This episode is perfect for NPH fans, since it focuses on Barney’s character and seems so utterly preposterous that it fits him perfectly. It even comes complete with a Doogie Howser reference.
The episode opens with a scene at the bar in which the gang notes that Barney has been acting strangely lately. They come to the conclusion that he’s hiding a girlfriend. When he comes back from the restroom, he makes an awkward departure, confirming his friends’ conclusion. They decide to tail him.
They pile into a cab and follow him out of Manhattan. He arrives at a house. His friends walk in and find him with a much older woman, who is, it turns out, Barney’s mother. He introduces them, and it seems that everything is revealed until a younger blonde woman comes down from upstairs. He introduces her as Betty, his wife. An eight-year-old boy appears on the scene, who is apparently Barney’s son, Tyler.
Barney’s mom goes into the kitchen to make dinner. Barney explains that his “wife” is really an actress that he hired to make his mom think that he was living the kind of life she wanted for him. She had gotten very sick years ago, and he hired her to show up at her hospital bed as his fiance. When his mother expressed a wish that she’d seen grandchildren, she told her she was pregnant. Barney’s mom got better, so “Betty” (real name = Margaret) had to stay, and Barney had to come up with a kid. He accomplished this by “borrowing/babysitting” his neighbor’s baby. Eventually, though, he had to hold auditions for a suitable “son.”He ended up with a kid named Grant, who he’s no longer satisfied with.
Ted and Margaret hit it off, talking theatre. Ted, showing his pretentious side, as he does from time to time, expressed his love of theatre and wish to know how to act. Margaret promises to give him some lessons. Meanwhile, Grant and Robin hit it off, complaining about their respective positions. At the same time, Marshall and Lily are in the kitchen with Ms. Stinson, who goes off into a verbal daydream about her wilder days. Still, she reminds Marshall of his own mother because she cares about Barney so much, so he and Lily go to Barney to tell him to tell her the truth. During this exchange, it comes out that Lily hates Marshall’s mom, and Marshall is hurt.
We sit through a staged, painfully saccharine dinner sequence. We don’t notice that Ted and Margaret have slipped away until Barney’s mom leads the others into the kitchen, where the two are making out. They continue the act. Barney then starts accusing Ted of betraying him. Ted, recalling Margaret’s tips, including improvisation, inventing a backstory, and getting physical, then gets overly into his “part,” firing ludicrous accusations back at Barney and confusing his mother to no end. She leaves, and Lily tells Barney he has to confess to his mom.
Robin and Grant then have a “moment,” then Barney tells his mother the truth. It comes out that Barney’s mom actually hated “Betty” and “Tyler” (or any of Barney’s friends, for that matter), and that she loves him no matter what. Lily and Marshall make up. Lily calls Marshall’s mom (which is actually Ted and Margaret in another cab) to make peace and appease Marshall. And all is right with the world.
Ted: “You know how Barney says never to give a girl a living thing because it reminds them of babies?”
Random woman: “You said that if I slept with you, my son would get the part.”
Barney: “Well, apparently I’m a better actor than your kid. Bring in the eleven o’clocks!”
Barney [Neil Patrick Harris]: “See, it’s like amateur hour over here. Call me crazy, but child actors were way better back in the ’80s.”
Eight-year-old Grant: “Oh, come on. You still look great. I love your nose job.”
Robin: “I never had a nose job.”
Grant: “Right. Me neither.” *winks*
Lily: “Hey, do you wanna go do it in Barney’s childhood bedroom again?”
Barney: On my racecar bed?
Marshall: “Handles great, buddy.”
Marshall: “Lemme get this straight. When you watch The Karate Kid, you don’t root for Daniel-san.”
Ted: “Who do you root for in Die Hard?”
Barney: “Hans Gruber! Charming, international bandit. At the end, he died hard! He’s the title character!”
Lily: “Okay, The Breakfast Club!”
Barney: “The teacher running detention. He’s the only guy in the whole movie wearing a suit.”