‘How I Met Your Mother’ – ‘The Mermaid Theory’: Naked came the manatee

Senior Television Writer
12.07.10 64 Comments


A review of last night’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as we spend six hours in frigid international waters…

Not long after “The Mermaid Theory” finished airing, one of my Twitter followers said he looked forward to my review of what he thought was the best episode of the season. And not long after that, another Twitter follower called it one of the show’s worst episodes ever.

That speaks to the obvious idea that taste is a very individual thing, but also to the specific nature of this episode.

“The Mermaid Theory” had all the elements of a classic “HIMYM” episode: a Barney theory about women (complete with silly period flashback and/or present-day costumes), Future Ted as unreliable narrator, a running joke within the gang applying eerily well to an outsider, etc. If I were a TV writer putting together a “HIMYM” spec script, it would probably try to feature all of those elements.

But that’s, unfortunately, what the episode felt like: a bunch of outside observers trying to make an incredible simulation of the show. In point of fact, the episode’s credited writer, Robia Rashid, has been on the show for several years (she wrote “Say Cheese,” one of last season’s stronger episodes), but for whatever reason, the execution here didn’t work. The framework was there, but I’m not sure I laughed even once – and I tend to be a fan of stories where Future Ted inserts himself a little too blatantly, and here his narration of the Lily/Barney subplot was completely off the rails.

I was also bothered throughout the Marshall/Robin story by the way it seemed to be completely ignoring the existence of “Little Minnesota,” an episode that established A)That Marshall and Robin have hung out together in the past (and well after Marshal was married), B)That they had a good time hanging out together, and C)That they have more in common than any other potential pairing within the group. On other show’s, I wouldn’t care as much that they sacrificed continuity for the sake of a joke, but “HIMYM” is all about continuity(*).

(*) I’m sure, for instance, they know exactly when Ted will turn up in that green dress again and why, even if we have to wait until sometime next season, or whenever it is that Lily is that pregnant.

And I’m still not sure what it is that Zoey adds to the show, especially now that her mermaid clock has started ticking and the show is making it clear there will be some sort of romantic awkwardness between the two of them.

Been a very up-and-down season of the show. This was a down episode, even if it had a lot of the pieces to be an up one.

What did everybody else think?

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