How I Met Your Mother – “Not a Father’s Day”


“Not a Father’s Day”

November 10th, 2008

If there was a checklist of HIMYM tropes, this episode tried to tick off every single one of them. You had a new Barney-ism (“The Cheerleader Effect”), a new egotistical celebration of bachelorhood from Barney (the titular “Not a Father’s Day”), Ted and Robin clashing over the value of having children, and our characters facing more realities of being 30+.

It isn’t breaking any new ground, no, but it’s a solid piece of comedy that feels distinctly HIMYM, instead of feeling distinctly like a traditional sitcom as it can sometimes do. There’s a certain pace that “Not a Father’s Day” keeps, helped mostly by Alyson Hannigan’s ability to play drunk with such wonderful abandon and Cobie Smulders being let loose as Robin to a degree that was almost too over the top, which really keeps things moving here: even though this was really a setup episode for two major plot shifts (one involving the living situation at the apartment, the other a life-changing decision for Marshall and Lily), it was a mighty fine concoction while it went down.

When there was that flashforward in the episode a few weeks back, where we saw everyone drinking the scotch at McLarens, everyone noted that Lily very distinctly did not take a sip, and looked awfully thoughtful about it. At that point, the question was easy: was Lily pregnant? It was an obvious answer, and based on both real life news (that Hannigan herself is pregnant) and this episode’s central question it appears that the show acknowledges that the question needs to be asked at least. However, the math doesn’t add up if they’re going to write her pregnancy into the show…and that remains a big if, considering the conclusion we come to at the end of the episode.

The conflicting evidence, though, isn’t the concern of this episode: rather, it’s a discussion of whether or not Marshall and Lily should even have a baby. We’ve got Robin as the Prosecution, Ted as the Defense, and then Barney as the crazy cult of personality swarming around the case. It’s a fun setup, and it works especially well for Alyson Hannigan. This might end up being a smart Emmy submission for her, and one of her best in the series yet – for someone who has an “and” credit, she’s often marginalized in terms of big episode moments. Here, we see a whole lot of comic and emotional range, and I thought she nailed it. This is especially true with the “Drunk Lily as Baby” scenes, where she was just very on – we haven’t seen Lily that drunk since her wedding, and she plays the role well (and here, unlike in the season two finale, this episode was all about her).

It was also a big episode for Cobie Smulders, who got to take the most exaggerated qualities of Robin (her hatred of children, her love of guns, her lack of class in regards to mixing beer and ice cream) and turn them up to 11. Her debate with Ted was a lot of fun on its own, but the rest of the episode got to display Robin unleashed – we didn’t get to see just how much being unemployed led to this through logical thought processes, but just being able to see the funny part worked in the context of the episode. Robin’s relationship with Barney, as we remember, is really predicated on the fact that she is kind of like a cross between Ted and Barney: on one hand she has her brash, Canadian side that Barney can relate to, and then she has her sentimental, romantic side that appeals to/relates to Ted. It makes her a versatile character, and I think she could be used more efficiently on a regular basis.

Speaking of Barney and Ted, the former got a lot more time than the latter this week. While seeing Ted as the lame Dad (so true) was funny enough, Barney was the one who was playing out the tropes. We haven’t seen much original material for Barney so far this season, to be honest: we’ve seen a very one-note Barney, something that could be concerning. Here, it worked: Not a Father’s Day was a lot of fun, and I think the Cheerleader Effect (cleverly used twice, the second term turning his own term against him) will be one of the ones that enters into Barney’s pantheon of phrases. There should be concerns, however, about how Barney will continue to stay relevant: they need to normalize him at least a bit, and that is something to maybe expect in future episodes.

Overall, though, a solid outing: there was some fun use of different perspectives (Lily and Marshall’s experience with new parent Charlotte), the sock as emotional tug-of-war (Barney’s “Cats in the Cradle” coda was cute), and just a nice pace to the proceedings. Now, with chances for Ted and Robin to interact in their shared apartment ahead, we’ll see where we head from here.

Cultural Observations

  • Well finally – glad to see Marshall and Lily moved into their apartment. I know it smells, I know it was crooked, but I am darn glad that they’ve finally found a place of their own. Now, how much time they spend on it might become an entirely different issue.
  • On an unrelated note, Marshall needs to get a haircut – I dislike floppy haired Segel.
  • In case you were wondering (I was), is in fact an actual website, and you can even buy “Who’s Not Your Daddy?” paraphernalia at the HIMYM store, linked from the site.

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