The Wife:

A goat brawl? BRoLove? Marshall dressed up as Dracula? Acknowledgement of the master plot? What more could I have asked for in the HIMYM season 4 finale?

While the gang tries to throw Ted a surprise birthday party, he spends most of the night working on his hat building, until a mysterious visitor appears . . . a goat Lily rescued from a farmer who announced to her Kindergarten class that he was going to kill it. The goat grows obsessed with a washcloth from the bathroom, and gets very, very angry at Ted for taking it from him . . . causing him to get into a fight with said animal that he misremembers as being much more violent than it actually was. Nonetheless, it was enough to land him in the hospital, officially squelching the surprise party.

This goat is the best actor in the world.

This goat is the best actor in the world.

But during that surprise party on the roof, Marshall contemplates leaping to the glorious patio on the next building, as he has contemplated for many years but never actually accomplished, in part out of his own hesitation and in part because of Lily’s lack of support. (“For the last time, I am not Linda Knievel! I will never be Linda Knievel!”) As mentioned above, the best of Marshall’s near-jump flashbacks, for me, involved him dressed as Dracula during the Halloween party which, coupled with his artful cape spreading and slow, vampiric lean forward made for sight-gag gold. It also helped that I heard this in my head the minute he appeared on screen in that costume:

If you haven’t seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, know that Jason Segal’s love of puppets makes an appearance in the form of this song, part of a Dracula puppet musical his character (and, actually, Jason) had been writing. It’s amazing.

More importantly, Robin admits she loves Barney, immediately after which he rejects her and suggests they only be friends. When Barney announces this to Lily, she, who can’t keep secrets, tells him that Robin has known all along that he’s been in love with her, especially since she overheard a conversation between him and Ted only a few days before in which Barney tried to cleverly get Ted’s advice on Robin by comparing her to a fancy Canadian suit. Ted gives Barney his blessing to pursue Robin, but Robin isn’t all that interested. She strategizes with Lily and Marshall about how to let Barney down without hurting his feelings. The solution? To “Mosby” him. That is, for Robin to say “I love you” before Barney does in order to scare him off, just like Ted had done to her. It works all too well, leading Barney to immediately pursue blonde Rockette hopefuls who literally just got off the bus from Iowa (and who, for some reason, happen to be at Ted’s surprise party). Barney is a little bit crushed to learn from Lily that Robin Mosbyed him.

Yeah . . . lets just talk about this later and make out now.

Yeah . . . let's just talk about this later and make out now.

In Ted’s hospital room, after he takes off to present his hat building with a giant goat-mark on his forehead, Robin and Barney discuss their feelings for one another, each Mosbying the other until they can Mosby no more and are forced to make out. That pre-kiss exchange of “I have feelings” and “Let’s just be friends” was pretty spectacular, but, really, nothing in this episode was better than every goddamn reaction shot of the goat and Ted’s recollection of his battle with said goat over the pink washcloth. That fucking goat was killing me last night. The wait was worth it.

Even though Ted makes it to his presentation on time, his hat building gets trumped by another one of Sven’s freaky metal dinosaurs, and so he’s back where he started from. Lily advises Ted that he should just take the leap, and stop thinking about his life as he had planned it. It’s so important for him to be an architect, but it was important for all of them to get their dream jobs, only none of them ever quite made it in the way they thought they would. Lily’s not a famous painter (although she does fingerpaint on a daily basis and has moderate success creating paintings for veterinary offices). Marshall’s not a big environmental lawyer (but he is a lawyer!). Robin’s not a television reporter (but she is the host of a morning show at 4 a.m. that no one watches). Barney? Not a violinist. This also inspires Marshall to actually take that leap to the other patio, and he does, brilliantly, which in turn inspires Robin to leap, then Barney, then Lily and, finally, Ted. So with that literal leap, Ted takes the metaphorical leap, calls Tony and accepts that professorship at Columbia. And it’s a good thing he did, too, because if he didn’t, he would have never met the woman that would mother his children, because she was a student in his very first class as Professor Mosby.

For as silly as that leaping sequence may have been, there was something about it that hit just the right emotional note, and I couldn’t have been happier to hear that Ted had accepted the professorship job that I knew felt so right for him to take when Tony first mentioned it. It was also very well done on the part of the writers for Stella’s return to serve two purposes. Not only for Stella to encourage Ted not to give up searching for The One, but also for him to take Tony’s job offer, both of which lead to him meeting the love of his life.

I look forward to next season where we get to start playing the guessing game “Which One of Ted’s Students Is He Going to Bone?” and a further exploration of a BRoLove relationship. And maybe next season, Marshall and Lily will actually have a baby. Because I still think they need one. And she can be played by Baby Satyana. And it would be great.

Other funny:

  • “I mean, you’re very pretty but you’re freakishly tall and don’t believe in ghosts.” –Marshall, on why he assessed Robin as an “eh,” while lovingly putting his arm around miniature, ghost-believing Lily
  • “Hat buildings don’t design themselves.” – Ted (Apparently, I love jokes about oddly-shaped buildings.)
  • Lily’s attempt to get Marshall not to jump by telling him she’s pregnant. He immediately rushes to her side in disbelief, but ruins it all by muttering about how he’d noticed she’d gained weight recently. At which point, Lily says she was kidding, but is so offended that she snarls, “I hope you die.” So Marshall returns to the ledge, “That’s all the permission I need.”
  • Since this was filmed months ago, Alyson Hannigan wasn’t quite so pregnant in this episode. But still, through the whole thing, she held a “31” in front of her belly. Awkward . . .

The Husband:

And even more Hannigan belly-covering was done by a bowl of popcorn, a printer and, of course, the use of a body double to do the patio-jumping stung.

A great season finale, much better than last year but not as good as either the s1 finale (when Ted and Robin finally got together, and Lily left Marshall for San Francisco) or the s2 finale (when Ted and Robin break up before Marshall and Lily’s wedding). Barney has completed his journey to become more than just a punchline machine, and despite what some of the non-‘shippers have to say, Barney and Robin are perfect for each other.

And Ted learned, at least to me, to stop being the douche that everyone says he is – me, I think he’s just passionate and yet kind of lost – and to go into a field that will teach him about responsibility and maturity. His firm didn’t last very long, true, but I never expected it to amount to much anyway. He was born to be a teacher.

