Tuesday, November 18, 2008

HIMYM, "Woooo!": The tears of a slutty clown

Spoilers for last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I get on this conference call...

For a show that started out exploring the advantages and disadvantages of couplehood (as represented by Lily and Marshall) vs. singlehood (as represented by Barney and Robin) through the eyes of a guy who wanted to leave the latter group to join the former, "HIMYM" has taken a decided pro-couplehood turn the last few episodes. Last week, we saw hardcore anti-childists Robin and Barney both overwhelmed by the power of "Sock!" and last night we had Robin explaining to Lily that the Woo Girls only Woo'ed to conceal their profound loneliness and envy of people like Lily.

Now, I'm firmly entrenched in the world of marriage, kids, suburbia, etc., and yet I miss the way the show tended to show both sides of the equation, like in that first season episode where Marshall really wanted to dance at the club instead of hang around with other couples on Game Night. It's one thing to suggest that some of the Woo Girls would rather be home for Game Night, but don't some people just like to party?

I also thought the Woo joke -- and the Dr. Seuss-style dialogue between Robin and Lily that accompanied it -- got repetitive after a little while before being re-energized at the very end by the Woo subtitles (particularly when Ted joined in on the action). Usually, "HIMYM" gives at least three spins on a joke, and here we only got two, with the second coming very late in the episode.

But the stuff with Barney and Sven: The Swedish Architecture Collective? Legen... well, you know the rest.

I know Barney wants to be Ted's best friend and all, but who wouldn't be lured in by the prospect of working inside the brain of a fire-breathing T-Rex, particularly one with a strip club in the N on top? Europeans and their weird affectations have been an easy punchline in America for years (see also Dieter on "SNL," or the nihilists from "The Big Lebowski"), but they're also a good punchline, and seeing Barney briefly think he'd found his kindred Swedish spirits was almost as terrific as the unexpected "Mad Men" shout-out during one of Barney and Marshall's rooftop "conference calls."

What did everybody else think?


Jeff Martin said...

I think the episode peaked when Barney dropped the Princess Leia sketch and ran out the door at the mere mention of "Woo girls." It got weak and repetitive from there.

KrisMrsBBradley said...

I thought it was one of the best shows so far this season. The conference calls, the Swedish collective, Marshal being able to decipher Robin's " I got the "thing" from "you-know-who" for the "you-know-what" speak.

More laugh out loud moments than most of this season's past shows.

Though I find myself laughing more at Big Bang Theory this season than at HIMYM. I'm not sure if one is getting better, or the other is getting old.

Bro.J. said...

Jamie-Lynn Sigler=Mother?

Anonymous said...

Easily the best episode so far this year, and maybe a top-10 all-timer for HIMYM. The whole thing just had me in stitches. Every time we see Barney at work I'm amused...I'd love to see them explore Barney's company a little more in some future storylines.

And don't mess w/ the pigeons.

Matt said...

One continuity thing that bugged--wasn't it established either last season or in season 2 that Ted's design replaced Bryan Cranston's "penis building" design for a major project and he was a rising star at his firm? Yet this week, Ted's career is flailing.

Also, surprising that they didn't promote Sigler at all in promos.

Hal Incandenza said...

Wow...I'm totally going the other way on this one. The Sven stuff was pretty good (though the bit on the roof with them doing push-ups fell flat, I thought), as was the conference call thing with Marshall, but the Woo plot was cover-your-eyes bad (esp. the rhyming--my God, the rhyming!).

Can't remember when it was--it might've been when the show thought it was necessary for FutureTed to explain what a "woo girl" in the event the entire audience had recently suffered head trauma, or during JLS's 9th or 10th "woo," or when Lily showed up at the bar and was predictably out of place--by I do recall lamenting "my God, this show has fallen hard."

Anonymous said...

Jamie-Lynn Sigler=Mother

I'm so with you on that Bro J! :)

Also, is it me or do the men (well Ted and Barney) get much more opportunities for threesomes ever since they both mentioned they hadn't ever ridden the tricycle?

amitytv said...

Matt, I think in that episode, Ted says something like that was the only time he was a star at work. Plus, I didn't get the impressions that he was failing at work now, just that being able to bring the account in would give him a much needed boost b/c he was still bummed about Stella.
Anyway, I thought "Woo!" was brillant! The Sven vs. Woo must be a man/woman thing b/c I found all the swedish business dull and the woo stuff quite funny. I especially loved Marshall's talk-blocking Robin.
Wish we could see Barney, Marshall, AND Ted at work together. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

Was the leader of the Sven Collective played by NPH? My roommates and I all thought so, but we weren't sure.

