“The Front Porch”
March 16th, 2009
In bringing in Karen, Ted’s ex-girlfriend from his high school days, How I Met Your Mother has returned to the temporality that often sets it apart from other sitcoms. The show’s basic premise is one of its defining legacies, as the very idea of this being one large story told by Future Ted to his own children has given the past (and memory, and revisionist history) a very important meaning. Even further, episodes on occasion create alternate futures, showing that Ted and the rest of the characters are just as concerned with their own prospective futures as we are about the future we know is inevitable.
“The Front Porch” is ultimately a mediation more on this last idea than the former, the past serving as evidence for the concern for the future. The result is an episode that is less about Karen and more about what Karen could represent, and a more subtle than expected refocusing on the answers to the episode’s central question: how does Ted, exactly, meet this mother? Flanked by some simple but effective little pieces of comedy, the episode avoids sending Ted into a place too annoying, and Lily to a place too mean, in its navigation of what is quite an important issue in the show’s future, and one that could well be heading to a conclusion before the season is over.