As usual, this show contemplates the idea that we can’t always get what we want, but at a certain age we also have to recognize what we have really isn’t altogether that bad. And if it sucks, it’s only for now.



The Wife:

And so Stella was gone just as soon as she’d returned. And I was made happy. In fact, she wasn’t even as important to the flow of the episode as her boyfriend Tony was. You see, she wasn’t alone under that Dutch blue umbrella. Tony was with her. And when Ted saw them, he played it cool, all the while secretly imagining that seeing him again would bring Stella back to his door. Instead, though, it brought Tony, who thought Ted looked like a sad hot mess and wanted to help the man Stella left at the altar by offering him a job. At first, Ted turns down the offer to be an architecture professor at Columbia (although that’s insane, because, as Marshall remarks, Ted would be a great professor – he really likes to talk about architecture). Ted tells his friends he doesn’t want Tony’s help, not unless it came with a check so fat that if it sat next to you on an airplane, you’d think the check should have purchased two seats. Lo, Tony does return with such a check, but that dream, too, is ruined when Ted meets the client and realizes (in my favorite segment of the episode) the very specific laundry room in the basement the client keeps asking about is actually a murder room. (Cue Marshall totally freaking out about Ted designing “a murder house.”)

Why would you even offer to let someone work on a murder house?

Why would you even offer to let someone work on a murder house?

Eventually, Ted tells Tony that he doesn’t want his help and that he isn’t sad about Stella anymore. In fact, Ted says, why would he even want to be with someone who lies to him about her feelings and ends up leaving him at the altar for another man? Unfortunately, this makes Tony realize that maybe Stella isn’t the kind of woman he wants to be with, either, and Stella later turns up at Ted’s door in tears because Tony broke up with her. Stella apologizes to Ted for what she did to him, and begs him to help her get Tony back because, clearly, Tony listens to Ted. She tries to appeal to the romantic in him, which he cruelly reminds her she crushed when she left him. In her explanation of her relationship with Tony, though, I caught a pretty insane continuity error that makes me wonder more about the timeline of Stella’s life than Lily Van Der Woodsen’s on the Gossip Girl spin-off. Stella said she got pregnant when she was 19 and then she focused on being a mom after that. Last time I checked, Lucy was only a maximum of eight years old. (I want to say she’s actually six.) So, am I to believe Stella is 27? Certainly, I can’t because there’s no way in hell she could have gone to medical school and started a dermatology practice in that time. I’d always assumed she was about 32, and had met Tony and had her daughter while she was in med school, and since I know Lucy is not a teenager, but a sweet little girl, someone on staff made some serious continuity errors here.

Regardless, Ted doesn’t even get a chance to make the decision to help Stella or not because at that very moment, he gets a call from Barney who, after spending the episode trying to talk his way out of speeding tickets, incurring 15 in the process, gets arrested in New Jersey by a hot cop. (His inspiration? Marshall’s story about how he once talked his way out of a speeding ticket by baiting a cop with smoked bratwurst.) So Ted and Stella drive there and back to get Barney out of jail and, on the way, Ted realizes that he doesn’t want Stella to be unhappy, and agrees to talk to Tony. (He does, changes Tony’s mind, and Stella, Tony and Lucy all move out to Hollywood where Tony writes shitty hit movies like The Wedding Bride and Stella develops a successful tattoo removal clinic.) He also admits to her that he’s tired of looking for “the one. ” He knows that the right woman for him is out there somewhere, but he’s jealous of what Marshall and Lily have and what Tony and Stella have. Stella, fulfilling her duty to set Ted on his path, reminds him not to give up, as it sometimes takes us a long time to find the right person. She gives him hope, which is a nice closure for their relationship, considering she broke his damn heart earlier this season.

This wasn’t a favorite episode, and it made me really miss Lily, so I’m glad she showed up at the end for a few minutes to admit the peanut butter joke was actually kind of funny. I didn’t really like Barney’s collection of speeding tickets, although it is nice to see him fail at picking up women from time to time, which was a good payoff for a pretty hokey B-story. All in all, I feel this is kind of a “meh” episode. Maybe I was disappointed, though, because WE SHOULD BE SEEING THE FUCKING GOAT SOON. The Goat incident occurred May 8, 2009. It’s no longer May 8. I really need to hear about the events of May 8, 2009. Where is my goat story, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas? I needs it.

Funny bits:

  • YOU CAN’T DESIGN A MURDER HOUSE!
  • Ted’s ringtone is “Let’s Go to the Mall.” And mine should be, too.

The Husband:

I’ll do you one better, dear wife. My colleague at work watched the episode on CBS.com this morning, and as he considers himself a “Ted” and that Robin is his dream girl, he has already created the exact same ringtone (even with the same starting point) and e-mailed the .m4r file to me moments later to put on my brand spankin’ new iPhone. And as I am a “Marshall” and my sister considers herself a “Robin,” I shall set it to her contact.

As for me, I liked Barney’s newest version of “Wait For It”:


“Challenge accep…wait for it…” [points to Ted]

The Wife:

What a magical episode! I was truly, truly transfixed by the inventive, interwoven storytelling though which Ted explains a simple moment that he felt was life-changing. No, not the meeting of the titular mother (because she carries a yellow umbrella, like Ted), but a reunion with Stella, which clearly set him on the path to meeting that fabled mother. (I think Stella has a sister or a girlfriend that she might introduce to Ted as they try to rekindle their friendship.) And while I am not happy to see Stella again, I loved this episode and each of the three stories Ted had to tell to end up at that street corner at the very moment Stella would tap his shoulder from under her blue umbrella.

Story #1: Robin throws up during her morning show because she gets food poisoning from Schlagel’s Bagels, even though she keeps joking to both Ted and Barney that she’s pregnant. (It’s so meta, because Cobie Smulders is pregnant!) Because of this, Ted turns left instead of right, heading to his second favorite bagel shop instead of Schlagel’s to get a cinnamon-raisin bagel to power him through designing his ludicrous cowboy hat building.

