emmys 2012

Showrunner Survey: How I Met Your Mother’s Carter Bays

Actor Jason Segel, actress Alyson Hannigan, co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas of the television show
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

How I Met Your Mother co-creator Carter Bays is already working on scripts for what may or may not be the final season of the CBS comedy hit. What secrets this next batch of episodes holds we know not, but now that Bays has taken Vulture’s legendary Showrunner Survey, we are aware of Bay’s understandable love of The Price Is Right, his less expected passion for Bunheads, and the shocking, heretofore unrevealed connection between HIMYM and a classic ABC comedy from the nineties.

What’s the first TV show you remember being obsessed with?
The Price Is Right.

True or false: When I was growing up, the day the TV Guide “Fall Preview” issue came out was almost as good as the last day of school.
False. I could never love TV as much as I hated school.

Which show would you like to do a crossover event with and why?
Full House. I want it to slowly become clear that our show is the prequel to that show, Prometheus-style.

If you could bring back any killed-off TV character for just one more episode, who would it be?
[Spoiler alert.] Only because it’s so fresh in my mind: Alan Ruck in Bunheads. I thought his character was wonderful. It was so nice to see him playing this sad romantic mensch, kind of a Jack Lemmon character. As the pilot went on, I found myself thinking how much I liked him and Sutton Foster together, and how I could watch this relationship every week. And then, whammo.

Do time slots still matter? Explain.
Yes. You can explain to me a million ways about how the way we watch TV has changed, but if they moved our show to Saturday at 7 p.m. … yes, that would matter a great deal.

Pick one character from your show; which reality show would (s)he be most suited for, and why?
I think Marshall might do pretty well on one of those Man vs. Food programs.

Which character do you wish you had created?
Homer Simpson. There have been a lot of funny dumb guys in TV history, but he’s the funniest … and the dumbest. Oddly enough, the first note you always get when you develop a comedy is to not make the characters too dumb, which is a hard note to take when you’re working on a studio lot where there’s an enormous mural of a giant yellow billion-dollar idiot.

What was the biggest creative misstep you ever saw made by a show you love?
Again, the Alan Ruck thing still kind of stings.

If you could let your kids watch a single episode of your work, which one would it be and why?
I’d show the episode entitled “Ten Sessions” — it’s the one where Ted takes Stella on the three-minute date. It’s probably as good an example as any of the kind of funny but cynicism-free stuff we try to do on How I Met Your Mother.
Which writers’ room in all of TV history would you most like to have gotten to sit in on?
Letterman back in the NBC days.

Finish this sentence: The hardest thing to pull off on a TV show is …
Writing and producing it without constantly eating.

Showrunner Survey: HIMYM’s Carter Bays