Saturday, February 23, 2013

HIMYM 8.16: "Bad Crazy"

“Cray-cray gotta go bye-bye before you get stabbed-stabbed.”

“Bad Crazy” was a decent episode of HIMYM. It certainly wouldn’t make the Legendary list I put together back in the very early days of MTVP, but it was an enjoyable enough watch for the most part. It did what HIMYM does best reasonably well, which is playing with perception and the concept of the unreliable narrator. The episode told two fairly separate stories, each of which changed drastically as the central characters (Ted in one and Robin in the other) admitted to details they had either omitted or changed when first telling the story. It was really a gimmick episode, which I don’t think is something that should be used often, but in this case, it worked for the most part, mostly because Robin’s story was so absurd. Ted’s story was sort of absurd too, I suppose, but not in the farcical way that Robin’s was.

Anyway, the title of the episode refers to Jeanette, Ted’s last horrible girlfriend before finally meeting the elusive Mother. Jeanette is just plain nuts, even though we find out by the end of the episode that Ted isn’t completely innocent in what happens between them. There really should have been a reference to the Hot/Crazy scale from “Swarley” at some point in this episode, but there wasn’t. Ted really wants to break up with Jeanette, but he’s afraid to. And it turns out he has good reason to be afraid. She doesn’t take break-ups well at all, and she’s a cop to boot. She was so unpleasant and crazy that the experience of dating her made Ted decide to stop dating and settle down for good. And then, of course, he met the Mother.

We’ll get the Robin/Lily story out of the way first since it was a little more simple than Ted’s story. In a nice callback to past episodes that have explored Robin’s discomfort around children (we’re just going to forget that short stretch of episodes where she actually thought she wanted kids), we learn that in Marvin’s eight months of life, Robin has never held him. Mostly because she’s afraid she’ll injure him or something. I really identify with this aspect of Robin’s character, which we also explored in the third Robin Sparkles episode, “Glitter.” I too have a best friend with a young child (one year old in my case) and have similar difficulty interacting with kids, as freaking adorable as both the kids in question (Marvin Eriksen and my “nephew”) certainly are.

Anyway, Robin’s fear of holding Marvin comes to a head when Lily accidentally leaves Marvin’s binkie on the bus, and she asks Robin to watch Marvin while she runs off to retrieve it. Robin hopes this will just involve her watching the stroller, but no such luck. Marvin decides to have a good cry, and Robin tries to soothe him by rocking the stroller. When Lily returns, Robin says that everything was just fine. Four years later, though, Robin and Lily are having wine in a swanky New York brownstone (Robin’s, maybe?), and Robin says there’s more to the story. She let a strange older lady hold Marvin to calm him down. Throughout the episode, we see similar wine drinking in the brownstone scenes taking place at various points in the future, all the way up to 17 years from now. In each one, Robin adds to the story a little and swears that’s all that happened. First the stroller rolls down the street, then the old lady suggests they all go somewhere to calm down that ends up being a strip club. Then the old lady is actually Mike Tyson. That last bit is creepy as hell, but 17 years in the future Lily is shocked that her son was rocked to sleep by “Senator Mike Tyson.”

Back in 2013, after a particularly nasty fight, Ted decides that he really does need to break up with Jeanette. His friends advise him to do it in a public place, and Ted is most certainly going to take that advice. He chooses a Nets game as the venue. Awfully expensive break-up date, I think. Ted starts to go into his break-up speech with a “we have to talk,” but Jeanette immediately goes nuts, accusing him of cheating on her with Lily. We then cut to the next day, where Ted warns Marshall and Barney, who are at his apartment to enjoy some guy time, not to let Jeanette in the apartment while he’s gone. Of course this doesn’t happen. The guys do let Jeanette in after all, and Ted realizes it as soon as he gets home and hears his stuff being smashed upstairs.

Ted has absolutely no luck getting Jeanette to leave, and his call to the police does no good because Jeanette is a cop and tells dispatch that she’s responding to the call. As Ted complains to the rest of the gang, they gradually get him to admit just why Jeanette might be so upset (other than her base level of crazy, of course). Ted first admits that he left Jeanette without officially breaking up, hoping she’d get the hint and never all him again. Which is a pretty douche move, if you ask me, even if she was nuts. In even further levels of douchiness, Ted later reveals that he kissed Jeanette at the Nets game to make her be quiet. Holy mixed signals, Batman. Anyway, the upshot of all that craziness is that Lily advises Ted that maybe Jeanette is the right girl for him right now. She’s a little crazy and he’s a little crazy at the moment. Ted decides to go back up to his room and try to make things work with Jeanette.

So while this episode was generally entertaining, there were still a few things that irked me about it (beyond the broadly comedic style that seems to characterize all episodes of HIMYM these days). The first was the disrespect it showed towards women. The theme of the episode really seemed to just be “bitches be crazy.” Jeanette is crazy, although most likely not to the exaggerated extent that Narrator!Ted remembers. I’m sure there are plenty of nice women in New York who wouldn’t physically assault Ted. And Barney and Marshall have to keep bringing stuff they bought over to Ted’s apartment because Robin and Lily are mean and won’t let them keep things like arcade games and canoes in their respective apartments. So horrible, I know! I would have liked to have seen a little less griping about the women in general in this one.

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