Story #2: Barney is about to bed his 200th conquest, and he has made sure that his 200th will be none other than Russian supermodel Petra Petrova. Why is his 200th so important? Because long ago, a seventh grade bully told young master Stinson that he had already slept with 100 girls, so Barney retorted that he would sleep with 200. But when Robin looks over Barney’s list, she notices he listed one girl twice, which would make Petra number 199. So, with only a few hours before his big date with Petra, Barney desperately tries to find a 199th hookup. He tries to speed-flirt his way into the panties of every girl at the bar, but eventually finds himself going for his last resort lay, Pauline, a female bodybuilder who works out at Barney’s gym and has had her eyes on him for quite some time. When Barney returns from that outing, Robin points out that even though Barney had listed one girl twice, he also misnumbered the list, jumping from 138 to 138 . . . which makes Pauline his 200th. But, at the very least, Barney did still land a model for his 200th, as Pauline was soon to appear in an issue of Muscle Sexxy, which, like many of the women in it, has two xs and one y. So, on his way to his second favorite bagel shop that fateful day, Ted took the time to stop at a newsstand and look at Pauline’s photoshoot in Muscle Sexxy, which, if he hadn’t, wouldn’t landed him at that street corner at the right time.

And this circle represents people who are shaking my confidence daily.

And this circle represents people who are shaking my confidence daily.

Story #3: During Barney’s discussion of his sexual conquests list, Marshall decides to illustrate Barney’s success rate through a series of charts and graphs with which he demonstrates that, over Barney’s 16 years of sexual activity, he has hit on approximately 16,640 women, giving him only about a 1% success rate if he beds 200 women, which is the only successful argument to support Barney’s supposition that 200 girls is totally not that many. Ever since he started working at GNB, it seems, Marshall has become obsessed with abusing the graphics department to make a series of pop culture charts and graphs. (My favorites? His chart regarding the Simon & Garfunkel tune “Cecelia” and the pie chart of bars he likes and the bar graph of pies he likes.) His love of visual aids becomes so irritating to everyone else that they have to stage a chart-and-graph Intervention (which was an excellent callback), going so far as to even throw out charts and graphs Marshall needs for work.

When he discovers some charts missing during a meeting, he calls Ted to get them back and finds that Homeless Milt is selling them. Now, I was pretty sure that Homeless Milt was also the homeless man who tried to sell Lily’s “real artist” paintings last season, but I’m not sure it was the same homeless guy, as that guy wasn’t Dan Castellaneta. But, regardless, this is not the first time a homeless dude has tried to sell Marshall and Lily’s stuff. Milt refuses to give Ted the charts unless he gets $1 million dollars, so Ted agrees to give Milt $1 a day for a million days. Thus, on his way to his second favorite bagel shop that day, he had to stop and give Homeless Milt his daily dollar, the last of three acts that landed him at that crosswalk at the same time Stella was there.

In a brief coda, Barney faces off with his childhood bully and realizes that the foundation of his adult life was based on a lie (because said bully had not slept with anyone in 7th grade, let alone 100 high school girls). Driven to meaninglessness, Barney wonders, “Now what?” and his eyes fall upon Robin, ending us on a great BRoLove moment.

Like I said, a truly magical episode. I look forward to the goat next week, because that’s gotta happen. I recall it was to take place on May 8, 2009, which is this Friday.

Other funny things:

  • “What has my career come to? A 2-story Stetson with outdoor dining on the rim!” – Ted
  • The Weather Clown, which will give me nightmares for sometime.
  • Vomiting into beaded handbags, because that’s a place I’ve not actually vomited into, and I vomit into crème brûlée bowls.
  • Barney scooting out the door like a cartoon character who can’t get traction when Robin jokes that she’s pregnant.
  • Marshall stalling at his meeting by resorting to his terrible, terrible fish stand-up routine.

The Husband:

Marshall is right. Why the hell do they call it a sea bass? Is there a land bass of which we are previously unaware?

And just to make sure that I can figuratively body check all those people online who completely misunderstood the “MOTHER” bit of the episode (this would include Vinnie on this morning’s Radio Alice Morning Show), nowhere in the narration did Bob Saget say that this was the mother, only that seeing Stella again led to something else. I watched the episode again today at work just to make sure.

He. Did. Not. Say. Stella. Was. The. Mother. Husband win.

(Although good catch, eagle-eyed viewers with big-ass HD televisions who spotted the back of Stella’s head way at the beginning of the episode. Maybe one day we’ll all have cyborg eyes like you.)

As for Barney’s hit against Steve Guttenberg for being in too many Police Academy movies, saying three was enough, here’s some food for thought – the Goot was only in four of them. By the end of the seven-film series (and the television cartoon show), only three actors from the original movie made it through the entire Police Academy run.

Nice touch with Schlagel’s Bagels using its “D” rating from the health board and disguising it as the first letter in their window decal that says “DELICIOUS.” I hope above all hopes that they got the idea from Failblog.org, which had this picture.

FAIL! (Thanks, FailBlog!)

FAIL! (Thanks, FailBlog!)

And for the record, I don’t hate Stella like my wife does, but I also do not want her to be the mother. Considering their past, I just think it would involve way too much compromise on Ted’s part. Compromise is important, yes, but he would simply end up being a completely different person, and that’s not Ted’s journey.

And by the way, here was the ranking on Marshall’s chart of presidents’ names in descending order of how dirty their name sounds.

  • Johnson
  • Bush
  • Harding
  • Polk
  • Fillmore
  • Pierce
  • LBJ
  • Hoover
  • Bush
  • Clinton

(I especially like the touch with the seven spots between the two Bushes, as if it mattered.)

Best line of the night, in my opinion, goes to Barney in response to Marshall’s chart of projected interest in his usage of graphs and charts. Glory be to tool humor.


You’re a big sustainable growth.

The Wife:

One thing I’ve always appreciated about How I Met Your Mother is that it’s filled with callbacks for regular viewers, and I have to say that I was pleasantly amused by the callbacks in “The Three Days Rule,” as well as a callback on last night’s Big Bang Theory to what is undoubtedly my favorite thing ever to appear on the show. But as for tonight’s episode of HIMYM itself, it was pretty much a non-starting plot that led to an amusing “sexting” prank war between Ted, known to call women too soon, and Marshall and Barney, who pretend to be Ted’s most recent date in order to prevent him from calling her too soon. I’m usually not bothered by stuff that doesn’t advance the master plot about meeting the mother, and I certainly wasn’t bothered by this. However, with HIMYM, I prefer episodes that add to the overall plot of the series – be that Marshall and Lily’s adult responsibilities, Ted’s romantic quest or anything involving BRoLove. And this episode wasn’t any of those things. It was, however, totally funny. Why so funny? Let me count the ways:

1. Barney’s brief history of The Three Days Rule, which traces its origins to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who knew how to play to crowds and waited three days to resurrect himself because if he had just waited one day, like, nobody would have even known that he’d died. NPH’s delivery of this speech was amazing. In fact, when we have children, I think I shall make them listen to it every Easter as they stuff their little faces with pagan chocolate bunnies.

