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How I Met Your Mother "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?" Review: A Modern Family

How I Met Your Mother S08E04: "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?"

After last week's less-than-stellar episode of How I Met Your Mother spent half an hour treading water, the show bounced back tonight with "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?," which saw Ted, Robin, and Barney competing in a game show-like contest to determine who would be Marvin’s godparent in the event of Marshall and Lily’s deaths. It didn’t really advance the HIMYM mythology, but it was a lot of fun.

The core of HIMYM has always been the bond shared by Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall, and Lily. Their inside jokes and ridiculous stories are what’s held HIMYM together for over seven seasons. Last week’s episode not only failed to give us an interesting story, it also wandered away from the characters we love. HIMYM is at its best when we get to see how this group of friends pokes fun at each other, shares tales from their childhoods, and just hangs out. Watching the showrunners try to cram a caricatured Victoria and a one-dimensional Nick into the show was the opposite of legendary. It was awful.

But as I said above, "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?" was fun. The plot was simple, but we were reminded not only how neurotic these characters are, but also how much they honestly consider each other family. After Ted, Robin, and Barney each spent days trying to bribe Marshall and Lily into choosing them to be Marvin’s godparent, Marshall came up with a solution that would solve all of his problems: Create a game show that would give his friends the chance to explain how they would react to parenting scenarios, buy Lily a new dress (“I’m pretty again!”), and, oh yeah, let Marshall show off his amazing skills.

We got a good look at the first three "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?" scenarios: "Our Demise," which asked the gang to explain how they would tell Marvin about his parents’ death; "Discipline," which posed the scenario of Marvin stealing another kid’s toy; and "Birds and Bees," which, well, was pretty self-explanatory. Of course, each contestant had their own style of answers. Barney had every intention of raising Marvin to be a chip off the ol’ Barnacle, wearing suits and loving fancy belts. Robin’s thoughts on raising a child stemmed from her own tough-love upbringing. And Ted? Well, Ted was going to rely on Professor Infosaurus, a singing and rapping dinosaur puppet that I want to see more of on the show. Classic Ted.

The gang eventually got fed up with Marshall’s game, pointing out that because of the eight-or-higher rule of importance that Marshall and Lily had established when Marvin was born, the couple no longer cared about the rest group. Once their friends had left the apartment, Marshall and Lily realized that even though they were ready to choose a godparent, they didn’t know anything about their friends’ current lives. Marshall and Lily asked Lily’s dad to babysit and met everyone else at MacLaren’s. Drinks were had. Stories were shared. No one left until they'd closed the bar down. I wasn’t surprised when Marshall and Lily named Ted, Robin, and Barney as Marvin’s godparents, but it was still a touching moment. After an episode where HIMYM seemed to forget who the friends we cared about were, Marshall and Lily remembered who their friends were.

Here’s what I propose now: If a HIMYM episode can’t advance the show’s mythology, if it can’t get us closer to Ted meeting the infamous mother, it should be an episode like "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?." I love episodes like "Farhampton," the season premiere that moved Ted closer to finding his wife than he had ever been. I also love episodes that remind us that these characters interact with their friends the same way I interact with my own friends. We all have our inside jokes and group quirks. This is why HIMYM means so much to many of us. We see ourselves in these characters. We don’t see ourselves in Victoria or Nick. They don’t mean anything to us. Let’s get through the Autumn of Break-ups, drop the dead weight, and focus on the characters we love. Our time together is growing shorter, and I don’t want to waste it on what doesn’t matter anymore.

Notes and quotes

– While I like to avoid Victoria and Nick as much as possible, Ted and Robin’s issues with their significant others were funny. Ted would allow himself to get roped into paying Victoria’s dad for the wedding she bailed on, wouldn’t he?

– And, speaking of these stories, Robin’s motorcycle gear instantly made me think of Cobie Smulders’ The Avengers outfit. Which reminds me of this.

– Didn’t Marshall’s brother Marcus learn anything from the episode of Boy Meets World where Corey wanted to remain on his honeymoon and make a living selling coconuts carved to look like faces? Marcus’s dream of being a mixologist in paradise just isn’t realistic.

– Robin on the idea of Ted raising Marvin: “If you want him to be raised by his underwear on a flagpole, Ted is your guy.”

– It looks like Robin has come full circle on the idea of having children, from her Season 1 stance of never wanting kids to now jockeying for the rights to be Marvin’s godparent. I guess that sock from Season 4’s "Not a Father’s Day" changed Robin’s outlook on offspring.

– Barney singing his own version of "The Wheels on the Bus" at Marshall’s door: “The boobs on the bus go up and down, up and down, up and down...” [Marshall closed door, paused, then opened the door again.] Barney: “...all through the town …”

– Marshall introducing the game of "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?" to his friends: “I just wanted to make the idea of Lily and me dying fun.”

– The teddy bear gag absolutely got me, especially when the toy reached a size that was too big for Robin to even pull it through the apartment door, leaving her sprawled out on the floor. Nice touch bringing the giant teddy bear back to show Lily crying into it. I guess the Marshpillow has some company now.

– Ted on Professor Infosaurus: “You’ll see, Professor Infosaurus will be a big, big hit.” I love Professor Infosaurus.

– At first, I was hoping HIMYM would show Robin’s dad again, but then I remembered that Eric Braeden isn’t the actor playing him anymore. Without The Young and the Restless’s Victor Newman, Robin Scherbatsky Sr. just isn’t the same guy.

– Barney in response to the idea of Professor Infosaurus teaching the birds and bees: “I’m sorry, but you actually have to have sex to explain it.”

– Robin pointing out that she wouldn’t have to teach Marvin about the birds and bees because of Marshall’s studliness: “Lily got a little braggy at a cucumber stand once. Big guy.”

– Barney telling Ted to give up trying to justify his Cleveland references: “Ted, neither you nor Cleveland know how to get over someone leaving them.”

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Bill Kuchman
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