Anonymous said...

Most "Wooo girls" eventually end up in the audience at Saturday Night Live.

(I never understood why they "woo" and go nuts when the musical guest would show up in a sketch .. Helloooo! They're ON THE SHOW!!)


Anonymous said...

The Mad Men shout-out made me very happy.

I enjoyed the episode, it felt like the old magic was back.

Pamela Jaye said...

and Barney not knowing it was a show.

didn't he recently have a tricycle?

the Woo girls were actually explained? perhaps i've had head trauma myself.

i think Ducky liked the pigeons. and yes, at least one Sven seemed like NPH.

i thought Ted got boss-ish around the time of the penis bldg. he was hiring Lily and all... (i'm up around the Thanksgiving ep)

Adam said...

Barney was, apparently, not part of Sven. And the woo-rhyming this just made me think of the far better attempt at Seussing in Moonlighting, season 3:

Security Officer: I'm sorry, but you're not on the guest list.
David Addison: That's because we're not guests. We're looking for a man with a mole on his nose.
Security Officer: A mole on his nose?
Maddie Hayes: A mole on his nose.
Security Officer: [to Maddie] What kind of clothes?
Maddie Hayes: [to David] What kind of clothes?
David Addison: What kind of clothes do you suppose?
Security Officer: What kind of clothes do I suppose would be worn by a man with a mole on his nose? Who knows?
David Addison: Did I happen to mention, did I bother to disclose, that this man that we're seeking with the mole on his nose? I'm not sure of his clothes or anything else, except he's Chinese, a big clue by itself.
Maddie Hayes: How do you do that?
David Addison: Gotta read a lot of Dr. Seuss.
Security Officer: I'm sorry to say, I'm sad to report, I haven't seen anyone at all of that sort. Not a man who's Chinese with a mole on his nose with some kind of clothes that you can't suppose. So get away from this door and get out of this place, or I'll have to hurt you - put my foot in your face.
Maddie Hayes and David Addison (in unison): Gotta go.

Linda said...

I, too, was somewhat turned off by the lecture from Robin in which she suggested that whenever married people envy the kind of fun single people are having, they should realize that single people would gladly turn it in not to be single.

It's really...not true. It's the kind of thing some married people tell themselves in order to soothe their own feelings when they are, in fact, envying the kind of fun single people are having.

To me, it was a surprisingly false and tin-eared note to have Robin be like, "I have nothing in my life because I'm unemployed and single."

I agree with you that after being able to appreciate that both single people and people in couples can have rich and happy lives, this took a sharp turn toward a smug married-person view of single people.

Nicole said...

I really liked the Swedish collective as well as Marshall's ability to translate Robin's ambiguous talk, but the Woo girls were tiresome at about the third woo. It was only Lily's inability to call the other girls "sluts" that made that segment tolerable.

Having seen Sigler on both this and Entourage, I am still not impressed with her as an actress. She was less whiny than when she was Meadow, but still not very impressive in terms of comedic ability, so I doubt that she will ultimately be the mother. While I didn't want the mother to be Stella, at least Sarah Chalke is a good comedic actress and can pull off the funny when the writers let her be that way.

Hal Incandenza said...

Moonlighting! Great show.

Anonymous said...

I thought that just as last week the "not a father day" guys were particularly absurd and not an indictment on all who choose to be childless, I thought the Woo girls were meant to be a particular type of girl, and not all single girls or partiers. I mean, the issue was going to a place more in line with being in their early 20s than drinking and dancing in general. And this show has given us dozens, probably hundreds, of single people in dozens of settings. Woo girls were established as a subset (one which Barney knew immediately to take advantage of).

KrisMrsBBradley said...

I agree - it wasn't meant to be taken as a comment on all single people, just that sub-set - the "woo" girls. They are single and miserable, therefore they woo.

Anonymous said...

one of the worst episodes of the run...I'm a big HIMYM fan, but the woo girls and the sven plotlines were just over the top as if they were weak SNL skits...it mostly felt forced and much more contrived than usual

this one combined with the one where they hide under the table in the restaurant for most of the episode makes me a little worried for the show

still, its the best sitcom on tv and when its good, its really good

jenmoon said...

It was a pretty good episode, but as a single (non-woo) girl, Robin's little speech to Lily just made me feel all bad and pathetic. "We woo because we have NOTHING! NO BABIES! NOTHING!" Gah, stab me right now. And really, Lily "having her life together" (which obviously translated into, "you're married," because otherwise they're pretty broke and live in a shit apartment)? Easy to do when you meet your future husband at 18, honey. We don't all get that lucky.

