The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 4

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 13 2009 9:43 AM

The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 4

Episode 4 finds How I Met Your Mother still wrestling with how to handle Barney and Robin's relationship—and still not quite finding the right formula.

—The sexless innkeeper: Doggerel. Period costumes. HIMYM was trying too hard, probably because the idea of the sexless innkeeper just wasn't that funny to begin with.

—The couples courtship: There were elements of awesomeness in this plotline (see below), but the joke about the parallels with singles courtship ran out of gas well before the episode came to a close. Here, too, the writers seemed to be straining for laughs.

—The tweed jokes.

—Marshall's obsession with photo montages set to music. The Shame Index has historically been obsessed with Marshall's obsessions, but this one was just silly. It was also the second time in this young season that HIMYM has relied on a woman's deep love of cats for comedy. Felt lazy.

— A funny idea, having Marshall make a Web site to commemorate the couple's night with Barney and Robin, but the execution was off. It didn't look anything like a Web site, which distracted from what was a great original musical composition by Marshall.

Awesome: : Now this is funny. Not only did CBS register the domain, but it also ponied up for a video of Marshall performing his song about the couples night—accompanied by Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt ! Indeed, the video turns out to be a remarkably faithful homage to the video for Extreme's classic ballad " More Than Words ." Best HIMYM Easter egg ever?

—Marshall's overeager retelling of his story about Sammy Hagar and the waffle. Also: The fact that Marshall's Sammy-Hagar-and-the-waffle story turns out to be that he once saw Sammy Hagar eating a waffle.

—The glimpses of Marshall and Lily's previous failed couples nights: "If you leave now, Colonel Mustard just gets away with it!"

—"Don't sleep on the gouda"—and pretty much all the gouda jokes. The Shame Index is a sucker for a nice aged gouda, especially when presented with "sturdy cheese-bearing crackers."

—The sexless innkeeper produced one funny line. "Don't charge for wifi," Barney admonishes Innkeeper Ted. "It seems greedy." So true.


Even accounting for the legendary Easter egg, this episode was on balance more shameful than awesome. It needed something stronger than the sexless innkeeper to take pressure off of the couples plotline. But chin up, HIMYM fan—there are reasons to be proud of your sitcom this week. Viewers who also enjoy NBC's The Office might have noticed that the much ballyhooed wedding of Jim and Pam took a page out of the HIMYM playbook. Overwhelmed by the events leading up to their wedding, Jim and Pam steal away from the church, elope on the Maid of the Mist , and then return for the wedding ceremony. Sound familiar? In Season 2 of HIMYM , Marshall and Lily, overwhelmed by the events leading up to their wedding, steal away from the church, elope in a quiet park, and then return for the wedding ceremony. A case of borrowing, or just great minds thinking alike? If Michael Scott makes a "Tabooty call" later this season, we'll have our answer.

Previous Shame Indices: Episode 1 , 2 , 3

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John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor. 



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