HIMYM: Everything That Was Supposed to Happen in 2020

It’s fair to say that the 2000s sitcom How I Met Your Mother couldn’t be expected to predict the events of 2020, but it’s also fun to see just how wrong the show’s version of the year was. Beginning shortly after Friends wrapped up its ten-season run, the cult hit How I Met Your Mother filled the hang-out sitcom void with an impressive ensemble cast including standout star Neil Patrick Harris and a clever, inventive hook.

As implied by the title, How I Met Your Mother told the (endlessly convoluted) story of how lovelorn sad-sack Ted Moseby met and married the love of his life. The sitcom was narrated by Future Ted as he looked back on his twenty-something existence and charted the highs and lows of his life and those of his friends, Barney, Lily, Robin, and Marshall.

Although How I Met Your Mother received solid reviews throughout its nine-season run, the series infamously infuriated many viewers with its divisive finale. But there’s no denying that, finale flaws and all, How I Met Your Mother made the most of its ambitious premise by putting together storytelling tricks that most other hang-out sitcoms couldn’t have hoped to pull off. Episodes like “No Tomorrow”, which was told partially in reverse, or “The Pineapple Incident”, which hinged on imperfect memory blurring the story, made extensive use of the show’s unreliable narrator. However, How I Met Your Mother’s many 2020s predictions didn’t prove quite so ingenious. All it takes is a rundown of the show’s scenes set in 2020 and 2021 to show that the NYC-set sitcom didn’t see COVID coming, not to mention some substantial changes in the political climate both at home and abroad.

Marshall Became A New York Supreme Court Judge

According to How I Met Your Mother’s flash-forwards, 2020 was the year when, in a last-minute upset victory against Joe Manganiello’s Brad Morris, Jason Segel’s career-climbing Marshall lost his hair but gained the impressive position of New York Supreme Court Judge. Certain he had lost, Marshall ended up delivering a drunken on-air victory speech wherein he promised to make Batman work harder “for Gotham” by using the Bat-signal even for “smaller stuff, like shoveling snow or if a place horse dumps in the park.”

Interestingly, this prediction for 2020 does have some connection to the reality of the year, although the link between How I Met Your Mother’s events and real life is a little tenuous. During 2020, not only was there a general election, but a real-life seat on the Supreme Court was up for grabs near the end of the year. Alas, the seat did not go to fictional sitcom character Marshall Erickson. Instead, the vacancy left by Ruth Bader-Ginsburg went to the controversial Republican appointee Amy Coney Barrett after a record-fast nomination process that took place in the weeks before Donald Trump’s general election loss to Joe Biden.

Robin And Ted Reunite On The Street

In another inaccurate 2020 prediction, Ted is delivering one of his trademark boring lectures about architectural history, and his long-lost love Robin walks into him, with the pair reuniting and sharing a hug for the first time in years. What they don’t do, however, is what anyone meeting on the street in 2020 would do (particularly in a densely populated urban center like How I Met Your Mother’s setting New York), which is maintain an appropriate, if admittedly awkward, social distance. Particularly Ted who, despite his love for Robin throughout HIMYM, is consistently depicted as a stickler for following the rules.

Marshall, Lily, And Ted Attend Their College Reunion

As unlikely as it may seem given the social distancing guidelines that precluded large indoor gatherings for much of 2020, How I Met Your Mother’s Ted, Lily, and Marshall all attended an in-person college reunion during the year according to the show’s continuity. Marshall also produces some cannabis that he “confiscated from some kids” during the function, which checks out since even if the drug were completely legalized, it’s unlikely that minors would be able to purchase it. However, the subsequent conversation between Lily and Marshall wherein he asks her permission to grow cannabis behind their garage and she resignedly reminds him they’re in their 40s raises an interesting question regarding How I Met Your Mother’s relationship with reality when it comes to the question of cannabis legality.

The scene makes it seem as though, between Marshall wanting to grow weed and the gang smoking a joint in an open-air auditorium, the drug is legal or at least large socially de-stigmatized by the time How I Met Your Mother’s version of 2020 rolls around. This prediction was right on the verge of accuracy, but once again COVID foiled the plans laid out by the writers of How I Met Your Mother. Cannabis was almost legalized throughout New York in January 2020, but became a less pressing priority for state legislators like Marshall and was delayed indefinitely when the COVID pandemic hit the city the same month. The substance now exists in the legal quagmire of being largely decriminalized but not formally legalized, something that, to be fair, could be the case in How I Met Your Mother’s college reunion scene (although Marshall would probably want to avoid smoking so much at a public event, given his impending election to the Supreme Court).

Wendy The Waitress Honeymoons In Hong Kong

This one would be doubly unlikely, with the worldwide travel restrictions in place throughout 2020 being the obvious reason that the minor How I Met Your Mother character Wendy the Waitress and her Marshall-hating husband would be unlikely to leave the US during the year (particularly not their home of COVID hotspot New York City). However, the secondary, less likely reason that Wendy and her husband would be unlikely to enjoy a relaxing holiday in Hong Kong is that the area remains in a state of civil unrest due to widespread protesting and has done for some time now, making Hong Kong a less-than-popular pick for civilian tourists traveling from the US even pre-the COVID pandemic. It’s another case of How I Met Your Mother’s writers not only failing to predict a worldwide pandemic but also inaccurately guessing the minutiae of the international political climate. Also, there are still no phones that project a hologram of the person you’re calling while you call them, one of which Ted uses in this same scene.

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