October 15, 2019

How I Met Your Mother: The Broken Code

Ten minutes. That's how far I made it into this week's How I Met Your Mother episode without thinking “oh my god, when is this going to be over?” That ten minute mark is, not coincidentally, when the thread of the B-plot became clear: Robin doesn't have any female friends, in part because her father raised to her to be the son he would never have. Lily insists that she make some. Can you guess where this is going? The answer is: stereotype city, misogyny central. First of all, there are tons of women who share Robin's interests (hockey, guns, fine Scotch), and the idea that she couldn't find them in New York is laughable. Lily suggests that Robin isn't making the right kind of approach. “Like, what would you say to a woman at the gym?” she asks, which leads Robin into a monologue about how she just keeps losing weight without trying and Lily into an exhaustingly predictable rage. You know how women are: crazy jealous, especially of the skinny ones! It only gets worse from there. And it's not just that it's a hateful, damaging stereotype they're perpetuating: it is literally the most tired form of it imaginable, so phoned in I honestly wouldn't be surprised to learn that the writers had copy-pasted some material from a Reddit thread on standup and called it a day.

The A plot is tired in its own way: Barney saw Ted holding hands with Robin in the rain and he's (rightfully) pissed about Ted's continued inability to let go of his feelings for the ex he last dated years ago, who is now engaged to his best friend. The whole thing is made bearable only by the fact that their argument over whether Ted has broken The Bro Code is judged by Marshpillow: Lily's body pillow dressed in one of Marshall's jerseys with an iPad Facetiming him into their conversations. How I Met Your Mother has always gone for broad, middle-of-the-road humor, but those lame jokes used to be more cleverly clothed; the writing this season feels exhausted and hackneyed, like even the writers are bored of pretending they care.