Last night’s How I Met Your Mother was a fine example of the risks the show is willing to take for the sake of character growth. We’ve seen the series teeter close to drastic change before, but never quite take a leap as great as the one taken this week. “46 Minutes” not only had two characters taking another big step forward in life, but the series managed to find a way to embrace and even laugh with/at the shift in the dynamic of the series through a few colorful adjustments to the opening theme song.

If you saw last night’s episode (and if you didn’t, but plan to, you might want to stop reading now), then you know that “46 Minutes” marked Lily and Marshall’s official move to Long Island. They’re now residents of East Meadow, NY, which puts them just a couple of miles away from the Islanders’ home (and about ten minutes or so away from my own town of origin). The shift to the suburbs means a big change for the dynamic of the group, and while Ted, Barney and Robin seemed to be anticipating that (they weren’t exactly ignoring Marshall and Lily’s move until now), last night’s episode acknowledged it as the expecting couple moved into their new home, leaving Barney, Robin, Ted and tag-along Kevin to enjoy the night without their friends.

Barney embraced the idea that he’d be leader of the group, and that kicked the episode off with the first of two modified theme songs. Of course, Barney seemed to be enjoying the change a bit more than everyone else...



The rediscovery of Jasmine, Lily’s doppelganger, led to the next version, which had the cigarette smoking Lily look-alike posed in the usual montage of snapshots looking bored and irritated...



Of course, attempts to replace Lily with a foreign stripper only led to disaster, but it was funny regardless. What’s more, I had this sinking fear toward the end of the episode, which also had Marshall and Lily struggling with some new-house issues, that they were going to somehow put the couple back in the city, deciding that they weren’t ready to migrate to the suburbs just yet. But they didn’t. In fact, Marshall and Lily’s friends came to them for some comfort and pancakes after a long, uncomfortable night out in the city.

?So it seems Marshall and Lily are Long Islanders now and the gang is no longer all together. But that doesn’t need to mean the end of the show. It’s a credit to the writers that they’ve decided to push forward with this. I suppose it’s inevitable though. Even if Marshall and Lily chose to stay in the city and raise their baby there for a few years, if not forever, things were going to change anyway. It’s not like they’d be frequenting MacLaren’s enjoying a beer with the gang all that often, if at all, once the baby came. Change is inevitable, but sitcoms don’t always embrace it. In fact, many wait until “the end” to push the characters out of their comfort zone. The fact that HIMYM is not only unafraid to move forward, but also willing to find the humor in its own evolution, is a mark of how good the show is and why it’s still watchable in its seventh season.

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