It’s not hard to find a TV show with an uninspiring premise, shaky writing, and a flailing cast. Sometimes, though, you can’t help but like it anyway. Objectively speaking, How I Met Your Mother rarely rises above OK, and Bones is often laughably bad. Their big failing — besides scripts littered with clunky lines — is their tendency to take themselves too seriously, which is to say they take themselves seriously at all. They burden themselves with too much continuity, and their too-serious character arcs aren’t as much affecting as they are tiresome.

Both shows, however, have likable casts with really nice chemistry. How I Met Your Mother is particularly good at letting us see the actors react to each others’ gags, and seeing Josh Radnor crack up at Jason Segel’s line readings works much better than the canned laugh track at encouraging the audience to laugh along. Similarly, once Bones’s writers stopped trying so hard to generate some sexual tension between Emily Deschanel and David Boreanz, they were able to develop a much more natural buddy-cop relationship that’s a lot less painful to watch.

Most importantly, both shows showed improvement over the course of the season. Early on, I gave Mother a season pass purely on faith in Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan, and Bones was strictly so-bad-it’s-good material. After a full season, though, it looks like both show’s casts have found their characters, and there’s hope that the writers might catch up with them. If that happens, they might actually progress from being guilty pleasures to being just plain old pleasurable.