2. Ted’s naked lady laugh and its boundlessness. He will laugh at accidentally seeing Lily in the bathroom. He will laugh at National Geographic. And, my favorite, a faux-Picasso painting, with the addition of, “That’s a boobie.”

3. When Robin realizes what Marshall and Barney are up to: “You sons of bitches. You’re Holly.”

4. The Return of Ted’s Red Cowboy Boots! I’m so glad that Marshall and Barney came up with a way to get Ted to put those on. So, so glad.

5. Ted’s revenge texting scheme: telling Marshall and Barney that he has gay dreams about his best friend, causing the two of them to wonder which of them Ted would rather have sex with.

Why do we keep wanting to have sex with Ted?

Why do we keep wanting to have sex with Ted?

6. Marshall’s speech about his cuddliness. I wish I had written this whole thing down, but I was too excited by its inclusion that I kept tapping my husband exclaiming, “YOU HAVE TO PUT THAT ON A TEE SHIRT!!!” As such, all I was able to write down was the excellent end line to that speech: “I’m cuddly, bitch! Deal with it!” And so the similarities between my husband and Marshall continue. He is a cuddly motherfucker, and you just have to fucking deal with it.

7. “The machines are forcing you. They wanna watch. That’s just how they get down.” – Barney, explaining the scenario Marshall concocts to get Ted’s answer about which one of them he’d rather have sex with when the inevitable robot uprising occurs.

8. Stan. This dude is the mack daddy of sending sexy texty texts, sending ladies snippets of Pablo Neruda, which we know Ted loves from “The Naked Man,” where his date, Vicky, proclaims she hates Neruda because it’s all in Mexican and she prefers the poetry of Jewel, who has crooked teeth and lived in her car, so, you know, she’s got stuff to write about. This was an even better callback for me that I bet a lot of people missed because they were too busy focusing on how awesome Stan is. Stan is so the mack daddy of sexting that Marshall and Barney both fall in love with him a little bit, but he ultimately ditches them to go on a date with Robin. That dude is gonna be legendary. Just you wait.

On another note, Cobie Smulders is now so pregnant that flowy tops just aren’t working anymore. I bet that when Alyson Hannigan returns, Robin will be confined to the booth or her morning news program that nobody watches while Lily gets to do all the walking around, sans flowy tops and giant handbags. Also, I’m not the only one waiting for a baby Satyana Denisof cameo, right?

The Husband:

You know that guy, Stan? Played by the omnipresent Kevin Michael Richardson. Now, on look alone, you may remember him as Rockefeller Butts (best name ever) on ABC’s short-lived non-laugh track sitcom The Knights of Prosperity, but did you know that he is one of the most high-profile and prolific voice artists out there?

Go ahead. Click on his IMDB page. I dare you. Your mind will explode.

You may notice that, amidst all those voices, he not only did Goro in the Mortal Kombat movie, but he was also Deus Ex Machina in The Matrix Revolutions, and if you remember that scene, you know that he is the baddest muthaeffa of them all.

Besides, I think if there were a battle between animated show voices, Mr. Richardson would whoop some ass.

The Wife:

Thanks to CliqueClack’s Keith McDuffee, I now know the difference between peanut butter and jam, the joke so offensive to Lily that it sent her off for four weeks to have a baby and start wearing normal Lily clothes again.

If you click that link and read my blog because you’re my friend, however, that joke is really lame and totally not even funny or offensive at all, right? It was definitely better when I didn’t know the difference between peanut butter and jam because the humor wasn’t in the joke, but in Lily’s absurd baby-having overreaction. It was a much better way to give Alyson Hannigan some maternity leave to deliver baby Satyana (on her own birthday, no less) than Robin’s endless parade of very flowy tops in this episode. As always, I love when the showrunners randomly stick a large prop in the middle of the scene to hide a baby bump, and the best bit of that in this episode was Robin emerging from her bedroom only to be blocked in the midsection by a living room lamp that I don’t think was ever there before. Not as good as the globe on Lily’s desk, but still funny.

With one player on the bench, there were only two plots this week: Ted and Robin with Mosbius Designs and Barney and Marshall at GNB. Both, however, are about making a name for themselves. Ted struggles to make headway with his new business that he has inconveniently set up in his home and so hires an assistant, who, after refusing to let Robin into the “office bathroom,” ends up having an extended sexual tryst with Robin, which drives Ted crazy, forcing him to fire assistant PJ, only to find that its even more annoying for PJ to be in the apartment as Robin’s boytoy. Ted hired PJ back and the cycle begins anew. Meanwhile, Marshall feels like he doesn’t have a work identity, leading to a plot full of funny cutaways and sight gags, although not much content. Because Food Guy is Food Guy and Toy Guy is Toy Guy, Marshall tries to become Sports Guy, running the office fantasy sports leagues. (He’d have been fantasy guy, but that job was already taken.) Unfortunately, he finds carrying around that much money is too hard and makes him paranoid.

You cant peanut butter your dick up someones ass.

You can't peanut butter your dick up someone's ass.

There is a great tie between these two plots, however, in Barney’s admission of his love for Robin to Marshall. I’ll list all the funny stuff later, but the best part of this episode for me was Barney’s face when Ted announced that Robin was sleeping with PJ. He tried to hard to cover by being shocked that Ted hadn’t hired a hot female assistant for himself to sleep with, but the shock was because Robin had found someone, and that it wasn’t him. Of course, Lily, not being able to keep secrets, had already told Marshall of Barney’s love for Robin, so the admission wasn’t a surprise to him. Still, he and Barney come up with a solution to everyone’s problem by hiring PJ as a paralegal at GNB, successfully getting him away from both Ted and Robin and making him run the fantasy sports leagues, allowing Marshall to get all the credit, but not have any of the stress of handling the money.

I hope Alyson Hannigan returns soon, because something really is missing without Lily.

