Grading 'HIMYM' by its recognizable human behavior

If you’re following along with these recaps every week — well first, thank you! You’re a hero. But more importantly, you and I share a few similarities. Presumably, you’ve been watching this show called How I Met Your Mother regularly for the better part of the last decade. You’ve seen it through highs (season two) and lows (Abby Elliott’s Jeanette character), focusing always on the endgame. That’s why you watched and continue watching, right? There’s going to be some payoff to these 200+ episodes, dammit, and to give up just shy of the finish line…no, you’ve got to keep going. You’ve made it this far. Keep going.

Closure isn’t the only reason you’ve kept HIMYM on your DVR, though. At one point, Ted, Marshall, Barney, Robin, and Lily all conveyed genuine human qualities that we could understand and connect with! We cried when Ted had his heart broken; laughed at the slaps Marshall inflicted upon Barney, who always had it coming. HIMYM could sandwich genuine pathos between hilarious slapstick and it always made sense, because the characters vibrated on a human wavelength.

Today, it’s all egg-scrambling contests and yell-y guest star-driven scenes that make no goddamn sense. Honestly, if you stumbled on a current episode after several years in the dessert, or a coma, you’d be more than a little confused as to what show you were watching. There are all the characters you remember but…Lily keeps shattering glasses because she’s mad at Marshall’s career choices, Marshall himself is stuck in a road trip “comedy” with Sherri Shepherd. This is HIMYM as filtered through the Ghost of Christmas Future, Ted long ago losing the thread of the story he’s telling his kids and throwing in filler for years and years.

All of which is a longwinded way to suggest that, in accepting that HIMYM is no longer the HIMYM of our youth, it would be best both for my recapping stress and our collective mental health if we graded these episodes on a curve. Excellence, we’ve all just got to accept, is for the moment no longer the barometer for success on this show. No, what we’ve got to look at it — what we need to judge — is how closely plots match even recognizable human behavior. These episodes are only 21 minutes long, but it’s the only way we’ll come close to getting through. So here we go!

Marshall and Daphne stop over at Ted’s mom’s house for some reason and inadvertently leave with a stowaway, Ted’s stepdad Clint

Plausible for HIMYM?: By the standards of this season, in which every scene is an opportunity for previous guests — some obscure and some less obscure — to momentarily remind us they were once on the show? Then absolutely. This one makes perfect sense

Plausible for humankind?: It’s entirely plausible that Marshall, Ted’s best friend, would spend the night at Ted’s mom’s place before continuing the drive to Farhampton. What is not plausible is Clint’s hippy unlicensed therapist, in any capacity. And the guy gets the episode tag!

Beyond pissed by Marshall's judgeship news, Lily freaks out every time she hears or accidentally says a law-related word

Plausible for HIMYM?: I couldn’t tell you when it began, but Lily has over the course of the last few seasons become the show’s most obnoxious, unlikable character. That she would literally crush glasses with her hands feels sadly on point at this stage.

Plausible for humankind?: Lily should have been kicked out of the Farhampton Inn about a month ago for various petty crimes she’s committed under its roof. (Not to say that her friends haven’t done the same, but Lily’s list of infractions stands alone.) NO, humans don't crush glasses and NO their friends don't think it's cute, they think it's fucking insane.

Lily yells at Ted to get his shit together and stop looking for The One

Plausible for HIMYM?: Yes! We like this one!

Plausible for humankind?: Yes! So plausible, in fact, that we wish Lily would have done this about five years ago, when Ted’s whole “One” search was crashing around his left-at-the-altar life. Stella was the last believable love interest of Ted's, each subsequent lady a recognizable stall-tactic with diminishing returns. Let the guy give up...right before finding The One, the The One.

Robin and Loretta’s passive-aggressive fight about eggs leads to an “egg-off” sanctioned by the entire hotel

Plausible for HIMYM?: Sadly, yes.

Plausible for humankind?: FAST-FORWARD I HATE THIS SO MUCH

Two years in the future, Ted proposes to The Mother on top of a nearby lighthouse; she says yes

Plausible for HIMYM?: Happily, yes!

Plausible for humankind?: Another bright spot in an otherwise perpetually overcast episode, and season. Bays & Thomas have already churned out a number of these episodes well before online chatter and recaps could have even a sliver of an impact (if anything) on what the creative team is doing, but I hope they realize that the stray Ted/Mother scenes have all been standouts. They’re lighthearted and sweet, capturing the energy of HIMYM in its heyday. People care about stuff! They express themselves like humans! My sincere hope is that by midseason, we’ve dispensed with all the table-setting and can dive into meatier Ted/Mother scenes (engagement being a great start!) that harken back to the show in its prime. We’ll see what happens.

See? With the right mindset, I PROMISE you we will find a way to make it through. See you next week!