Review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'The Fortress': Adventures in solitude

Robin tries to sell Barney's apartment, while Lily spends too much time on her new job

<p>CBS didn't provide episodic art for last night's &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother,&quot;&nbsp;which means you get the cast in suits again.</p>

CBS didn't provide episodic art for last night's "How I Met Your Mother," which means you get the cast in suits again.

Credit: CBS

A quick review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I'm a cricket player who secretly hates his life...

So here's my question: Was Barney always this disgusting, and we shrugged it off because the writing was better/fresher? Or has he gotten significantly worse over the years, in the way that so many sitcom characters become broader and more exaggerated to keep squeezing jokes out of them? I'd have to go back and rewatch a lot of episodes from seasons 1-3 to feel comfortable weighing in on exactly what's driving this. All I know is that I spent much of "The Fortress" wondering how, exactly, I ever found this side of the character funny. This wasn't Boys Will Be Boys humor; this was straight-up misogyny. And, like so many Robin/Barney stories this season, it became a kind of meta commentary on how the show doesn't want Barney to change, and therefore Robin has to accept him exactly as he is, repulsive or not. Once upon a time, I rooted for this couple to get together; now, I just feel bad that Robin's been turned into someone who puts up with all of this.

The Lily/Marshall/Ted subplot was better, not only because it captured the phenomenon of obsessing over the minutiae of "Downton Abbey," but because it felt like an actual conflict Lily and Marshall might get into now that she's the one with the glamorous job. But even in that subplot, the payoff was Ted becoming more like Barney, and conning a gullible woman into having sex with him. Sigh.

What did everybody else think?

Alan-sepinwall-sm
Alan Sepinwall
Sr. Editor, What's Alan Watching
Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "The Revolution Was Televised," about the last 15 years of TV drama, is for sale at Amazon. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com
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