Funny stuff:

  • “A penny saved is a Penny Marshall! Yes!” – Ted, playing Wheel of Fortune over Robin’s shoulder, which was funny to me because Wheel really is that easy
  • Everything about Toy Guy.
  • But especially Toy Guy eating a hot dog from Food Guy with his Wolverine claws.
  • “Hey, Ted . . . this table just told me you’re a douche.” – Robin
  • Why no, Ted, Robin is not the Empire State Building . . .
  • Robin: How does Ted’s ass taste?
    PJ: I don’t know, but I bet it tastes like genius.
  • Fantasy Guy.
  • “Marshall! Storm off with me!” – Barney
  • Barney’s reaction to Marshall saying that he and Lily always sit on the same side of the booth to force Robin and Barney to sit together: “Awww, you guys, that’s so sweet!”
  • “She’s pure evil, Marshall. You got a good one there. Hang on to her.” – Barney, on Lily the Puppetmistress
  • “Pure evil, Erickson. Pure evil.” – Barney, on Marshall’s final solution for PJ
  • Robin very briefly dating Fantasy Guy.
  • The ninja.

The Husband:

I don’t know. I think the joke is pretty funny, but it’s definitely a dude joke, and it’s definitely all in how one delivers it. I think it would work best if you just kind of mumbled the punchline matter-of-factly and moved on with the conversation, leaving others with the sensation that something might have just happened in their brain, but they don’t exactly know what it was. Like how I expect one feels when they have a stroke. Because “peanut butter” is not a verb.

But I think the fact that my wife doesn’t find the joke even the slightest bit offensive makes me extra-glad I married her. (Wife’s Note: Awww, thanks, baby!)

The Wife:

So, let me start off by saying that the only Lethal Weapon movie I’ve ever seen is Lethal Weapon 4. My parents are Trekkies (no, they are not Trekkers – they’re not that serious about their sci-fi), so I wasn’t really raised on action movies. As such, I admit that I am an embarrassment to faux entertainment journalism and have no business commenting on this episode.

But I will say this: even without knowing the Lethal Weapon franchise inside and out, this was a pretty enjoyable episode. Barney’s idiotic attempt to complete everything on Ted’s Murtaugh list (“I’m too old for this . . . stuff”) was amazing, and I’m especially fond of the running gag about how infected his self-pierced ear was becoming over the course of the episode, as well as the sight of NPH in blue pants, a fishnet top and a pink wig during his “go to a rave” exercise. Even though I’m only in my mid-20s, I definitely recognize some things on the Murtaugh list that I have deemed myself too old for. Halfway through college I decided I was too old to hang pictures on my walls without frames and subsequently got fucking every poster I owned framed. I’ve noticed that many other bloggers are creating their own Murtaugh lists, so I offer a couple of brief things that I, as a woman of 24, am too old for:

  1. I am too old to shop at Hot Topic.

  2. I am too old to shop at Forever 21. (I mean, hello. It’s not called Forever 24.)

Those are the only two I can think of at the moment, actually, but I’m sure my husband has a few for his list.

Why does this remind me of the candy photoshoot from Make Me a Supermodel?

Why does this remind me of the candy photoshoot from Make Me a Supermodel?

In addition to the list of things Ted is too old for, Barney and Robin challenge him to complete a list of old person things that Ted is too young for, hoping to prove to him that its just as absurd to try to reach old age too soon as it is to desperately cling to youth. Where Barney goes to raves until four in the morning and helps someone move into a sixth floor walk-up in exchange for pizza and beer, Ted eats dinner at 4 p.m. and goes to bed at 8 p.m. In the end, though, they both realize that they should just enjoy being their own age, and subsequently head over to Barney’s laser tag arena and TP the place – retribution for Barney’s expulsion from the almighty force that is the laser tag arena.

Marshall and Lily had a sub-plot in this episode related to the age-appropriateness theme of the episode in which Lily encourages Marshall to coach her kindergarten basketball team, something she clearly sees as Dad practice. She is shocked, however, to learn that Marshall treats the kindergarten basketball team as though they’re a college team participating in March Madness, giving them more tough love than they’ve ever known in their short lives. When Lily tells him that there’s no winning and losing and that everyone gets a participation trophy, Marshall flips out, revealing that he coaches basketball the way his dad coached him, which drove him to improve himself and go after the things he wanted in life. Lily turns the tough love on Marshall and demands that he stop coaching the kids to win and that there is no way in hell he’ll treat their own children that way. Then, after a basketball game where the opposing team grows several feet with each telling of the story and ends with a Teen Wolf on the court and a final score of 118-0 (with the zero being Lily’s class), Marshall gets his participation trophy and realizes that Lily’s method of teaching isn’t totally stupid.

The basketball sequence here was pretty hilarious, and I have to admit that there’s something adorable about Marshall trying to treat 5-year-olds like 18-year-olds. Other than the Teen Wolf, my favorite part of this sequence was probably Jason Segel being unable to deliver the line “That’s not running, that’s falling!” without cracking. If I learn anything from watching Wife Swap, though, it’s that Marshall and Lily are both right because it is important for a person’s efforts to be appreciated, even if they don’t win, and its also important for them to learn that they can work hard to achieve things. In fitting with the theme, though, there is a sense of age-appropriateness in regards to those ideologies. Really little kids don’t need to concentrate on winning and losing, but older kids do need that sense of purpose and achievement.

Other funny:

  • Barney with a hunchback from moving that sixth-floor walk-up, trying to do a shot with strangers, but ultimately just licking the glass.
  • Robin’s suggestion that Lethal Weapon is a rip-off of the Canadian franchise McElroy and Mafleur.
  • Robin’s rave outfit: leftover from her Robin Sparkles days? Discuss.

The Husband:

I don’t have a Murtaugh list so much as a general connection to Ted and Barney’s predicament that I’m really starting to feel the things I cannot in good conscience or in good body do again. I quit drinking hard liquor over 11 months ago (and goddamn do I feel good about that decision) and with the help of my wife am trying to eat more organic food and cut down on the unnecessary prospect of processed food. That takes care of a lot of my inner gears and sprockets. But more broadly, it’s generally more things I was able to do when I was much younger that just seem kind of pointless. This runs the gamut from climbing trees and playing a damn good game of hide-and-seek to frequenting theme parks as much as I used to or just randomly buying candy for no good reason. All of these are great things, but I think finally living with someone other than my family or a roommate plus having an actual full-time job has rearranged my priorities in life without me even noticing, and I seem to simply be accepting them.

I don’t know what I’m talking about right now. I’m on antibiotics. They’re making my brain googly. Deal with it.

