Tonight, How I Met Your Mother ends its 9-year run by revealing, finally, how mopey-ass Ted Mosby finally met the woman who would eventually let him put two babies in her. But devotees of the show know that it's about a lot more than inside jokes among a group of unusually clever and often drunk friends. They know it also serves as a zeitgeisty political time capsule that captures the evolving attitudes of a generation like few other shows did.
At least, that's according to Mother Jones' Asawin Suebsaeng, who offers a helpful rundown of all the ways that the show is actually kind of a pinko hive secretly indoctrinating the masses with liberal ideology. Awesomely.
For starters, there's Barney, an intractable douchebag who works for a bank that contributed to the financial meltdown. Then there's the time Marshall quit working at the same bank because he was wracked with liberal guilt over his role in destroying the global economy... to go work at an environmental advocacy group. Because the show aired during a time when America's views on gay marriage were collectively swinging to viewing same sex unions favorably, it was in a unique position to feature characters that evolved on the issue, too. Where shows like Sex and the City (which also occurred during a Historically Significant Era) glossed over politics, HIMYM dove in, highlighting the housing crisis (and its ensuing blowback in the lives of the young middle class), disparities between Canadian social policies and American ones, marijuana use, the decline of local journalism, guns, and the pop cultural resurgence of James Van Der Beek and Britney Spears' circa 2008 comeback attempt. Which as important a political issue any, I suppose.
The show wasn't without its missteps; this season an attempt to lampoon kung fu films went decidedly sour with activists who accused the show of "yellowface" (show creators admitted wrongdoing and apologized). And, like most TV that take place in New York, it woefully misrepresents the apartment quality available for the budget of late twentysomethings living on the Upper freakin' West Side (also it misrepresents the population of young people who currently live on the Upper freakin' West Side).
Because of its relentless dated cultural and political references, How I Met Your Mother will likely be remembered by future TV nerds as one of the most quintessentially of-the-moment shows the naughties had to offer. If you haven't been watching it, you can catch it in syndication. Or on repeat at a 2012 party thrown by twentysomethings in the year 2030.