The Harvard Law (Television) Review: How I Met Your Mother


While TV is awash in lawyer shows (most of them terrible), it’s funny that one of the best – and certainly most humorous – lawyers on TV comes from a sitcom. Marshall (Jason Segel) on How I Met Your Mother spent the show’s first two years as a second and third year law student at Columbia. Befitting third year law students everywhere, the only time we actually saw reference to him studying in the second season was when he pretended he was writing a paper while, in reality, he was tracking down an EZ Bake Oven for his fiancé, Lily (Alyson Hannigan).

This year, however, newly minted lawyer Marshall is often taking center stage in the show’s plotlines. In an early episode, he was seduced away from his dream job at the NRDC to Generic Big Law Firm by a suave recruiter who took him out for Kobe lobster (lobster fed on Kobe beef). In the most recent episode, he lost his password to check his New York bar exam results (at least his laptop didn’t crash and erase his essay answers).

The show is done technically in flashback. Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) narrates from the future, telling his teenage children the story of how he met their mother (who, as far as we know, has yet to make an appearance). This allows the show to break with linearity – we’ve already been told, for instance, that the lawyer who recruited Marshall is going to be indicted and that three people will die in a horrific accident at the New Jersey amusement park whose account Marshall will be working on.

Most of the time, knowing the fallout just makes the journey sweeter, if only because watching Marshall pass up the NRDC for a corporate law firm hits just a bit too close to home for a lot of us. Assuming the writer’s strike doesn’t scuttle the rest of the season, it promises to deliver.

Rating: * * *

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