Wednesday, October 17, 2012

HIMYM 8.04: "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?"

“If you want him to be raised by his underwear on a flagpole, Ted is your guy.”

“Who Wants to Be a Godparent,” where Marshall and Lily contemplate what their friends truly mean to them, was probably my favorite episode of this season of HIMYM thus far. It’s not in the pantheon of best episodes of the series, but it was enjoyable, and there was only one aspect of the episode that made me actively angry. Setting a low bar, I know. This, like all episodes of HIMYM that I like more than the average, mirrored issues I’ve experienced in my own life, albeit in a more exaggerated way. Most importantly, it had some genuinely funny moments. I haven’t laughed a whole lot at HIMYM this season, but the game Marshall put together to choose a godparent for Marvin got a chuckle out of me. The game also provided a great opportunity to showcase all the characters, as we got a chance to see how they would all react to a number of parenting scenarios.

The set-up for this episode was Marshall and Lily having their first night out with the gang in a long time (they’ve been understandably busy with Marvin). When they ask the rest of the gang how things are going, everyone pretends that things are just fine because Marshall and Lily had previously told them that now that they’re parents, they only want to hear about problems that are an 8 or above on a scale of seriousness. The rest of the gang are all having issues that might be trivial in the grand scheme of things, but are pretty bothersome right now. Victoria’s dad is making Ted pay for Victoria and Klaus’ called-off wedding, and Robin’s disappointed that Nick’s new bike is really lame. Barney just banged a chick slightly below his usual standard.

Anyway, while capping off their free time with a walk, Marshall and Lily almost get hit by a cab. This makes them (especially Marshall) reevaluate things, and they realize that they probably ought to have a will. They go to a website to draw up the document, which I would usually discourage, but since Marshall’s a lawyer, I suppose it’s okay, and they’re figuring things out just fine until they have to name a guardian for Marvin. First they go back and forth with family members, each not approving of the other’s parent(s) being Marvin’s guardian. They think one of Marshall’s brothers might be a good choice because he has kids and seems to be a good dad, but it turns out that he’s run off to Hawaii or the Caribbean or somewhere else generically beachy. The next level of possibilities would be friends. The only problem is that Ted, Robin, and Barney all want the job.

Robin, Ted, and Barney get more and more extreme in their attempts to become Marvin’s godparents. Ted and Robin get into a sort of teddy bear war, each bringing bigger and bigger bears to Lily and Marshall’s apartment. Barney takes the singing telegram concept to the next level, singing dirty versions of childhood songs, with a different costume for every song. It would be funny if I wasn’t so sick and tired of the return of Cartoon Barney. Is it too much to ask for Barney to be a well-rounded, remotely human-like character? Oh and this isn’t the one thing that really, especially annoyed me about this episode. I’m kind of used to Cartoon Barney rearing his ugly head now and then, so it’s not something that spoils and episode for me on its own.

Tired of their friends falling all over each other in this unofficial competition, Marshall and Lily decide to make the competition official. Marshall comes up with an elaborate, Wheel of Fortune type game called Who Wants to Be a Godparent. Lily’s in a fancy Vanna White dress, and she does the wheel spinning. Which brings me to the one thing that really, really irked me about this episode. It was kind of complete character assassination of Lily. Lily has been many different things, but one constant is that she’s always been strong. In this episode, her role was relegated to either getting weepy every time Marshall made a reference to making a will or death, or being giddy over being pretty again in her dress. It was just not anything like a real person. It was as if she was written as the stereotype of a vapid woman, and it was really disappointing. The Lily I’ve gotten to know over the past three years would have taken a much more active role in figuring out her son’s guardian and wouldn’t have gotten weepy at the mere mention of making a will.

Anyway, the game itself was kind of fun. We got to see how Barney, Robin, and Ted all thought they would handle big time parenting scenarios like informing Marvin of his parents’ death, telling Marvin about the birds and the bees, and disciplining him for stealing another kid’s toy. Robin, given her pseudo-military upbringing, would take a very tell-it-like-it-is approach. Barney would let Marvin run wild and teach him how to be a bro. Ted would go all professor, but with a puppet called Professor Infosaurus. Out of the three, Ted would pretty clearly be the best parent, although maybe he’d be a bit too coddling. It’s hard to say. Anyway, Marshall and Lily are having a tough time making their decision, and eventually Ted, Robin, and Barney get fed up and leave. They also call Marshall and Lily on not being very good friends since Marvin was born. Marshall and Lily argue that Marvin has to come first. There will be no closing MacLaren’s for them anymore.

After Ted, Robin, and Barney leave, Marshall and Lily realize that their friends are their family too, and they need to devote some care to those relationships. They get a babysitter and go downstairs to join the rest of the gang at MacLaren’s. They even rescind the “don’t tell us about a problem unless it’s an eight” rule. The whole gang spends the rest of the night gossiping and working through their minor in the grand scheme of things troubles, and it’s kind of sweet. While I don’t think Marshall and Lily should be closing MacLaren’s every night as new parents, getting out once in a while is probably good for them, and in turn, good for Marvin. Ted, Robin, and Barney all pass out at Marshall and Lily’s apartment, and when the early crying starts to happen, the gang (for the most part) spring into action. Marshall and Lily end up naming all three of their friends as guardians.

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