The Wife:

At first I wasn’t sure about this episode, thinking it was going to be another story-telling catch-up episode like last week’s (a novelty that’s cool once, but not cool many times in a row), but by the end, I was totally sold on “The Front Porch” as one of the stronger emotional episodes of the series. I don’t think we’ve ever really seen angry Ted before . . . and I don’t think I care much for angry Ted.

After realizing that no one watches her very early morning morning show, Robin begs her friends to watch that morning’s taping (so, I guess all of these characters can just not go to work whenever they want? or perhaps this was a Friday?). They all head to Dowisetrepla to watch in their pajamas at Marshall and Lily’s apartment. I have to say, btw, that I think this is the first time we’ve seen Lilypad and Marshmallow’s place with furniture in it, or at least with so much furniture, so I was momentarily very confused about where this was taking place. (Husband Note: We’ve seen it before, but only glimpses.) There’s much discussion of everyone’s pajama choices, particularly Marshall’s affinity for the nightgown/nightshirt and Barney’s oppositional choice, the suitjamas (complete with “sleeping cravat”). Over the course of the evening, Marshall converts a reluctant Barney to nightshirt wearing, citing the benefits of one’s junk being able to breathe easily and, my personal favorite:


“No elastic waistband leaving its judgmental pink teeth around my Thanksgiving belly.”


Barney, on the other hand, in his shiny suitjamas:


“I have to lie perfectly still so I don’t wrinkle my suitjamas.”


The two men share some Big Lebowski-esque dream sequences where they fly over New York in their nightshirts, set, even, to the Big Lebowski dream sequence music and by the end of the night, Barney is snuggled up next to Marshall in his night shirt, fondly dreaming of a marriage in which he can make a special arrangement with his wife that will allow him to sleep with other women.

But as enjoyable as the pajama talk was, the main event is fueled by Ted’s announcement that Karen, ever the douchebag, had broken up with him after finding one of Robin’s earrings in his bed. Ted finds Robin’s other earring on Marshall’s dresser and accuses Marshall of sabotaging his relationship, but Lily confesses that it was she who placed the earring in Ted’s bed for Karen to find. As the two have it out, Robin, in the background on the muted morning show broadcast, desperately tries to give a shout out to her friends, but goes unheard. Lily explains that she puts all of Ted’s girlfriends through the “Front Porch Test,” in which she envisions the kind of woman Ted should spend the rest of his life with, sitting on the front porch with her and Marshall, playing pairs bridge together. Future Old Karen, spouting off acidic diatribes about toxic chemicals in the water and how playing cards bores her, clearly failed Lily’s test, so something had to be done to get rid of her. And this is not the first time Lily has done this to Ted, either. She once broke him up with one of his college girlfriends by planting Marshall’s Creed CD in the girl’s dorm room.

Of all the old people photos over at CBS, I thought this one was the funniest. How cute is Old Alyson Hannigan? I hope she still gets work when shes Grandma Aly.

Of all the old people photos over at CBS, I thought this one was the funniest. How cute is Old Alyson Hannigan? I hope she still gets work when she's Grandma Aly.

In an A Few Good Men-style shouting match, Ted demands to know if Lily was responsible for breaking up him and Robin. She did, but inadvertently. From her post outside of the relationship, Lily realized that Ted and Robin wanted different things out of life and she wanted to get them to open up to each other and talk about their issues, lest they all end up on the front porch bitterly playing cards, with Ted accusing Robin of being too selfish to bear him children and Robin venomously accusing her marriage to Ted of destroying her career as a journalist. So Lily began asking them questions, inadvertently feeding them the script to their inevitable breakup.

