Tuned In

HIMYM Watch: Bang a Gong (Get It On)

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As of this writing, the search string “how i met your mother ted douche” returns over 100,000 hits on Google. I’m not sure if I should be surprised that it doesn’t get fewer or more, but I have notice that descriptive and his name used together with increasing regularly on this and other TV sites. So to hear Ted say it to himself last night, “I’m the biggest douche on the planet” was strangely satisfying. Someone out there is listening!

I’m not sure I really loved the way that How I Met Your Mother had Ted come to that moment of self-doucheualization. It’s a fine line with a character like him: we’ve seen him as the character who, within the course of daily life, waxes a little pretentious now and then, but he’s not exactly Frasier Crane, as this episode all but made him out to be. For one thing, I’m not sure he actually has the knowledge and sophistication for it; whenever the show has him talk about architecture, for instance, his references are pretty pedestrian, which is to say, they’re references I could come up with if you asked me about architecture. We haven’t really seen him before as the kind of guy who could produce the Divine Comedy in the original Italian on demand, except that this episode needed to bring him to a state of heightened douchiness in order to have his moment.

Of course, I realize that, now that I am assessing the level of knowledge of a sitcom character in order to judge his character integrity, you are all sitting there making fart noises at me. Fine! Be that way! Jeez! [Stomps off. Pause. Sheepishly returns.]

In any case, it was fun to see Barney hitting on special guest Arianna Huffington, and Ted barbershopping with Peter Bogdanovich and Wil Shortz. With all the intellectual guest-starring going on here, maybe HIMYM could do a crossover with Treme.

The more noteworthy long-term development was Marshall and Lily’s decision to maybe possibly consider having a baby. Which also, like Ted’s realization, was a kind of meta moment for the show. As Lily said, if they become parents, it will change their lives and their position on the show (at least if the series wants to retain believability). HIMYM has to ask itself whether it’s ready for that, or whether it wants to retain the fun times of the gang hanging out together like old times for as long as possible. With Barney and Robin, the producers decided it was a change too far, and they reversed course quickly.

Personally, I don’t need Lily and Marshall to have a baby, but it would make sense. HIMYM has established itself as a sitcom where things actually change over time, and it can’t stay in its holding pattern forever. I know some fans disagree with me, and want to maintain the status quo—the gang hanging out at the bar, Barney lying his way into women’s pants—for as long as possible. I think HIMYM is what it is because ultimately it has higher aspirations than that.

OK, make your fart noises now.

* Just one lonely bullet on this one. This episode got me thinking about an issue that the New York Times covered last fall: has douche officially crossed the linguistic line into acceptibility? Is it becoming the new “sucks,” a word that’s so removed from its original meaning that it’s no longer out of place anywhere? Where does it lie on the spectrum of profanity that runs from “fart” to “__________er”? I need to know this before I use it in front of my mom.