I've had a lot of free time on my hands, so I've ended up blasting through several seasons of that series pretty quickly. I'm a quarter of the way through season 5.
It's definitely progressed from my original statement, and I'm impressed with how the characters have bounced around each other. I mean that in terms of their relationships, how the writers have handled them and let them build up and cool off. I still think there are hints of a stronger connection between Ted and Robin, but part of that may be that I want to see it.
As before, the main source of humour for me comes from the Barney character. There are a few other funny little gags or jokes now and then, but he's the main comic.
Then again, there are a few things in the episodes that if they were real and I was present to them, I'd be put right off. The whole romantic dynamic between Marshall and Lily...I'd probably feel like gagging if I sat in front of them for half an hour. I wouldn't get how they would sit next to Barney and listen as he talks about women if I were there. Taking it realistically this way makes it kind of sound off-putting, but perhaps that's true for every television sitcom.
The only other thing that annoys me a little is the joke about Robin being Canadian. For some reason, the sitcom has this idea that we have semi-French-sounding accents that make us sound rather idiotic. The only kind of Canadian I've ever heard pronounce the word "out" as "oout" was a Quebecer who used English as a second language. I guess it's stereotyping at its finest. Why not just decide every American speaks hillbilly, and doesn't pronounce words at all? The idea that Canadians are afraid of the dark makes me laugh. I'm sure some of those stereotypes are meant to also throw light on American ignorance and/or make fun of it, but I don't always see it.
It makes me think of stereotypes that even we push forward. "Sorry" is our primary language. No it's not. We're friendly and considerate, yes, but that doesn't mean if you shove into me, I'm going to shrink away in horror and apologize profusely. Everyone seems to like making a positive trait into something ridiculous. We've turned a warm, nice idea - that we are hospitable and generous and kind - into an idiotic, pathetic stereotype where we're insanely politically correct doormats who are manner nazis that can be pushed around (we'll say sorry to you regardless).
Anyway, I'm still enjoying the show. I think the couple in it is a little too gushy and ridiculous now and then (Marshall can't fantasize about women unless he carefully and sweetly has Lily pass away first, and then after an 'appropriate amount of time later...') and Barney has his despicable traits, all while Robin looks up to his ignorance and condescension of anything Canadian-related, but I think the relationship dynamics are being handled well and realistically. There are definitely many little funny moments. I look forward to finishing it (at this rate I'll probably be done by early January).