7
Feb
2011
How I Met Your Mother: Season 6, Episode 15
Oh Honey
Jordan
I have a theory. I think that the Zoey plotline is being introduced on How I Met Your Mother for a very specific reason, and that reason excites me. Think of it like this: Zoey was introduced on the show in a Ted storyline. After spending a few episodes mostly confined to Ted storylines, Zoey was introduced to the rest of the gang. She then slowly became a part of the gang, becoming friends with everyone while endearing herself to us. In short, I think Zoey is a test run for how the show would react to introducing the mother and continuing to run afterwards.

This makes sense of the fact that Carter and Craig, the show's creators, wrote this episode (they usually confine themselves to masterplot heavy episodes). If "Oh Honey" is a template for how Ted and The Mother eventually get together, I think this show may actually stick the landing. When I first heard that Katy Perry was guest starring (and watched the initial preview for the episode, which reminded me that CBS sells this show completely wrong), I worried this might be the awful episode that breaks the pretty decent streak How I Met Your Mother has been on of late (though I didn't love "Last Words," it was a far cry from some early episodes this season or most of last season which were flat out bad). Fortunately, instead, the show turned in maybe its best episode all season.

What makes a great How I Met Your Mother for you? Is it the gang interplay, which makes use of the cast's always excellent chemistry? If so, there was plenty of that tonight. From some excellent snippets of the gang hanging out with Zoey, which well integrated her into their world, to the excellent phone conversation-structure that allowed for each castmember to shine, this was a strong episode for the ensemble. Jason Segel took center stage, with Marshall feilding phone calls from the gang while taking care of his mother at home in Minnesota. But as he gets calls from everyone, each character is on fine display, and has great interactions with Marshall, which seemed exactly like how they would naturally interact with him. If nothing else, Carter and Craig know their characters.

Robin knows how polite a Minnesotan is, being that she's Canadian, and plays into Marshall's goofiness (allowing for the "Oh Honey" sequence that mostly falls flat but feels like a phone call these two would actually have). Barney wants to turn the events in his favor to appear as awesome as possible (seducing "Honey" while Ted blathers about boring architecture stuff). Lily is hypersexualized and quick to anger. Ted uses Marshall as his ethical sounding bored. And Zoey fits right into all of this surprisingly well.

Are you more a fan of the inventive structure that made the show stand out in its early seasons? This is something the show has failed to execute on in recent years, but was very good at in its early seasons. One of the things that made me love How I Met Your Mother in the early going were episodes like "Game Night," "Lucky Penny," "Arrividerci, Fiero," and "Single Stamina" that used the show's unique structure (a story being told from 20+years in the future) in interesting narrative ways. While this episode doesn't make much sense as a story Ted would tell his kids (seeing as the entire episode is from Marshall's perspective), I won't complain since the episode was done so exceedingly well from a narrative perspective that I'll buy Ted telling it the way Marshall experienced it.

Are you someone who's into How I Met Your Mother because you're a true romantic, and the show's extended rom-com of a premise appeals to you? Then "Oh Honey" is probably the best the show has done at replicating the warmth and joy that comes from a great romantic comedy since Season Four's "Three Days of Snow." One of the worries I have had about the show since Season Three is that The Mother would have to be so shockingly great to top Robin. I was never a Ted-Robin shipper (I loved them together, but found the concept that the show was angling at by ensuring she wasn't The Mother far more original and interesting), but I worried that unless the show spent seasons with The Mother, she wouldnt have been able to top the sense of real romance that came from spending a full season watching Ted and Robin get together, and then a full season together. While I am not as invested in Ted-Zoey as a pre-Mother relationship as I was in Ted- Robin, this is probably the closest they have come since Robin to replicating her, and that does support my optimistic theory that Zoey is a mere test run.

Whatever keeps you coming back to How I Met Your Mother after all these years is featured in "Oh Honey." The group dynamics, inventive structure, and sheer romantic giddiness are all on full display. I have said less, plot-wise about this episode simply because I think its more special than that and wanted to spend the review looking at how well it served everything the show does well. When the episode reaches its romantic crescendo, though, you can't tell me you weren't, at least for a moment, fully on-board the Ted-Zoey train. This show still does everything that originally made it great very well when it wants to. It makes me feel like this is a real group of friends just hilariously hanging out. It uses a more inventive narrative structure than any mainstream sitcom in television history. And it can still nail the romantic moments so well it makes my heart soar (I'm a total softie that way, ok?). For the first time in a long time, I'm pretty convinced that How I Met Your Mother can still be as good as it was back in its prime. And that makes me a very happy man.

Grade: A

Notes:

-Ted forgets a lot of girls names. I guess that's kind of a realistic detail for a man who dated a sitcom's worth of women before finally meeting the girl of his dreams.

-"Actually, there's another reason I didn't go home with her." "He's gay!" "Mom, hang up the phone!"

-Touching fingers is how ted knew he loved Zoey? What is Ted, a middle schooler?

-"I'm up on burners, playa!" I love that Barney's whoring has him behaving like a drug lord. Also, does this count as a reference to The Wire? I'd say no, but the show has done them before...

-"Okay, that's been going on a while." "Only way I know how."

-"We hate Ted now. Get on board or the sexting stops." "TED'S A SON OF A BITCH!"

-"Who's YOUR daddy?" "I DON'T KNOW!"

-"What kind of name is Zoey? Is it short for Zoseph?" That speech in the hallway was so god damn great, even if it did unfold like something that would only happen in a romantic comedy.
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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