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From Artifact to Aimlessness: Robin Sparkles in HIMYM’s “Glitter”

From Artifact to Aimlessness: HIMYM’s “Glitter”

November 18th, 2010

I had originally wanted to have this up the day after “Glitter” aired, but I realized that this would be disadvantageous.

Things that are posted immediately after an episode feel like reviews, and I really don’t want to review “Glitter.” It was a pleasant episode of the series, an often silly bit of comedy that I do not consider an affront to my sensibilities or anything. And so, I do not want this sort of in depth analysis into my frustration with the episode to read like a condemnation of the direction the show has taken Robin Sparkles – this is more a consideration of what has happened, and why it moves away from the character’s origin, than any sort of critical evaluation of this strategy (many, after all, seemed to really enjoy it).

What I want to look as is why some people (myself included) felt this was more than a case of diminishing returns. I was underwhelmed by this episode, but it wasn’t because it wasn’t funny. Rather, it was because the elements of satire and parody which defined Robin Sparkles first introduction were entirely absent, both in terms of the kind of humor the episode focused on (the unintended sexual connotation of nearly every comment) and the way in which the character was deployed.

And, as someone who has already written six thousand words on the series’ construction of Canada through Robin’s past, it’s only natural that I’ve got more to say on the issue after this half-hour.

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How I Met Your Mother – “Sandcastles in the Sand”

“Sandcastles in the Sand”

April 21st, 2008

Robin Cherbotsky is the perfect example of a character adrift in their own series – ever since breaking up with Ted at the end of Season Two, she has been an unnecessary footnote to How I Met Your Mother. This isn’t to say that she was unwelcome or grating, but you keep asking the question of “Why doesn’t she get her own life?” She’s not dating any of them, we never see her work or go out on her own, and outside of being Lily’s only friend there isn’t much holding her in the group dynamics.

But she does have one thing: Robin Sparkles. Used to great effect in the show’s second season, Robin’s teenaged pop star in Canada self is something they haven’t gone back to for quite some time, but the buzz is building: “Sandcastles in the Sand” is her grand return, and the first time in a while that Robin has featured prominently in the series in any capacity. We flashback to her teenage years in Canada (“Did he take your maple leaf?” and so many Canadian jokes that they needed a fast-forward mid-rant) where we see James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek, seemingly playing an Irish guy as far as I can tell) and really, really, really bad Canadian accents.

For the series, it all boils down to winners and losers as Robin and her old squeeze reunite…but which side of the spectrum are the viewers on considering that recapturing the magic of “Let’s Go to the Mall” is nearly impossible?

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