place of solitude when doing their business. In the workplace, it can be quite vexing to find a private, uninterrupted, and clean setting. Everyone does their business (except women of course), but you don’t want to feel judged. You don’t want to open that stall door, and be greeted awkwardly by another co-worker who is about to pass out. As a result, you do your best to hold in your business until you get home. But sometimes, that’s just not possible.

That’s when you stumble upon a bathroom that no one else knows about. It’s like finding Atlantis or the Lost City of Gold. Now, you can do your business in peace and quiet. There’s no threat of someone walking in and judging you.

The secret bathroom will always be underrated because it can never be spoken about. If you tell a co-worker, it will no longer be your special place. Instead, take a moment now and just appreciate the secret, hidden work bathroom if you are lucky enough to have one. ("How I Met Your Mother" uses this as a plotline in a recent episode; I pat myself on the back for writing about it years ago although I have no way to prove it.)

THANK YOU

Good manners can be a little underrated. So thanks again for reading. Now go watch How I Met Your Mother.

2 comments:

ilona said...

I just recently caught up on all 4 seasons of HIMYM and I agree with you! I hate to say that it's better than Friends because Friends is my favorite show, but it is definitely just as good.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to comment on the fact that you talk about the The Office Massage Guy in part 1 of your UNDERRATED blog but didnt mention his guest apperance in HIMYM season 4. Just thought that everyone should know that one of your underrated things was in another underrated thing. Oh and if you were wondering when in season 4 I am talking about, it is the episode when Barney(NPH) and Marshall (Jason Segel) try to come up with who in the work place Marshall wants to be and they just discuss the exsisting work place people hince The Office Massage Guy!


P.S. HIMYM is the best comady ever!! Even better then Arrested Development(which is also underrated)