I hate it when a fun show brings out my bitter! I am not liking how the show has gone pro-couple...but again, once everyone hits 30, this is how the world goes. Sigh.

Other than that, I...uh, like that building too, Barney. I also was wondering if Barney was also playing one of the Svens (according to the credits, no). And Marshall's hat.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is just me, but I thought the number of times Ted said "Uncle Barney" and "Aunt Robin" was unusually high. Ted usually does not say it more than once.

Jennifer Boudinot said...

I really liked this ep, reinforcing my theory that Sarah Chalke was ruining the show. I find the episodes that take place over a period of time, where something momentous is happening in Ted's life, often seem more meaningful. In any case, I loved the "conference calls" (and the Mad Men shout-out!) and Marshall always being around when Robin wants to hang out with just Robin. And since I hate woo girls, I didn't mind Robin saying they're secretly miserable.

Linda said...

I would accept the "they're only a subset" explanation if the show hadn't made Robin into one, and had her basically say, "Because I don't have a job and am single, I am most comfortable being one of these girls who sit there and envy you." The implication was -- and I realize this is taking the show more seriously than they intend, but to follow the thread -- that even Robin, who's always sort of seemed to have her act together a LOT more than Lily did in many ways, is secretly a Woo girl on the inside as soon as you take away her job.

It really, really rubbed me the wrong way, not because it made me feel bad, but because it made me feel irritated. It's clearly a married person writing about how single people feel, and in that case, not doing a very good job.

Steven Timberman said...

Hold on Alan,

Didn't you think that the Swedish architects were WAY too sitcomy for the show? I know Older Ted embellishes but that was ridiculous.

While I too am a bit miffed at the Pro-Couple message they've been pushing this season it does fit the characters. It makes sense that as our gang matures that more and more of them go over to the land of marriage and children.

Anonymous said...

So are HIMYM single female viewers the new Motrin-hating baby-sling mommies?

Rachel said...

So NPH didn't play a Sven guy? I was positive he was one of them.

This episode was extremely silly. I laughed through a lot of it. But I don't really want to rewatch it. And I normally love rewatching HIMYM episodes...it was just silly.

I guess it's a "being single is cool until you hit thirty and/or overindulge" message. It's okay to drink, but not to act stupid while drinking. But really, I just don't think it was well-developed...must everyone be defined by being in a relationship? Or is that just Ted's framing device?

Pirate Alice said...

As a single unemployed female I totally "got" Robin's explanation of a "Woo Girl" and why she is one. Being unemployed is very depressing, not being able to find a job is depressing. Throw in being single while your best friend is so obviously happily married and each time you try to talk to her, the husband is in your face and in your business... Yeah, you just gotta woo.

Anonymous said...

Not to take this too seriously, but in defense of the Robin speech, I think we also have to consider the possibility that Robin is trying to keep Lilly from feeling bad about not being able to hang with the Woo girls. That's the context, so even though Robin seems fairly sincere, she clearly could be overdoing the "we're all just miserable" thing to pump up her friend who is depressed that she's now a married old person.

And as a married old person myself, I don't harbor any illusion that most singles are secretly living lives of Wooing desperation.

Linda said...

Sure, I don't object to the existence of Woo girls who fit Robin's definition; I object to Robin assuring Lily that all happy-looking single girls are only pretending to be happy. It was the captions, too -- the joke being that a group of happy-looking single women letting off steam in a bar is really just a bunch of miserable girls with empty lives who long to be mothers and fear becoming spinsters. Whether or not the show thinks that, there are plenty of people who do think that, and it felt like a cheap pander to those people. And, as Alan said, a rare lapse of insight into the subtleties of both single and married life.

jana said...

Good grief, people. The whole story is told from Ted's perspective, who is clearly a man who wants to marry and have a family. Anyone not seeking that end must be secretly miserable because he so obviously is.

erin said...

I have to disagree with a lot of the comments here about the woo girls. I'm a 30-year old woman, have my act together, single, good job. The reason I love this show (as many do) is because i think the creators get my generation, more than any other comedy. I thought this week was silly, but in a good way, and I just laughed hysterically at the Sven presentation, but also the woo girls (although I hated the rhyming).

