Tuned In

The Morning After: Brit Invasion

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HIMYM and Spears continue their marriage of convenience. / Cliff Lipson/CBS

In a bit of good upfront-week news, How I Met Your Mother was picked up for another season on CBS. That’s something to keep in mind when sitting through an episode like last night’s, with Britney Spears, who probably had at least a little to do with the decision after she juiced the show’s ratings in her first guest spot.

Britney’s first appearance, in which she played Ted-besotted receptionist Abby, was actually perfectly good, partly because Abby had a small enough subplot role that the whole Britneyness of Britney wasn’t distracting. “Everything Must Go” didn’t work nearly as well, and I can only blame Britney in part. I don’t think she quite syncs with HIMYM’s cast and its pace, but she wouldn’t make a bad sitcom actress. But the storyline and character the writers have contrived to shoehorn her into the show—kind of an extreme version of the borderline crazy-obsessives that characters on Friends were always hooking up with—just made her seem like she had wandered onto the wrong sitcom set.

The A-plot about Lily’s painting was a fair enough standalone episode, though, even redeeming what seemed like an overly cliched gay couple with Lily’s GCWOK patrons. At first I was disappointed that the writers went there, with GCWOK #1 drooling over Marshall as he came to recover the painting, until we saw that the cliches came from Marshall and Ted’s retelling of the story—each of them being Queer-Eye-era metrosexuals who crave the validation of gay men (Marshall for his body, Ted for his fashion sense). And a welcome guest spot from Larry Wilmore as a veterinarian; can he be Barney’s fake girlfriend next time?