Note: This article contains a couple of spoilers for people who haven’t yet seen HIMYM (or most notably, the series finale). And if you’re one of those people, you’re really missing out.
Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ’97, the co-creators, co-writers, and co-producers of How I Met Your Mother returned to campus on Saturday night. Their hit CBS sitcom ended last spring, with its finale garnering 12.9 million viewers (brag moment: that’s 2 million more than Breaking Bad’s finale). Scott Higgins, Chair of the College of Film and the Moving Image, asked them a range of questions before opening it up to a very excited audience. Here’s a roundup of the good stories and choice quotes from the night.
1. It turns out that Jason Segel was testing for both HIMYM and another series created by former Freaks and Geeks writers. After his HIMYM audition, he told Bays and Thomas that he liked their pilot more and was going to purposely bomb the other audition as to avoid any sort of potential conflict. Bays and Thomas have yet to see that other audition tape.
2. According to Bays and Thomas, the character of Barney was originally conceived as a fat dude, which helped them sell their show to CBS (because “fat dudes are funny!”). In the end, their casting the choice came down to either Neil Patrick Harris or another more rotund actor. But, after Harris did backflips in his laser tag audition scene, Bays and Thomas decided “that’s the motherfucker we want to go to battle with.”
3. Bays and Thomas decided to make the Mother’s umbrella yellow because a red umbrella would look like the Travelers Insurance logo and the series already had a blue french horn. Plus, yellow “looks good in a rainstorm.”
4. Bays and Thomas loved sneaking Wesleyan references into the scripts, and by the end of the series, their writers who didn’t go to Wesleyan would pitch more Wes jokes than they did (“This scene’s funny because they’re high, get it?!”).
5. Both Bays and Thomas addressed the controversial series ending, with Thomas saying, “I never knew how much people cared about the show until they freaked the fuck out about the ending.” Bays mentioned how death is part of any relationship, pointing out that, “…if you leave the camera running on When Harry Met Sally, this is what happens.” Both also articulated how they wanted a series that showed life over time and life over chapters. Referring to Ted and the Mother’s chapter, Thomas asked, “Does something have to last forever for it to have mattered?”
6. On their years at Wesleyan, Thomas points out that, “It was a time when everything specific was sincere and mattered.” Also, in response to the question about if Wesleyan’s changed his life, Thomas let out an enthusiastic “Fuck yeah!” saying he met both his wives (his real wife, Rebecca Alson-Milkman ’98, who is the inspiration for the character Lily, and Bays) here.
7. Talking about how Wesleyan influenced them, Thomas emphasized how it taught him to think in new ways, leading to the conclusion that, “If anyone didn’t like the How I Met Your Mother finale, it’s really Wesleyan’s fault.”
And there you have it, folks.