You meet someone, you date a while, things get serious, and then suddenly you realize there are secrets to this person who shares your bed, secrets that you’re desperate to discover. It’s a simple enough problem, but the Nov. 20 episode of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother has given it a wickedly funny twist for the YouTube age.
But let’s pretend for a quick second that you’re not completely familiar with How I Met… (and given the show’s average of 9.6 million viewers per week, that may be quite likely). The title kinda explains it all: We watch the journey of aspiring architect Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) as he navigates the dating scene in search of his wife — whom we know he will at some point discover since the show is told in flashback from the future (ergo, the title). Ted’s been dating his current squeeze, aspiring TV journalist Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), on and off since the series’ premiere in 2005, but it’s not until she bizarrely refuses to go to the mall that he and his buddies Marshall (Jason Segel) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) grasp that Robin is holding fast to some deep secret from her past, a secret she won’t even share with Ted, a secret that Barney discovers on that pesky Internet.
”We knew [Robin] was from Canada,” explains Mother co-creator and co-showrunner Craig Thomas, ”and we also [thought] that in 2006, there’s an embarrassing piece of footage for everybody. We stumbled upon the idea that what if [Robin] was Alanis Morissette if Alanis Morissette’s career had ended [during her] Canadian teen pop phase?”
It’s indeed a secret so diabolically perfect, it took just a few hours (and a few beers) for Thomas and the other co-creator and showrunner Carter Bays to crank out ”Let’s Go to the Mall,” the single that transformed Robin at 16 into Canadian pop teen star Robin Sparkles. After getting a behind-the-scenes look last month at the shooting of the incriminating music video, we can report that both the song and the video are so dead-on ’80s bubblegum pre-fab pop, it’s — well, it’s a little scary.
In fact, before we give you an exclusive first look at that video, a word of warning: ”The song has turned out to be much catchier than we were prepared for,” says Thomas, ”but in this very specific way where people are angry at us for writing it.” And if you’re already realizing something not quite adding up math-wise, don’t worry, Robin was supposed to have shot the video back in 1993, since, as Thomas points out, ”the ’80s actually didn’t make it up to Canada until 1993.”