The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 7

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 10 2009 9:29 AM

The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 7

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John Swansburg John Swansburg

John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor.

The Shame Index

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last week's episode of

How I Met Your Mother

the best yet this season. Last night's was surely the worst. A fat suit? Porn jokes? A rough patch, indeed.



Shameful:

—Barney's gift of his porn collection to Ted: This typically Web-savvy series wants us to believe that Barney still watches porn on VHS? The series of easy jokes about porn plots and titles was just plain lazy.



—"Relationship gut": The Shame Index almost always finds the fat suit a comic cop-out, and this was a particularly shameful use of it. The joke never got more sophisticated than "it's funny because he's fat." The only upside was that the fat suit revealed just how good Neil Patrick Harris is at using his physiognomy to sell his material. The few potentially funny lines from this sequence—"I'm my own wingman tonight"—fell flat when they came from Fat Barney's expressionless mask.



—Lily's absurd plan to break up Robin and Barney. A claustrophobic scene—stuck in a station wagon with a bunch of bad running jokes: Marshall's insistence that Ted should have rented a van, Ted's persistent references to the porn collection, etc. Even a cameo from Alan Thicke couldn't save the scene, and that's saying something.



—Robin and Barney's breakup:

After all that—a season's worth of will-they-or-won't-they—

this

is how Robin and Barney's relationship ends? Because they've been fighting about dirty dishes and how best to describe the codpiece of an Imperial Stormtrooper? (Barney's womanizing past—a more believable concern for Robin—is lumped in with these frivolous issues and not seriously explored.) "Maybe there's just too much awesome here," Robin concludes. The Shame Index begs to differ.



—This isn't a breakup—we're getting back together as friends. Was that line left over from a Robin-Ted breakup scene that never aired? Jeepers.



Awesome:

—"That's not how you spell Buckminster Fuller." (OK, there was

one

funny porn joke.)



—"It was Legend ... wait for it ...

s of the Fall

."



—The

Lost in Space

robot gamely asking whether anyone wanted to get high after Lily's breakup plot fails.



—Crazy Meg to Alan Thicke: "So, you still on 73rd Street?"



After last week's episode, the Shame Index was bullish on the Robin-Barney relationship—it seemed that after a few false starts, the writers were beginning to find ways for these two to be funny together. Yet others—the

HIMYM

experts at

New York

's Vulture blog especially—

that putting Barney in a committed relationship deprives

HIMYM

's best character of his signature trait. The Shame Index would have liked to see the series try a little harder to make

work. But maybe awesome really does neutralize awesome.



Previous Shame Indices: Episode 1 , 2 , 3

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,

,

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