“And damn it, if it wasn’t the best year of my life,” Future Ted exclaims to his kids about the year he had in Season 4 (2008 into 2009). This mindset can come as a surprise, especially considering that Ted got left at the altar by his fiancee, Stella. A lot of other negative events like getting fired and beaten up (both by a crazy bartender and a goat) also happened to him; yet, in classic Future Ted-fashion, he explains the power of struggle: “Because, if any one of those things hadn’t happened, I never would have ended up in what turned out to be the best job I ever had.”
While Season 4 starts with Stella and Ted getting engaged, that quickly comes to an end with Stella leaving Ted for her ex in the 5th episode of the season. So, I don’t treat that as a focus for the themes from Season 4. The two important themes I see partly come from Future Ted’s quote recapping his year: passion and patience. He had to be patient to stumble upon the best job, one he loved.
Many TV shows revolve around/incorporate work into the story line, so I always enjoy it when shows promote characters finding their passion, finding jobs that they love. It’s reassuring and inspiring that dreams can come true with enough belief and work. HIMYM inspires the audience to follow their dreams and also challenges them as to what is an appropriate job in life. An excellent quote from Larry Smith in his TedxUW Talk “Why you will fail to have a great career” comes to mind regarding passion:
Passion is your greatest love. Passion is the thing that will help you create the highest expression of your talent.
The biggest player of passion in Season 4 is Ted. We watch him struggle with work throughout the entire season, from getting fired on a skyscraper project and then having his small business fail; it was indeed a rough year. There were times when he did enjoy his work, and that made him reflect on what he wanted to do. It further shows that dreams can change. Or that multiple dreams are okay. First, it was Ted’s dream to design a skyscraper, then it became his dream to run his own business, which he has a quote about: “The longer I put off starting my own firm, the longer it can remain a dream and not something I screwed up at. It’s like I’m giving up before I even started,” (“Mosbius Designs”). Of course, Ted tries and eventually fails. Though, having friends around in failure helps turn it into a success. Lily encourages Ted to change his career route in “The Leap”: “Architecture is killing you, Ted, and it’s killing us to watch it killing you.” However, all of that “killing” pays off once he becomes a professor of architecture at the end of the season — a dream he didn’t realize he had. This, too, perhaps starts his highest expression of talent.
While Ted starts to find his passion, we watch Marshall and Robin struggle with their careers in the season. Robin, a journalist, repeatedly complains about some news reporting jobs she has over the year. It proves that she isn’t using her best talent in her current roles. In “Possimpible”, she even states that one job as a lottery announcer “is where broadcast dreams go to die.” Apathetic jobs hurt passionate dreams. Robin reminds us that doing what we love is still possible in “The Stinsons”: “Even at a gig you hate, you still managed to love what you do.” With help from Barney in time, Robin eventually stumbled upon a news anchor job she enjoyed.
On the other hand, Marshall points out how we shouldn’t settle for jobs we don’t love. Even though Marshall doesn’t change careers in Season 4, HIMYM pokes fun at the values of corporations. Marshall has expressed how his dream is to be an environmental lawyer, but at this point he hasn’t started that yet. He quit near the end of Season 3 only to come back to another corporation in the beginning of Season 4. Dreams don’t always work out right away. When Ted was working for the same company as Marshall and Barney, he described them as “heartless.” The season continues to prove how this corporation, Goliath National Bank, doesn’t care about their employees and treats them as disposable, firing them for superficial purposes.
Through evaluating these characters, we wonder what our own passion is and how we can use our highest expression of talent in life. HIMYM characters struggle but eventually come around to what they love, which we particularly see in Season 4. Passion is a great theme to look out for in TV shows, because it might be the most relatable or inspiring.
Patience relates a couple different things from this season, especially finding and acting upon passion, which we see especially through Ted. He waited and suffered through a lot to eventually stumble upon his best job. However, I think it relates to patience of love for Ted and Barney.
One of my favorite parts about this season is how calm Ted is in terms of his love life. Typically, he is nervous and moving quickly with women in his life. Yet, after Stella leaves him, Ted finally learns to be patient in terms of love; he starts to understand that it is something one cannot rush. The best example of this is when he encounters Stella near the end of the season, but doesn’t try anything to get back together with her. He knows he doesn’t need/want her in his life. The viewers discover a more mature Ted, more sure of what he wants in life, which is exciting to root for and connect with in the future.
However, I enjoy watching Barney in terms of patience the most in this season, because he confesses to Lily his love for Robin at the start, but waits until the end to finally talk to Robin and make a move. It’s great to see Barney temporarily bury feelings because he’s both afraid of failing with Robin and upsetting Ted. So, he goes against his natural instincts and waits for something special. It’s evident that this is the first time Barney has had significant feelings for a girl in a long time, a great factor for his development and increasing vulnerability. Additionally, throughout the season, Barney helps Robin grow in her career and even helps her remain a U.S. citizen by finding her work (since Robin is from Canada). All worth it in the end, Barney and Robin finally confront their feelings for each other and hook up in the season’s final episode, hinting at the likelihood of them dating in the future. It seems like they’ll take the leap, just as Ted did for changing his career path.
My Top 3 Season 4 Episodes
- The Leap (Episode 88)*
- Right Place, Right Time (Episode 86)
- Intervention (Episode 68)
*This episode even took part in inspiring me to finally start publishing my writing:
Taking The Leap
Conquering my nerves about publishing writing — it all gets easier from here!
My Top 3 Season 4 Quotes
- “You can’t design your life like a building. It doesn’t work that way. You just have to live it, and it will design itself. Listen to what the world is telling you to do and take the leap.” — Lily Aldrin (“The Leap”).
- “I know it’s scary to bet on yourself, but if you don’t, nobody else will.” — Barney Stinson (“I Heart NJ”).
- “Maybe there are some girls who wouldn’t like it that I called them right away or said things too soon, but guess what? Those aren’t the right girls for me. Maybe the right girl is the one who loves that I do those things because that’s just who I am.” — Ted Mosby (“The Three Days Rule”).
Season 4 was packed with a lot ranging from romance (good and especially bad relationships) to work and dreams to great friendship moments. Everything is leading somewhere, of course to Ted finding his kids’ mother. Passion particularly is an important value in TV shows, which makes me excited for how well HIMYM discusses and analyzes it; there’s certainly more passion to come. Thank you for reading! I hope you’ll continue. Here are other articles relating to value in TV from Making It and HIMYM:
The Value from Making It and Why You Should Watch
A Look into the Lessons and Wisdom from NBC’s New Show