I've been single most of my life, and have seen many of my friends pair off. They might say they love to hear my "crazy" single dating stories, but never have any of them offered to switch places with me. I've been a woo girl, and maybe I'm not as miserable as Robin says they are, but I'd still rather be home on a Friday night with my significant other than think I should be out on a Friday night partying it up for the sake of being social. After a while it gets old (and maybe marriage does to, but I'd say not as much if you married the right person). And I think a lot of women, maybe secretly, would agree. The single life is great, but if you do that forever...at some point the natural inclination is to find your mate, get your career going and get your life in order. At least it is with the girls I know.

But after a so-so season, this just made me laugh out loud. Finally!

Linda said...

I think it's safe to assume some agree secretly, and many don't agree at all. Honestly, I think just as many women are happy being single and feel guilty admitting that they have no particular desire to be wives and mothers as are miserable alone and embarrassed to admit that they crave partnership. I'd just like to see that diversity of opinion and experience respected more than it was on this particular episode, is all.

Unknown said...

Loved Robin and Lily's rationalizations that maybe Jamie-Lynn Sigler's character was just a "cultural woo."

@ erin--I'm 31 and I totally agree with you that the creators of the show really "get" our generation. It's my favorite thing about HIMYM.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Alan, when your review got to the part about Sven and what Barney did to Ted, I really you went the complete opposite way of how I felt about it. Not only was the Sven stuff like out of the most cliched SNL bit from the 80s (Hack City) but the fact that the ridiculous and not particularly funny idea they presented for the building was actually accepted as a real possibility -- had to be the most sitcommy moment I can remember the show doing in a long time (no, wait, they did one recently with that ridiculous hiding under the table bit.)

More so, what Barney did to Ted was TERRIBLE. Not only would it have been a boost to Ted's morale to get the job, and also the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to effect the skyline of Manhattan, it also would've led to his career growing in a huge way. For Barney to deny him that over some bizarre office idea, was beyond crappy. He's a horrible friend and horrible person.

And what comeuppance does he get? Ted was mad at him offscreen but still said it was a great night (even Bob Saget couldn't believe what the script had him saying as was clear from his underwhelmed line reading.) And oh no, poor Barney, he misses out on a threesome (yes, they went to the threesome well once again. What's it been two weeks?) Bo-ring!

And I agree that the idea that single women in their late 20s, early 30s only care for being married and having children is like something out of a different era. Like out of Mad Men actually (the Mad Men joke being the highlight of an otherwise horrific episode.) One of the worst in an already not great season.

Anonymous said...

All I could think about when watching this episode was one thing:

"How I Met Your Mother" has made it to syndication while "30 Rock" struggles to find an audience.

I'm going to go cry now.

Anonymous said...

Not only was the Sven stuff like out of the most cliched SNL bit from the 80s (Hack City) but the fact that the ridiculous and not particularly funny idea they presented for the building was actually accepted as a real possibility -- had to be the most sitcommy moment I can remember the show doing in a long time (no, wait, they did one recently with that ridiculous hiding under the table bit.)

Exactly, spot on.

Yonatan said...

well as a single guy who has no girl friend and whose career is stuck in neutral, I have only one thing to say...


Anonymous said...

I thought Barney's mad dash for the door in pursuit of a gang of woo girls said all that needed to be said about that desperate and damaged species.

Robin's explanation of the whole Woo thing to Lily was redundantly and repetitively explaining what Barney had already illustrated again.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping Marshall would administer a slap to Barney after Ted ran off to get them drinks :-)

I liked the Sven guys dropping down hard to do push-ups, but not much else about them. I loved everything Barney did this ep and don't hold what he did to Ted against him because 1) it was such a Barney thing to do and 2) he was strapped to that bull for hours. Marshall still should have slapped him, though.

I don't think J-LS is the mom because I don't think Ted would be telling his kids that their mom was a desperately unhappy woman willing to show her boobs for drinks. That would make him pretty hateful, IMHO.

I'm more of a John Woo girl.

Anonymous said...

Syndication? HIMYM is eight episodes into its fourth season, with 72 already aired. (That's 22, 22, 20 and 8.)

30 Rock just aired the third ep of its third season -- 39 overall. (21, 15 and 3.) They start late every year, make fewer shows and lost far more ground during the strike. There's just not enough to syndicate it yet, especially if NBC will be re-rerunning season two eps to fill up the looming schedule gaps.

Anonymous said...

I'm an aspiring architect and seeing the whole Sven deal on HIMYM was awesome. I can see how Sven can be a combination of all those architects who are designing ridiculous buildings but is shielded in their "concept," that, most of the time, captures the client more than the design itself. It was an awesome parody of some of the architects/designers out there and was a nice touch into Ted's field.