Actually Close to Meeting Yo’ Mama

In its pilot episode back in 2005, “How I Met Your Mother” introduced viewers to what might very well be the biggest misnomer in television history — the grumbling teens finding out how their parents met is, in fact, the show’s biggest artifice.

Throughout the show’s six seasons, the disembodied voice of Future Ted (Bob Saget) has actually spent very little time over the past six years dealing with the exact chronology of events which brought the eponymous “Mother” and himself together.

Instead, we have gotten a generous helping of catch-phrases, memory lapses and breaks in the fourth wall — all in service of illustrating his and his four friends’ inevitable journeys toward “adulthood.” Or, at least, adulthood as realized in the year 2030, where, as seen in the episode “How I Met Everyone Else,” the gang still indulges in the occasional “sandwich.”

Now entering its seventh and potentially second-to-last season, “HIMYM” might, as hinted by show creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, be in its “endgame.”

In season six, Ted (Josh Radnor) was named best man for his friend Punchy (Chris Romanski)’s wedding, broke up with Zoey (Jennifer Morrison), his first serious girlfriend since season three and came one step closer to realizing his lifelong dream of contributing a building to the New York City skyline with the new Goliath National Bank headquarters. Robin, after reeling from her breakup with Don (Benjamin Koldyke), found a new job as a researcher at World Wide News. Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) finally met his estranged father (John Lithgow), and a new love interest Nora (Nazanin Boniadi). Finally, Marshall (Jason Segel), after facing the death of his father and quitting his job at GNB, just learned that after months of trying, his wife Lily (Alyson Hannigan) is finally pregnant.

“We’re always mining our own lives for material,” Thomas said in a recent interview with nymag.com, “We had two of our writers deal with the loss of their fathers, and last year we wrote about that. So last year was our year of dealing with death. Carter’s wife just had a baby … so this is our year of rebirth.”

Over the course of the series, the writers have interwoven the larger stories and character arcs with smaller, more episodic sitcom television, though recent seasons have tended to lean toward the latter. Thomas promises, however, that season seven will mark a return to the very sort of pointed character development which helped make earlier seasons so gratifying. After already having had large Ted, Lily, Marshall and Barney arcs, Bays and Thomas say it’s Robin’s turn — starting with her going into therapy over how she feels about Barney and Nora.

“She’s sitting off to the side kind of dying inside, dealing with the insanity of the fact that she has these feelings for Barney bubbling up in her,” Bays says.

While the Robin/Barney/Nora dynamic is one the writers plan on playing with throughout the season, Bays insists that fans should “absolutely not” assume that Barney will end up with either. Robin, for one, already has two other potential love interests lined up for the season, the first being her “crush” (Michael Trucco) from season six’s “Hopeless,” and the second being “Harold and Kumar” star Kal Penn, who will be playing her therapist Kevin.

On top of that, we will also find out exactly why Ted decided to start the series with the story of how he met Aunt Robin in the first place. “The notion that Ted is living with his ex-girlfriend, the catalyst for this whole story … is important,” Thomas says, “So while there’s a lot of great Robin-Barney coming up, Ted’s going to remember why he [fell for Robin]. We’re really bringing it back to the group this year. Ted won’t be dating some other woman for 14 episodes. It’s these people dealing with how they feel about each other.”

The cast of the show, which has already been picked up for an eighth season, isn’t too worried about their characters’ fates or who the mother will be. “Well, the kids aren’t going to be surprised, you know?” Neil Patrick Harris said during the CBS Fall Premiere show, “It’s not like, ‘What?! That’s my mom?!’ They know who she is.”

In the meantime, fans can look forward to seeing plenty of new faces, including Michael Short, who will be playing Marshall’s new boss at the environmental law firm; finding out who Barney’s bride is; and witnessing the return of the Slutty Pumpkin this Halloween.

“How I Met Your Mother” will maintain its slot from last season, staying at 8 p.m. on Mondays on CBS.