How I Met Your Mother has had some fun with the stereotype of the crazy girl in the past — most memorably in season two’s “Swarley” (starring Crazy Eyes, a.k.a. Mrs. Nick Brody) and season three’s “How I Met Everyone Else,” which featured Blah Blah, a woman whose real name Future Ted forgot (yet he recalls so many irrelevant details from the rest of his life!). Strangely, the writers kind of apologized for what might be construed as sexism in this department when they excused Jeanette’s lunacy by putting forth the theory that a woman is only as nuts as the dude she’s dating (wisdom courtesy of Mike Tyson). That’s nice and all, but in this case, we beg to differ. Jeanette (Abby Elliott) is out of her mind, and the fact that Ted continues to hook up with her regardless suggests to us that he’s terrified of the alternative and not that he is trying to deliberately mislead her. She’s a strange character to waste some good intentions on.
Also, her craziness was not terribly creative. She has rage issues, which Ted has encountered before, according to the story he tells in “Swarley” of a woman who once took a bat to the windshield of a car with slight provocation. She holds séances and believes in cat exorcisms. It’s all sort of boilerplate, and certainly certifiable, but she’s a cawp, so what can Ted do? This plot was not entirely objectionable, but it seemed sort of contrived. We learn that Marshall and Barney use Ted’s apartment as their clubhouse to do bro-ish things like play video games (because women hate video games?), so it sort of makes sense that they’re over at his house, but it’s less clear why Ted suddenly and mysteriously steps out while warning them not to let Jeanette in. Didn’t that seem about as convenient as the lack of dependable wireless service in horror movies? Naturally she comes over and proceeds to lock herself in Ted’s bedroom, which she can do because during Hurricane Sandy, Ted stocked up on water and nonperishables and had a disposable waste system installed in there (convenience number two, no pun intended).
The B plot was just as unnecessarily complicated, but more satisfying. That Robin has never held Marvin was believable — and her breathless “this is exhilarating” when she finally does was perfect — but the prolonged story of the one day when she was in charge of Marvin while Lily chased down the bus with his binky bored us. It unfolds over a number of years, in which Lily and Robin seem to evolve simultaneously into Connecticut housewives, but at least the payoff was clever. We were a little skeptical when Robin ended up at a strip club with that kindly old lady, but it made way more sense when that old lady turned out to be (future
mayor senator) Mike Tyson. Still, the laborious storytelling called attention to itself, and the entire episode was kind of a yawn.
What we liked:
- The callback to the “he’s a cawp” schtick, though this Departed gimmick was only introduced a few episodes ago. Callbacks this quick flirt with laziness, but we were low on laughs last night, so we’ll count it.
- Robin’s skepticism of babies. Her lack of maternal instincts was established — well, probably since the beginning of the series, but it was best summarized in season three’s “Little Boys”: “It’s cute that their shoes are real little, but beyond that, what’s the draw?” She softened a little in season four’s “Not a Father’s Day,” stealing Jeremy’s tiny sock after making a case against having babies to Lily.
- The shout-out to the Barclays Center. Should the day ever come when HIMYM can afford to actually shoot an episode in New York, we’ll be thrilled, but until then, we have to content ourselves with reasonably savvy references to Smith and 9th Street and the new Brooklyn arena.
- Ted’s likening Jeanette to bedbugs: “Once you let her in, you’ll never get rid of her.” It doesn’t seem right that the series hasn’t had a bedbugs plotline given the panic that gripped the city a few years ago, but we guess some things are too horrific to laugh about. Maybe the acknowledgement of their existence is enough.
- Mike Tyson saying he could eat Marvin up. Perhaps this was in poor taste, because Tyson did once threaten to eat Lennox Lewis’s children, but it made what looked like a pointlessly long story worthwhile.
What we didn’t like:
- That Jeanette is the woman who convinces Ted he’s ready for marriage once and for all. Maybe he’s had some fun along the way, but he’s pretty much been ready since the very first episode ever, and no matter what Jeanette does, she can’t be worse than Zoey! Also, since this relationship obviously isn’t going to last, it will be interesting to see what the writers do with Ted for a whole other season, because presumably this episode was shot before the decision to renew the series.
- The cuckoo-clock prop. Compared to Barney’s hot/crazy scale, this didn’t seem very inspired. Even the reemergence of the red cowboy boots felt a little forced, like perhaps they showed up just to establish some loose continuity. And on the topic of poor props, did anyone notice that the meatball in Barney’s (non-exploding) sub was clearly ready to fall out, and surely would have with all his gesticulating, and yet didn’t? Not nitpicking, just saying it was a very fake-looking sandwich.
- Lily’s conclusion that it’s okay for Ted to date an insane woman because he’s a little insane right now. Is he? He seems pretty solidly like the Ted from every other season to us.
We wonder if the next stretch of episodes will suffer a little because they were presumably written before the series’ fate had been decided and might just end up treading water.