The series follows the adventures of Ted Mosby (played by Josh Radnor), who narrates the story of how he met the mother of his children. The story goes into a flashback and starts in 2005 with the 27-year-old Ted Mosby living in New York City and working as an architect. The narrative deals primarily with his best friends, including the long-lasting couple Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) and Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan), womanizing-playboy Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), and Canadian news reporter Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders); all of the characters’ lives are entwined. The series explores many storylines, including a “will they or won’t they” relationship between Robin and each of the two single male friends, Marshall and Lily’s relationship, and the ups and downs of the characters’ careers.
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The show’s frame story depicts Ted (voice of Bob Saget, uncredited) verbally retelling the story to his son Luke (David Henrie) and daughter Penny (Lyndsy Fonseca) as they sit on the couch in the year 2030. This future-set frame is officially the show’s “present day”, and How I Met Your Mother exploits this framing device in numerous ways: to depict and re-depict events from multiple points of view; to set up jokes using quick and sometimes multiple flashbacks nested within the oral retelling; to substitute visual, verbal, or aural euphemisms for activities Ted does not want to talk about with his children (sexual practices, use of illicit substances, vulgar language, etc.); and even to add some elements of humor: in the episode “How I Met Everyone Else”, Ted describes his dates with a girlfriend whose name he has forgotten, leading all characters to act as though her given name were “Blah-Blah”; later in the series, Ted remembers her name is Carol.
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