The Wife:

Let me start by saying that the running joke about Robin’s mystery Canadian sex act with a mystery celebrity who collects a mystery collectible was hilarious if only for the name of the sex acts. Even more hilarious? That every sex act at canadiansexacts.org pops up a picture of Alan Thicke in front of the Canadian flag telling you that the site is temporarily down, but that you’re not perfect, either. One that I clicked on told me to go “open a brown pop,” and try again in a few minutes. I clicked the “open a brown pop” link, which took me to another greeting from Alan Thicke informing me that “a brown pop is not a sex act, you perv.”

And should I try to right click and get a screen cap of one of the photos of Alan Thicke, the site does this to me:

Those crazy Canucks . . .

Those crazy Canucks . . .

Damn that Alan Thicke!

Canadian-made computers apparently run on maple syrup.

Canadian-made computers apparently run on maple syrup.

Now I’ll never actually know what an Old King Clancy is, other than Canada’s most popular wrestler, The Frozen Snoeshow, who collects Harvey’s trays, absolutely doesn’t want to do it with Robin, who apparently carries a bottle of maple syrup in her purse (next to her handgun), just in case she finds anyone willing to perform the act. Robin, it seems, is a little bit freaky, despite telling her friends that it was she who walked out on ‘Shoe when he suggested this vile act involving maple syrup. I always kind of knew that Robin was one who liked to get kinky in bed. Those Canucks are crazy, yo!

And so is Robins hair in this scene. You can take the girl out of the mall, but you cant take the mall out of Robin Sparkles.

And so is Robin's hair in this scene. You can take the girl out of the mall, but you can't take the mall out of Robin Sparkles.

But this episode wasn’t really about pictures of Alan Thicke and the mysteries found at canadiansexacts.org or even Robin’s wild side. No, it was about when its okay to lie to your friends to protect them, as Marshall and Barney choose to do when they find out that GNB is axing the new headquarters project, which means their friend Ted will be out of a job. Bilson, returning from his stint selling drugs on SLOTAT, makes Ted’s two best friends inform him of the firing, but neither man has the heart to tell Ted his project has been cut. Marshall figures that because Ted’s firm will be paid for the job for another two months anyway, that they should just let him continue to work on the project for a new special task force comprised of people who actually like his ideas. That is, a group of crazy people and lower-rung workers from the building who were all paid $50 once a week to show up for the meeting and pretend they were enraptured by everything Ted said.

There are a couple of great sequences here, one in reference to the Ocean’s movies in which Marshall demonstrates how he rounded up each member of the new task force, including a janitor, Louisa the Lunch Lady who doesn’t speak any English and a crazy man from the street. I loved Marshall’s ignorance of Louisa’s inability to speak English, referring to her involvement in the scheme as “our little ablondigas,” or, “our little meatball.” But even better than this sequence was Ted and Louisa’s brief Telemundo-style romance post-meeting, in which Louisa confesses that she cannot love Ted because she is already engaged to Mr. Barney, and Ted, fearful of making love to a woman “on the special task force,” storms out, declaring that their love is wrong. I also really liked the preface to the complex lie in which Barney instructs Marshall about how to create complicated lies by telling a story about a pony he doesn’t have that changed colors when he drank water from a nuclear reactor. Marshall is so moved by the pony’s plight that he forgot the original lie was that Barney had a pony at all. I love Marshall.

When Ted finally finds out that his project has been canceled — and from a girl he tried to hit on in an elevator with a fake phone call, no less — he is furious with his friends for lying to them, fearing he’s going to get fired for working on a canceled project. Barney argues that they were only trying to spare his feelings, especially since he was going to get paid for two more months of work anyway, but Ted thinks this was too serious a thing to lie about, unlike when he and Barney told Marshall that his stand-up routine about the names of various fish was actually funny. (It was funny, because it totally wasn’t.) Still, the fish list story proves Marshall’s point about how everyone lies to spare their friends’ feelings sometimes. Barney and Marshall try to make it up to Ted by getting him a job redesigning the ETR, the Employee Transition Room, at GNB. The ETR is where people go to get fired, and it gets pretty real in there. Mostly, people launch themselves over the mediation table to try and kill their personal terminators. Sometimes, Barney sleeps with them and then fires them. And, sometimes, the fired employee takes a four-pronged approach that really brings the terminator to their knees. Or, in other words, they hit the person who fired them with a chair.

Ted pitches a more womb-like version of the ETR to Bilson, who says he loves it and then promptly takes Ted to the ETR to discuss how those changes can be made to the existing ETR . . . only when they get there, Bilson fires Ted. As a result, Ted gets fired from his firm, but realizes that his friends were only trying to help him and that, free from Bilson’s constraints, Ted was presenting his fake task force with some of the most inspired work of his career. He decides to start his own firm, following the central metaphor of his womb-like ETR and being “reborn” as an architect. Naturally, Ted also takes a chair to Bilson’s head. Gotta love that four-pronged approach.

This was a good, solid episode with yet another one of Carter and Thomas’ website-enhanced storylines. I, too, am disappointed that I’ll never actually know what an Old King Clancy is, but perhaps I’m better off not knowing. It could be as dirty as a Newfoundland Lobster Trap.

“Don’t know. Don’t wanna know. Those Newfies are out of control.” — Robin

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.

The Wife:

I always appreciate the way in which HIMYM creates its narratives, and this episode was unabashedly about storytelling. It’s just an episode where the gang chills at the bar after last call (so Robin can have her morning drink before heading off to tape Come On, Get Up, New York!) where they catch Robin up on everything she’s missed in their lives due to her new sleep schedule. She’s at first disappointed that no one has news, but then two narratives emerge: Barney encourages Marshall to tell the funniest story in the world – the tale of the day Marshall forgot his pants – while Ted fesses up to the gang that he’s reunited with his douchebag college girlfriend, Karen.

Lily and Marshall hate Karen because she’s a pretentious douchebag and, worse, she turned Ted into “one of her douche-zombies” whenever he was around her, Lily says. Just how big of a douchebag is Karen? This should answer that question:

“I love that you guys live in a dorm. It’s so American – like, we should all eat bologna sandwiches and be racist.”


