Neil Patrick Harris.
Sure, episode 100 of the series, now in its fifth season, might contain an exciting guest appearance from OC alum Rachel Bilson (possibly, maybe, perhaps, but probably not The Mother herself). Okay, Marshall (Jason Segal) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan)'s successful long-term relationship with its minor conflicts (episode 94: Marshall learns why it's important to put your dishes immediately in the sink!) is adorable. I guess some of the show's audience must be dying to find out if Robin (Cobie Smulders) ever breaks out of her wee-hours public-access morning news show and into real journalism. And oh, there's that main character guy (Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby) that nobody seems to like all that much--even his kids in the opening scenes seem pretty disinterested in finding out who their mother is.
But there's a very simple reason I've watched and adored every single episode of the Emmy-winning sitcom: NPH's catchphrase-coining, suit-sporting, smooth-talking, scene-stealing turn as the womanizing all-around bad guy and unofficial star of the show, Barney Stinson.
Yes, I know I'm not of the right generation to have seen a single one of the Doogie Howser, M.D. episodes that made him famous. I know that my recently completed Sarah Lawrence education (finishing-school-turned-feminist-haven) should keep me from finding misogyny endearing even in its TV-friendly, satirical forms. And, yes, I'm also aware that NPH is, in real life, gay. But I can't help it. I'm head-over-heels smitten.
I'm not the only one. High-profile magazine stories in People, Out, New York magazine, and plenty of others have extolled NPH's appeal as "a man's man" (Out), or, more bluntly, a gay actor who can pass the great American screen presence test: girls still want him, guys still want to be him.
Just as he transcends genre without blinking an eye--his transition from child stardom into his Broadway career was equally as impressive as his title role as antihero Dr. Horrible in the Joss Whedon-created Emmy-winning web short dreamed up during the writers' strike and his hilarious alter ego in the Harold and Kumar franchise--NPH also seems to slip gracefully in and out of sexual stereotypes with an enthusiasm matched only by its tongue-in-cheek-ness, giving Barney's outright offensive lines a context that makes them playful.
So, regardless of my lukewarm appreciation of the rest of the elements of How I Met Your Mother, I'll continue on through season five as a diehard fan, just for my NPH fix. I mean, have you seen the 100th episode? Spoiler alert: he sings.