The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 18

Slate's Culture Blog
March 23 2010 8:13 AM

The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 18

Just when the Shame Index thought he was out,  How I Met Your Mother  pulls him back in. Last week's attempt to retroactively complicate Robin and Barney's relationship left the Index in  high dudgeon . This week's episode, by contrast, was completely disarming. A clever central conceit, a series of amusing gags, a modicum of drama, and a heartwarming but not too saccharine conclusion. This is the way it should be.

Awesome :

John Swansburg John Swansburg

John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor.

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Lily's birthday tiara.

—Marshall's theme for  for this year's celebration of Lily's birthday ("Spanish interlude"); the birthday games he devised ("Lilial Pursuit," "Gilding the Lily"); the birthday song he wrote ("Happy Happy Lily Day"); pretty much all of Marshall's elaborate birthday plans.

"You're just saying camera words."

The run of skanks that Ted has insinuated into important group moments. (The Shame Index thought the word  skank  was perhaps poorly chosen how many skanks have we seen Ted bring home? Not usually his style but maybe it's exactly the word we'd expect from an enraged Lily.) Of particular note were the strident Strawberry and the girl who managed to obscure Slash in the photo at MacClaren's. And the Index always welcomes another glimpse of Ted's tumultuous relationship with Laura Prepon's Karen.

"Fun fact: Each year my mother has Easter tea with her friend Bunny." That  was  a fun fact, Robin don't let the others tell you otherwise!

Ted's inability to remember Leilani's name.

Barney always takes a good picture; Marshall always takes a bad one.

"Does this hot piece of ass look like she's 42 to you?"

All of the flashbacks to the college days, but especially the final one, in which Ted invited Lily to join the roommate photo. It was a sweet moment but not a cloying one, felt true to Ted's character, and provided a clever resolution to the standoff between Ted and Lily. An excellent piece of plotting.

Barney's cilantro allergy, and the final group photo. It had been too long since the kicker to an episode had really worked, but last night the writers expertly applied the icing to the cake. Happy 42nd, Lori.

  Shameful :

—" I put a bow on it." (This was actually kinda funny, but the Index needed  something  to be ashamed of, and generally speaking, Marshall is funnier when he's not working bleu .)

The Index has  strong feelings  about the importance of keeping birthday celebrations intimate, and thus could commiserate with Lily. Is the Index being too easy on this episode? Was there shame here the Index didn't register? Share your impressions in the comments, and bring a friend.

Update, 8:49am: Be sure to check out James Poniewozik's latest HIMYM Watch post , in which he discusses how last night's episode addressed an essential question: Why are these five people friends? 

Previous Shame Indices: Episode  1 2 3 4 5 ,   6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 ,   14 ,   15 ,   16 , 17  

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