She also thinks that salt is really bourgeois and would constantly cheat on Ted – in his bed – prompting the titular “Sorry, bro” from whomever Karen had seduced. Ted would then break up with her, and immediately get right back together. The gang is very disappointed to learn that Ted has called Karen and had lunch with her, where they relive their doucheyness by ordering Italian food by leaving off the final vowels (which makes me want to punch Ted square in the balls) and casually asking the waiter to correct an embarrassing mis-listing on their wine list.

But shes like cute-pretentious, right guys?

But she's like cute-pretentious, right guys?

Barney tells everyone that there are only four reasons an ex would want to have a meal with you. First, they might want to get back together, like Lily and her high school boyfriend, Scooter. Second, they may want to kill you, which is what Barney thought when Wendy the Waitress only wanted to give him a new tie. Third, they may just want to give you back your gun, because Robin has a habit of leaving her gun at people’s homes. Or, if your Marshall, they want to rub their newfound success in your face, like Marshall’s first grade ex who left him for a boy who read at a fifth grade level.

Ted and Karen end up hooking up, only to find out that Karen hasn’t changed at all and that she’s still a philanderer, only this time, she’s cheating with Ted instead of on him.


“The meathead Karen was cheating with was me, Ted! Me, Ted!”

(Say it out loud if you don’t catch the pun . . .)

Ted at first feels vindicated that he gets to huff, “Sorry, bro,” at someone, but then realizes that if he stays with Karen this time instead of telling her how he really feels, neither of them will be better people for it. So he calls her on her shit and breaks up with her.

The Karen story was told entirely through HIMYM‘s signature flashbacks, but even Ted’s storytelling utilized the show’s skillful manipulations of time and misdirection. He constantly mislead his listeners by suggesting that he was going to do in the future the things he had actually already done, and then, of course, reveals after his announcement that he broke up with Karen for good that they’re actually still dating and that she’s coming to join them at the bar right now. It just makes sense that the way Ted tells stories in the present of the show is reflective of the way the show tells stories as a whole.

As for Marshall and the day he forgot his pants, my favorite storytelling riff in this one was Barney’s constant interruption of Marshall’s delivery of the crucial realization that the pants were indeed forgotten. As Marshall starts, and Barney interrupts, saying he wants to say it, the flashback of Marshall taking his clothes out of his gym bag restarts. The story cannot continue unless someone is telling it correctly, and each time they restart, it restarts. As for the story itself, Marshall forgot his pants, so Lily brought him a new pair and gave them to Barney, who cut them up into pirate-y bermuda shorts, which Marshall has been wearing all day and is still wearing because they show off his sexy calves. It’s not as funny as Barney thinks it is, although I bet it’s funnier than Robin’s “funniest thing in the world,” a monkey wearing two tuxedoes, but it’s brilliantly told. I love that the show chose to acknowledge its storytelling techniques this week as the characters just sat around and told stories. Still, Barney did get a great line in about Marshall’s short pants at the very important meeting for which he needed said pants:

“Hey, Erickson, please sir, may I have some more . . . pants?”


And where was Robin during all of this? Hopped up on sleeping pills, talking in her sleep, and sleep-eating ribs on Ted’s kitchen floor while he and Karen made out like douche-zombies on Ted’s couch.

Some other funny things I just couldn’t work into a paragraph:

  • Marshall does not for one second regret that he grew a soul patch in college, wore a rasta hat and demanded to be called MJ Smooth for a week.
  • Most hilarious attempt to cover up Alyson Hannigan’s pregnancy: stick a globe right the fuck in front of her!
  • Second most hilarious attempt to cover up Alyson Hannigan’s pregnancy: drape her in an American flag for the Wrestlemania segment.
  • Lily hates Karen because she one walked in on Lily painting Marshall nude (why? Marshall ate her bowl of fruit), and Karen’s gaze lingered on that fine man specimen that is Marshall Erickson. She’s a dirty lingerer.
  • Barney: A hug is like a public dry hump.
    Marshall: I think you’re hugging wrong.

The Wife:

You know what I love? Metatheatre. You know what else I love? This episode of How I Met Your Mother.

After the break, this was a great episode to come back on, and I love especially that it plays with the idea of the actor and, particularly, the actors on HIMYM. The premise is this: the gang starts to notice some unusual behavior on Barney’s part. He’s calling someone and telling him he loves them, disappearing from the bar and ignoring scads of floozies. When he leaves suddenly, they hop in a cab and follow him out of the city. After he steps inside a nice suburban home, they follow him in demanding to know who this secret girlfriend of his is. He introduces the gang to his mother, impressing Lily with the revelation that he is, at heart, a mama’s boy . . . until a blonde woman walks into the room whom Barney introduces as his wife, followed by an obnoxious kid introduced as his son, Tyler.

Worst family portrait ever.

Worst family portrait ever.

Everyone, including the viewing audience, is shocked to hear about Barney’s secret life, until his mom leaves the room and Barney reveals that Tyler and his wife, Betty, are both actors, hired to appease his mother’s fondest wish for him. When she was ill, she hoped that Barney would get married before she died, so Barney hired Margaret, a Broadway actress just this shy of a Tony, to play his fiancée, Betty. But Margaret has a tendency to go off book and added a surprise pregnancy to the mix when Barney’s mom expressed a desire to live to see grandchildren. And then she got better and Barney had to begin casting child actors to play the part of Tyler in his fantasy life.


Mom at audition: You said if I slept with you my son would get the part.
Barney: Well, apparently, I’m a better actor than your kid.


Ted recognizes Betty from a Brecht play he saw some years ago, admitting himself as Brechtophile, and the two of them develop a rapport over Brechtian theatre and a passion for acting. Ted tells Betty that he always wanted to act, even staging plays for the children in his family to perform at holidays that he artfully overdirected. Betty gives him a few tips on acting. Meanwhile, Marshall and Lily, after having sex in Barney’s childhood racecar bed, try to convince Barney to tell his mother the truth, debating amongst themselves when the truth should be told and when it should be held back to spare someone’s feelings. They agree that the truth should be told always, so Lily admits that she hates Marshall’s mother, which Marshall finds completely shocking because, well, he was the runt of the family and that woman still loved him. (“I’m only 6’4″!”)

Barney wishes he could tell his mom everything, especially because he totally hates the kid he cast as Tyler, ragging on the boy’s lack of professionalism, inability to stay in character and constant desire to develop a catchphrase (“Tyler no likey!”). He complains that child stars were just so much better in the 80s, an awesome wink at Neil Patrick Harris’ star-making turn as Doogie Howser, M.D. that merited every bit of canned laughter they tacked on to it. If I heard that line in a stage play delivered by a former child star like Harris, the laughter would be louder than the track provided. And that was a loud track – an intentional move, I believe, to further point out the artifice of theatre, television and filmmaking that highlights the metatext about acting in this episode. Even having everyone converge on the three-room set of Mrs. Stinson’s house made this episode seem like a sitcom from another era, or even a stage play by someone like Neil Simon. Every part of this episode is about artifice and theatricality, and I’m glad that the creators, writers and Pamela Fryman took that conceit full-tilt. Brecht would totally approve.

Robin feels bad for Tyler, learning how much he hates playing Barney’s son and she and the boy strike up a sort of kinship for being put-upon by their employers. Robin knows she’s a good journalist, but she’s stuck doing some shitty morning show gig, just because it was available at the time. Likewise, that’s how Tyler got this job. They know they’re better than that, but Robin assures the boy that the best thing he can do to get through it is just to be as awesome as possible at a terrible job. This eventually leads to an awkward moment where Tyler misreads her motherly adoration for the boy as romantic intentions and tries to kiss her, apologizing, “Sorry! I thought I was picking up on something there!”

Barney goes so far as to script some banter for the dinner scene with his mom, filled with things she’d want to hear, like stories from Betty about Barney almost forgetting their anniversary but actually surprising her with a romantic candlelit dinner and a half-remembered nightmare from Tyler about how he doesn’t want to lose his mommy and daddy – a line that Barney had to deliver because Tyler forgot and ad-libbed something about dinosaur bones coming alive, a thought which terrifies Marshall. Barney, by the way, based his “in a relationship character” on Ted. During Barney’s recitation of Tyler’s nightmare, Betty and Ted slip out to the kitchen, where they’re caught making out by the whole group as they head in to the sundae bar Loretta prepared for them. Caught in the moment, Ted decides to resort to some of Betty’s acting tips, improvising a story about Barney stealing Betty (who is blind, in Ted’s estimation) from him when they met on a train to Algiers. Tyler, finally getting something right, runs out of the room crying about how he doesn’t want his mommy and daddy to get divorced.

Realizing that he has to do some serious rewrites on his false life, Barney takes his mom aside and tells her that Tyler is dying and Betty plans to commit suicide the moment her son dies, but then he recants and admits that the family he’s been parading in front of her for years are only hired actors. Rather than being angry or confused, Loretta is relived to hear this because she fucking loathes Betty and Tyler (especially his stupid catch phrase). She doesn’t even like the people Barney hired to play his friends!

Barney comes clean and tells his mom that his life is so completely the opposite of the life he’s been pretending to have to make her happy. He tells her that she wouldn’t even want to know some of the terrible things he’s done, and she counters with:

“Barney, when you were three, I left you to go on the road with Grand Funk Railroad where I was passed around like a bong.”


Like she told Lily and Marshall, Loretta is basically a big, fat whore. Like mother, like son.

Seeing Barney make up with his mother, Lily decides to try to make up with Marshall’s mom, but the cutaway reveals that the person she’s calling is actually Betty, who, with Ted, is telling her what to say to make it sound like she’s trying to make amends and appease Marshall. (Yet another similarity between my husband and I and Marshall and Lily: my husband’s mother is also named Judy. But unlike Lily’s feelings for Marshall’s mom, I totally love my mother-in-law, even when she kicks my ass at Scrabble.)

In addition to the vast metatheatre of this episode, I like that it highlights just how much acting we do everyday, especially through Lily’s feeble attempt to make amends with someone she hates by pretending to call her at the episode’s end. We all put on a good face for our parents that, except in certain cases, is probably far from who we are to our friends, or our coworkers or our teachers. We often pretend to enjoy people or things more than we actually do because to do otherwise interrupts social protocol. As the Bard said,


“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”


We lie a lot to save face, we put on a face to meet the faces that we meet and we present different facets of ourselves at different times – all of it acting. In that light, Ted’s admission that he has always wanted to be an actor is funny not only because we know Josh Radnor is an actor, but also because everyone already is an actor, even if it isn’t their trade.

I’m a theatre geek, interested in metatextuality and performance studies (among my many other assorted academic interests) and, yes, I used to tread the boards a little bit. I fucking loved this episode. It’s brilliant. And when I say that, I’m not acting.

The Husband:

I’m not entirely sure where to come down on this episode. Yes, the metatextuality was great, but how about the actual plot itself? It really breaks down into two separate things:

1.) If everything at the house, all the fake plots and lines, etc., were meant to be a direct parody of 1980s-1990s TGIF family sitcoms (Step By Step especially), then the episode was brilliant. The design of the house particularly lends credibility to this theory.

2.) If it didn’t have those types of shows in mind, aside from the Doogie Howser reference, then it was more weird than anything else.

I hope it’s more of the latter, but it was done with such a light touch that I couldn’t really put my finger on it. It’s tough enough getting a Barney-centric episode – those, such as “The Yips” or “Single Stamina” (yes, both the Wayne Brady episodes), tend to take away much of his comedic power, because he’s best when in the background simply mocking everybody else – so adding all the bizarre theatre jokes (the writers once again show off by dropping so much Brecht knowledge) and perhaps mocking an entire subgenre of television comedy might have been too tall of an order to make all the pieces work. That may explain why I was underwhelmed by the tiny Lily-Marshall story, even though it gave me the biggest laugh of the episode when Marshall screamed “I hate you” at Lily.

They can’t all be 100%, and HIMYM definitely has the best comedic good-versus-bad ratio on television (second place after the uproarious but somewhat cold 30 Rock, of course), so I shouldn’t really complain. Hell, it’s still better than most of the stuff out there, and I’d be impressed as all hell if this were on any lesser show.

NPH gives Frances Conroy a happy ending. Wait! No! I didnt mean it like that!

NPH gives Frances Conroy a happy ending. Wait! No! I didn't mean it like that!

Whatever. Basically, as a major fan of Six Feet Under, I love seeing Frances Conroy in anything, be it getting a massage-gasm on Desperate Housewives, being a mysterious gypsy trainer person in the otherwise risible Catwoman, or here played a former skankatron. It makes me not even care that we’ve already heard the voice of Barney’s mother on more than one occasion, and that voice was provided by Megan Mullally.