The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 17

Slate's Culture Blog
March 9 2010 8:18 AM

The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 17

Earlier this season, the Shame Index complained until he was blue in the face about how poorly How I Met Your Mother handled the relationship between Barney and Robin. The Index was especially irritated that the series expected viewers to accept that after the breakup Robin would sit idly by and listen to Barney boast of his conquests just like old times. This week, HIMYM tried to address this issue with a day-late, dollar-short episode that has the Index in a lather all over again.

Shameful :

Jennifer Lopez. The Shame Index has a rather large soft spot for Lopez, dating back to her work opposite George Clooney in the trunk of a car . Like last week's special guest star, Carrie Underwood, Lopez was perfectly fine in her limited role, but the Index's complaint stands: Too many cameos. They're a crutch.

Ted's super date musical number. Too soon .

Also: A carriage ride, ice skating, dinner, and a show this is Ted Mosby's idea of a superdate? Why not throw in a ride on the Ferris wheel in the Toys "R" Us in Times Square.

Robin's mourning period. So much wrong here, the Index hardly knows where to begin. First off, the whole set-up doesn't really make much sense. Why is Robin so sad that Barney is taking Anita on a superdate? Robin asked Anita to crush Barney's spirit; she's worried that Anita's vaunted system of saying no will be overcome by a carriage ride, a pair of rented skates, and rear orchestra seats at The Lion King? This is what brings things to a head? Not Barney's attempt to sleep with seven women in seven days ? Not Barney's playbook of scams, cons, hustles, hoodwinks, gambits, stratagems, and bamboozles ? The writers tried to address the "why now?" question by showing us a flimsy montage of Robin crying after being exposed to Barney's jerkiness over the last few months. But the Index wasn't buying that Sixth Sense -ish trick.

The Index gets, of course, that Robin was upset last night because Barney never treated her to a superdate. But, again, the set-up doesn't make sense. The super date isn't romantic. It's just a means to an end the latest Barney stratagem for nailing the latest woman to present a challenge. And this is what bothers her? That she never got the royal treatment from Barney? She's not troubled by the fact that Barney returned to his promiscuous ways after their breakup without so much as a pang for her?

Are we meant, now, to feel as though Barney is absolved? Giving Robin his super date and throwing himself in the Hudson were magnanimous acts, sure. But Barney's contrite moment at the shooting range rang hollow after weeks of watching him bed woman after woman as Robin looked on. HIMYM tried to show us a more complicated, thoughtful, emotion-having Barney when he and Robin got together, but the series quickly backed away from that Barney in favor of the sex hungry caricature. You can't have it both ways.

Don. The Index has expressed skepticism about Don from the moment he first appeared, but he has also held out hope that HIMYM would eventually make some effort to show us why Don is a worthy match for Robin. Unless the Index missed an episode, however, Don's lone act of gentlemanliness to date consists of agreeing to wear pants when he's on set. Marshall seems to think Don is a great guy (and even claimed last night that Don is smart, which came as a surprise). But the series has given us very little reason to share Marshall's estimation. Did any viewer out there pump a fist when Robin and Don kissed against the romantic backdrop of a poorly green-screened fireworks display? What a waste of a courtship.

Awesome :

Robin's recent story: "Which rodents to avoid on the subway the answer may surprise you."

The bang-bang song. The Index, in a bad mood after this upsetting episode, was ready to put the bang-bang song in the Shameful ledger. Then he caught himself singing it in the shower this morning. It is catchy.

Barney and Anita's hot and heavy discussion of small, flaccid fibers. "You're in luck because mine's the tiniest."

Of Course You're Still Single, Take a Look at Yourself You Dumb Slut .

" But um "

"And frankly I'm still angry at the empire."

Bang, bang, bangety-bang. Bang, bang, bang bangety-bang ... Sing along in the comments.

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Previous Shame Indices: Episode  1 2 3 4 5 ,   6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 ,   14 ,   15 , 16

John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor.