9×10–11: “Mom and Dad”, “Bedtime Stories”
I feel like every review I write for this show is now turning into some big commentary on life, the universe, and everything, but that can’t really be helped. See, that’s the point of this show: it’s relatable to everyone, no matter where you are in life. Unless you’re in prison, in which case this isn’t relevant to your life at all, and if that’s the case please don’t send me any creepy emails.
Let’s begin with “Mom and Dad”. Barney’s parents are in the same place for the first time since he was six years old, and he couldn’t be more psyched. Unfortunately, the same is also true for his brother James–they both want their mom to get back together with their dad, making them one big happy family, like they were always supposed to be. However, Barney’s dad is married, and James’s dad is a Catholic priest, so what are the boys to do? Needless to say, shenanigans ensue.
Ted’s also warring with the fact that he’s screwing up his job as best man and fighting Billy Zabka every step of the way, but that’s not relevant to this story, so we’re just going to forget about that and focus on the bigger picture here. Barney is desperately trying to gain the family he always wanted, and he goes to some pretty serious lengths to do it, including faking his stepmother’s death and trapping his parents in an elevator with champagne and porny music. We already knew there was something seriously wrong with him; let’s move on.
In “Bedtime Stories”, Marshall is on a bus, trying to get Marvin to fall asleep. He and Lily discovered that rhyming does the trick, so he tells a series of bedtime stories about the time Ted wasn’t sure if he was on a date, the time Robin ate an entire wedding cake and had to get her stomach pumped, and the time Barney encountered the other playboys of New York City and became the king of… banging chicks, I guess?
“Mom and Dad” was an unremarkable episode, as far as storylines go. I’ve seen this plot before in “The Parent Trap” and any number of books and after-school specials. Hell, I lived this storyline when I was a kid. When you go a long time without something, it’s only natural to want it irrationally and wholeheartedly when even the slightest chance presents itself.
Even “Bedtime Stories”, adorable though it was, was light on main story content. It was a great diversion and a really enjoyable episode–really, I found it incredibly charming–but it didn’t add anything to the story of Ted, the Mother, or anything else critically important. Except for at the end, that is. Marshall shares with Marvin that he’s glad his son is too young to remember anything, because he knows a fight is waiting for him when he gets to Farhampton. But this, combined with the last episode, shows something really great and really kind of weird that nobody ever really seems to remember.
Did you know that our parents are people, too?
No, it’s true. Loretta and her exes couldn’t just be pushed together, and Marshall couldn’t just jam a soother in his son’s mouth and wait for him to stop crying. My parents were once my age, and they had the same thoughts and feelings and problems that I have, even if their experiences were probably all grainy and sepia-toned, because they happened back before the world came in colour.
I’m not being sarcastic when I say our parents are people. It’s so easy to forget that, because they’re presented as authority figures that we must listen to at all times. We look up to them as paragons of virtue when we’re younger, and so it makes us stumble when we see that they’re not perfect. Every so often, depending on your relationship with yours, they might let that facade of worldly responsibility and know-how drop, just a little bit, and share the person underneath. But those moments are rare, and so the concept of parenthood seems lofty and a little bit scary, too.
This show has always been about a journey, a transition from young adulthood to regular adulthood with all the cares and responsibilities that go along with that. Getting married, having kids, realizing your place in the world: that’s what this show is about. Growing up. We’ve seen a lot of parents in this show. None of them ever gets it right all the time. They mess up. They meddle. They break things apart. But they always try to fix it, because that, too, is what this show is about: making the best of a bad situation, finding the beauty in it, and realizing that you were always supposed to mess up, because it led you where you were supposed to go.
I don’t know that any of this makes sense in context with parenthood, but it’s just nice to see that common ground between generations. Everyone is just kind of figuring it out as they go along. Some people get it right when they’re young, and others don’t quite get it until they’re a little older and a little wiser.
Just as Marvin did, kids remember that stuff. And yeah, it’s weird to see the mask slip and see the person underneath. But parents are people. They’re only human. And if they’re any kind of decent, they’ll keep trying until they get it right.
“Mom and Dad” Final Grade: B
“Bedtime Stories” Final Grade: A
Items of Note (Mom and Dad):
- The black-and-white Pleasantville thing is super weird, but I dig it. Especially Barney’s beanie and the fact that Robin lives with all of them.
- Seriously, does no one care that James’s dad is a Catholic priest and I’m pretty sure priests aren’t allowed to get married?
- Billy Zabka’s trunk is full of autographed pictures. For some reason that does not surprise me. Neither does the fact that even his mom boos him.
Items of Note (Bedtime Stories):
- Lullaby theme song! So cute.
- Simon, what even is it with you and Louise Marsh. And the Jacuzz.
- Is it a date? Is she a lesbian? Did she date a New York Yankee? Nope, it was Barney in a stupid t-shirt.
- Lily gives the best motivational speeches of all time. And somehow, against all odds, she even makes them rhyme.
- They rhymed for twenty minutes. I admit it: I’m impressed. I’ve always been good at poetry, but I think they’re now the best. If they messed up even once, I don’t think I can recall. But seriously, they rhymed for a whole episode. That takes skill, and that is all.