After a broadcast filled with failed shoutouts, a cooking demo inferno, a cardiac-arresting weatherman and an on-air birth, Robin rushes into the apartment, pleased that her friends saw this particular taping, only to find that they haven’t watched it at all. Ted informs her that Lily broke them up, which Lily tells Robin was for the best, because, without that breakup, Ted and Robin would have stayed together too long and ruined each other’s lives, thus the fivesome wouldn’t have been able to stay friends and, most importantly, Robin and Lily would have never become best friends. The two women hug, leaving an awkward gap in between them to accommodate their very pregnant real-life bellies. Ted, still furious at Lily for interfering in his relationships, tells her to just keep her front porch fantasies to herself.


Lily: What happened to your jacket?
Robin: Soot. Breadcrumbs. Placenta.


Lily being Lily, she feels bad for meddling and tells Karen everything, including a handwritten note revealing that she’s planned a surprise for them upstairs in Ted’s apartment as a peace offering. Even with Lily’s apology out on the table, Karen tells Ted that, of course, this means they can never see Lily again. Adhering to the time-honored rule of bros before hos, Ted breaks up with Karen and invites his roommate Robin to share the gourmet meal Lily had provided for Karen and Ted’s reunion. During their dinner, they talk about their issues in their previous relationship, and agree that Lily was right to force them to confront those truths but that, at a different time in their lives, they might have been great together. As a result, Ted gets down on one knee and asks Robin to be his back-up wife, should they ever reach 40 and still be single. She agrees, provided that he never, ever wears a nightshirt. Ever.

Yes, nightshirts and suitjamas and Robin’s various morning show antics are hilarious, but the fight between Ted and Lily is really the most important part of this episode, and certainly very relatable. While I can’t say I’ve ever tried to break up some of my friends’ relationships, there are certainly times I wish I could have, if only to spare them the inevitable pain of staying with someone for far longer than they should have. I think we all look at our friends in relationships and wonder if this partner is going to be with our friend for the long haul. And while it may seem selfish to hope that the girlfriend or boyfriend you like the most is the one your friend chooses to be with, it’s a thought that comes more out of your sense of your friend’s well-being and the well-being of your friend-group as a whole than anything else, especially in a relationship like Ted and Robin’s. It’s rare to see the gang on HIMYM fight, and because of that rarity, I think this one is a very important and volatile episode. I get the feeling that, while Lily’s actions may have been wrong, had she told Ted what she thought directly, he wouldn’t have listened to her at all, blinded by his quest to find a mate for life and his unflinching desire for every girl he dates to be The One.

The Husband:

And the similarities between Marshall and myself continue. Until halfway through high school, I wore nightgowns to bed every night, but I also had no problem with calling them “nightgowns” instead of “nightshirts.” I had no illusions about what they were. They are indeed the most comfortable thing ever, and I vastly prefer them, in theory, to the tighter variety of pajama pants that do, in fact, leave their judgmental pink teeth around my belly.

It wasn’t until Pajama Day in middle school when I realized, upon wearing a nightgown with shorts on underneath, that nobody else my age wore nightgowns, and that the standard of pajama-ness was a t-shirt and some silk or flannel PJ bottoms. I felt embarrassed, to say the least, but not embarrassed enough to go around the rest of the day freaking people out while I pretended that I wasn’t wearing anything under my Big Dog nightgown.

Approaching college, though, I finally had to wear something that could be communally accepted, as I was going to be living with strangers in Los Angeles instead of my silly nightgown wearing Bay Area family. A part of me wishes I could wear nightgowns again, but I’ve gotten so used to the aforementioned t-shirt-and-pajama-pants combo, which can also easily work with my “underwear radius” to the mailbox or into the car for some drive-thru, that I always immediately get into PJs upon returning home from work. It’s a rare occasion that I’m wearing actual clothes at home. Maybe 1% of the time. When we have company. And that’s if “company” isn’t just my sister, who doesn’t give a fuck.

Maybe I’ll pick a nightgown up in the near future. If my wife will let me, of course. I will make a concession, though: this time, the nightgown won’t be from Big Dog.

And yes, as the Facebook group proclaims, even Jesus hates Creed.

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