I was reading this article about How I Met Your Mother today, and I'm starting to wonder if the show's writers are forgetting one thing: while the title of the show makes it sound like the show's purpose is for Ted to meet his wife, the actual purpose is to entertain us.
The problem with this season of HIMYM is they're focusing on one character trait of one character in a show whose strength comes from the ensemble. While not as narrow in scope as the Barney Stinson problem, a similar situation happened with Monica on Friends by the end of that show. She was just nuts. Neurotic, addicted to cleaning, and not the witty and fun woman we met at the beginning of the show.
Barney is the sort of character that is best left on the side, checking in with his deviance as the other characters go about their multi-faceted lives. While it's true that he's a crowd favorite, he's basically got one interest - getting laid - and that's not much of a story line for him. Other great shows have had great kooky characters that were stronger when they were kept in check by the other more stable characters. Think JJ on Good Times (before they killed James) and Kramer on Seinfeld. They were great as part of a strong ensemble. Also, Jack and Karen on Will & Grace. These people were hilarious foils and friends in their shows, but they wouldn't be fun to watch all the time.
Just like that guy you know who is always saying something funny, no matter what, and even though what he says is actually funny, after a while you get tired of having to keep up with him all the time. Every other sentence he says is a demand for a reaction from you - a giggle, a guffaw, a smirk - and after a while it's just tiresome. It's the same thing with Barney. Yes, you get laid a lot, yes you have a lot of opinions about dating and women (and I completely agree about the Lemon Law), but it's enough.
HIMYM is turning into the Barney Stinson show, and a show like that can't sustain the humor and warmth that we've come to expect from HIMYM. It's like I'm tuning in to watch Friends, but instead I'm stuck watching Joey.
The writers don't want Ted to meet the mother of his children because that would mean the end of the show. It makes sense that they want to do filler shows to prolong their paychecks. But don't turn this into Scrubs, which was loved and lauded at its start and has since become a down-and-out lame and limping old gray nag; a shadow of its former self and a prime example of a show that has well outlived its relevance.
If you can't deliver lively, interesting story lines about five lively, interesting people living in New York, it's time to call it quits and go out on a high note. Even Barney Stinson would agree it's the classy thing to do.