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August 20, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: The Platinum Rule

by Joel Keller, posted Dec 10th 2007 11:43PM
himym
(S03E11)
As a fan of How I Met Your Mother, I bet it's tough for you to explain to non-fans why the show is a bit different from other sitcoms, isn't it? You could tell those non-fans to watch an episode, but if that person runs into a standard-grade, linearly-told episode like some of what we've seen this season, he or she will just shrug their shoulders and go "So what? I have no idea what the big deal is."

So here's a piece of advice to my fellow HIMYM fans: mark this episode as "Save Until I Delete" on the TiVo, sit the next person who asks you about the show down, and show it to them. No, it's not the funniest episode of HIMYM ever. But it is a perfect example of how Bays and Thomas utilize time shifting to tell a story in a way that no one else on TV is doing right now.
I mean, how many sitcoms tell stories using related, four-level flashbacks that tie together both backwards and forwards? None. Bays and Thomas did a great job of showing each phase of Barney's "Platinum Rule" through the experiences of each member of the gang (with Lily and Marshall counting as one member). And as we dove into and back out of the past, segments were connected via common phrases like "God, I'm such an idiot," "That's what I thought," and "Well, I think it'll be OK." In one case, the segments were connected by the person who violated the rule banging his or her head on the table. You'd think it would be hard to keep track of, but somehow, the writers make it easy to follow (and not just via Lily's various hairstyles from 2005 to now).

So the violations of the Platinum Rule: Ted tries to date the doctor who is lasering off his "tramp stamp;" Robin dates "The Ironman," who does sports on her station; Lily and Marshall do the unthinkable and befriend a new neighbor couple; and Barney decides to sleep with Wendy the McLaren's waitress. The last three cases are there to illustrate to Ted what a mistake "pooping where you eat" is.

As we went through each stage, I was trying to pinpoint which story I liked the best. I think it was Robin's. Know why? Because it seemed like kismet: she's Canadian, and he was a former hockey player. She got to meet the left wing on the Vancouver Canucks ("What's the opposite of name-dropping?" Barney asks). But he was a bit clingly -- he actually used the term "weekiversary" -- and when she broke up with him, he did a sportscast by saying "the Knicks lost because they were afraid of getting hurt!"

But who didn't like Barney's "Bar Killer" tryst with Wendy? Especially because his paranoia made it seem like he was suffering from the last phase, Fallout, when he really wasn't. That's my Best Barneyism of the week. In an episode full of Barney goodness, the fact that his very own rule was built on a false sense of dread brought the episode to a nice conclusion. It also made Ted's calling out of all of Barney's rule making just a little less obnoxious.

More fun:
  • As usual, the insults were flying: "How's everyone gonna know you're a stripper from Reno with daddy issues?" Lily mockingly asks Ted after he talks about his tattoo removal.
  • By the way, the eight phases of the Platinum Rule are: Attraction, Bargaining, Submission, Perks, The Tipping Point, Purgatory (or, as Barney calls it, "Purg --- wait for it... keep waiting... keep waiting for all eternity only to discover there's no escape -atory"), Confrontation, and Fallout. Ted makes up a ninth phase, called Co-Existence.
  • It's a sitcom cliche, but couples hanging out is kind of an equivalent of single people dating, isn't it? "Are you going to go antiquing, aren't you? You're going to antique the crap out of them," says Robin in one of her funniest moments of the season.
  • The rule where you don't talk to your neighbors -- and Ted's addendum that you only acknowledge their existence when you haven't seen them in a few days and a strange smell is coming from their apartment -- doesn't only apply to New York City. I've been living in the same apartment here in NJ for a long time, and I still don't know some of my neighbors' names.
  • Robin to the Ironman: "I'm getting a little sick of the charade" Lilly to the Gerards: "We're getting sick of charades."
  • Speaking of charades, when Lily and Marshal were in their Perks phase, Marshal uses charades that they can go across the hall to play charades.
  • Present-day Robin's bustier was quite nice, wasn't it?
  • "Don't kill the bar" is a refrain that everyone should adopt. It just rolls off the tongue.
  • Interesting how Barney's ignorance of the Golden Rule -- he thought it was "love thy neighbor" -- led him to create the Platinum Rule -- "never, ever love thy neighbor."
  • Also interesting how Lily's hair is consistent with when each flashback took place, but Ted's clothes aren't (remember Season One Ted wore a lot of blazers and party shirts).
  • Robin's sympathetic remark to Barney during his Platinum Rule tryst: "Wendy the Waitress-hyphen-Stinson."
  • The Gerards were always there, weren't they? Lily and Marshall were so afraid of coming across them that they'd rather shimmy down the fire escape than let Ted in, only because the Gerards were leaving their apartment at the time. Of course, they somehow ran into them in the alley.
  • Are Lily and Marshall ever going to move into that apartment in Dowisetrepla?
  • I like how, after Barney musses with Ted's hair, Marshall automatically offers Barney a napkin. I guess ten years of living with Ted gave Marshall a good idea of just how much gunk his roomie uses in his hair.
  • At the very end of the episode, Old Ted tells us that the AMA rule kept Young Ted's doctor from dating him "at least for the time being." Hm... interesting. Are we going to hear more from Dr. Stella Zinman once the butterfly disappears for good?

