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Illustration for article titled iHow I Met Your Mother/i: The Naked Man
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Illustration for article titled iHow I Met Your Mother/i: The Naked Man

Has anybody out there tried the Naked Man? It seems like it would take some, uh, cojones to pull it off. How many people can just "ta-da!" their nakedness, even to longtime loved ones? The sheer preposterousness of the Naked Man makes it an excellent metaphor for risk-taking, which is just what Ted needs to do to get back out there after the Stella debacle.

The Naked Man is a last-ditch, Hail-Mary move that a man can use to try to salvage a first date that's not going so well. Why not just strip naked and see what happens? According to Mitch, Robin's very own Naked Man, "two out of three times" the woman is "so charmed by your confidence and bravado" that she sleeps with you. And despite Mitch's lack of obvious attractions — he's not smart, he's not handsome, and there's clearly "nothing going on in this area" — it works!

Now like Marshall, I'm troubled by Robin's easy capitulation to the Naked Man. Why would any one who is not a cough-slut-cough sleep with the Naked Man out of a mixture of amusement and pity? And I'm with Marshall too on the troubling implications of Lily's fifty reasons for having sex. (Number 45: The condoms are about to expire.) Robin goes along with the list, but she also feels the need to defend her one-nighter with Mitchell on more traditional grounds of incipient luuuuuuv. ("There was a combination of specialness and feelings," she argues unconvincingly.) And she goes so far as to call the refreshingly honest Mitchell for a second date to prove her lack of sluttiness. "What's it like managing a CPK?" she asks in an impressive display of brief feigned interest.

The risks Ted and Barney run are much greater. Out on his first date since Stella with Vicki, a girl he's been making eyes at in the elevator at work for days, Ted isn't inclined to bust any crazy moves and jeopardize a possible future. Until Vicki abuses the waiter, laughs at old people falling down, and finally calls Pablo Neruda a turd. "You know who writes good poems? Jewel," she says from offstage, just after the Neruda book caused Ted to hastily reconsider his embrace of the Naked Man. And just like that, he's naked again. Ta-da!

Even though I don't buy the Naked Man or super-slutty Robin or fifty reasons besides love to have sex (Number 48: To reinforce good hygiene), this was a superior episode — well-paced, clever, and with some really snappy character bits for Ted and Barney. Before I started writing about it, I was annoyed that Barney seemed to be at a loss after being thrown out of his date's apartment naked. Come on — this is Barney we're talking about. He's been thrown out of a million apartments, and he'd never be so flustered, even naked. And then I realized that the point of the Naked Man is to make a move outside of your comfort zone. No matter who's getting naked, it's a risk. And one out of three times, as Barney learns to his consternation, it doesn't work. Maybe I buy the Naked Man after all.

Grade: A-

Stray observations:

- How cute was that montage of elevator moments in the cold open? And just when I thought it couldn't get any sweeter, Ted and Vicki both make abortive moves toward the elevator before it dings on the last iteration. I was utterly charmed by the staging, too, with Vicki coming almost from behind the camera position and then retreating as if she had walked into a scene before her cue.

- In other montages: "It's been twelve minutes!"

- My husband believes that the Naked Man might work on me "once — begrudgingly."

- The Naked Man is a game-changer — like the forward pass, the slam dunk, and that haircutting technique where they hold it between their fingers and then snip.

- I'm not easily amused by strategic prop placement to hide genitalia. But I did enjoy Barney's Burt Reynolds, complete with gum!

- Another reason Mitch is not attractive to women: He has five fantasy football teams, and his quarterback just separated his shoulder.

- "Take the seat cushion with you, that's trash now."


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