I think this is the last episode of HIMYM that was produced before the strike started. If that's true, at least the show goes on its forced hiatus on a high note. Like I said, save this one on the TiVo and play it for people over the holidays. Hopefully, they'll become converts. At the very least, you'll get to see the episode again, which is a pretty good thing, too.

Which was your favorite Platinum Rule violation?
Ted dating his doctor15 (2.5%)
Robin dating The Ironman117 (19.1%)
Lily and Marshall dating the neighbors116 (19.0%)
Barney dating Wendy the waitress364 (59.5%)

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22 Comments

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AmyD

My favorite this week was Wendy saying, "Wow, interesting use of the beverage gun" and Barney answering, "Club soda gets anything off." HILARIOUS!

December 13 2007 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nattyff

these was my favorite episode of all the season!!!, and in regard of the fans letter that carter and bay put, sound like we were aproaching the mother.... do unfair!!!!, well, i will wait here for the rest of the season no mather how long it takes, these is one of my all time favorite series.

PS: robin and barney are totally doing it!!!!

December 11 2007 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tony

Did you all see this?


LETTER TO THE FANS

Hello HIMYM fans. Motherheads? Howsiers? What are you calling yourselves these days? So first things first, thank you for the incredible support you guys have given us over the years. We mean it. When you create a show, you never think you're doing anything more than telling a funny story. But apparently we've created a community, and it seems to be a community of pretty decent people. It's a community we'd probably want to have a beer with. Our fans seem cool and smart and funny, and it drives us to want to make the show better, to never let it stagnate, to always push ourselves to try something interesting and new. So thank you.

Anyway, we'd like to take a little moment here to come out from behind the desk, cool-11th-grade-english-teacher-style, roll up our sleeves and "rap" at you guys for a bit. We want to talk about the strike. By now you probably know what strike we're talking about, but if you don't, watch this movie: http://youtube.com/watch?v=oJ55Ir2jCxk

What it boils down to is this: Tonight’s episode of “How I Met Your Mother” is the last new one for a while. Starting next week, we grimly trudge off the map and into the desert of reruns and reality TV.

We can’t tell you how difficult this last month and a half has been for us, both personally and professionally. We work with the best people in this business – the best at their jobs, the best at being nice and decent human beings – and the thought of all of them out of work over the holidays is almost too much to bear. We miss them all every day.

That’s by far the suckiest part of the strike – nothing tops that. But there’s other suckiness, such as the suckiness of having to put this story on pause. We love our show. We love the stories we get to tell. And this year on How I Met Your Mother, we think the story is particularly great. A very juicy, breathtaking, funny, and (to use our director Pam's word) yummy story was just starting to unfold as the ax began to fall. We're very excited about the second half of this season, and not bringing it to you right now, factory-direct, sparkling-new, is simply killing us.

But enough with our problems. The reason we’re writing today is to beseech you guys, the fans of this show, to bear with us. The love and support you’ve shown us over the last two and a half seasons has been truly surprising and awesome, and we hope you’ll rejoin us when this whole mess is over with. But for now, this is going to have to be a long distance relationship. We know you’ll get lonely, and Mario Lopez is such a good dancer… but come on, hang in there. Sure, long distance doesn’t ever work for anyone, but we’re different. What we’ve got is special. We can make this work.

But in the meantime, if you want to help us end this strike quickly, please visit www.fans4writers.com. That site explains exactly what the WGA is asking for, exactly why it’s completely reasonable, and exactly how you can show your support.

And just in case the strike goes on so long that the medium of television goes out of business forever and we never get to make another episode, the mother is the coat check girl.

Happy Holidays!

Carter Bays and Craig Thomas

December 11 2007 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phil

Does anyone know the song that played in this episode? It had a "surfy" feel.

Very cool episode, I'm loathing the reality TV heading down the pipe with the forced hiatus.

December 11 2007 at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George

Was that a yellow umbrella I spotted in the doctor's office scene?

December 11 2007 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RC

I could be wrong, but I thought the start of the episode said September 2007 which would put it before Slapsgiving and Lily and Marshall moving out. Did anyone else see that?

December 11 2007 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RC's comment
Ashley Boyd

That was a flashback to the first episode of this season when Ted was Tramp Stamped

December 11 2007 at 2:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
iamhoff

"He's a hockey player. If he was missing any teeth, I'd have probably already hit that!" Classic! Oh please please please solve the damn strike already!

December 11 2007 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Hewitt

I love how Robin is "The Guy" in the relationship. She really is perfect for Barney. Sooner or later ... Sooner or later.

December 11 2007 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tool

Structurally, the time shifting was genius. You never lost track of the levels and the story itself was hilarious.

Great to see a sitcom that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator out there.

December 11 2007 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nathan

I didn't know it was an new episode until the end when Ted made a comment about Barney's "Hot Crazy Chart". Meeve.com didn't say it was new. Anyways great episode, I'm glad they brought the tramp stamp back. It just shows how this shows builds on its self, and how its unique way of telling a story has opened it up to be more than just a half hour new story every week sitcom.

December 11 2007 at 11:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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