Episode 1.6 - Slutty Pumpkin
This episode starts basically with a flashback within a flashback. Four years earlier, in 2001, Ted met a girl at a party. She was dressed as a slutty pumpkin and she made a kahlua and root beer drink that she calls a "tootsie roll". Right away, without seeing or meeting this character, we get a sense of who she is. The silly, childish drink combined with the overtly silly and trying-too-hard-sexy costume. It paints a picture right away of who she is.
We also find out that Robin is dating a guy named Mike, which becomes a bigger issue later in the episode.
Marshall and Lily are dressing up as a couple, of course. They're a pirate and his parrot, intent on winning the costume contest at the bar.
Ted shows off his costume - a Hanging Chad. That’s a reference to the 2000 election, which was 11 months prior to Halloween 2001. This ALSO says an awful lot about who Ted is.
And Barney’s costume - the expensive Top Gun Maverick costume, complete with accessories and portable sound system. Such good details that tell us who these people are. Quick, visible cues that tell us a TON about the characters
Marshall and Lily are more interested in their relationship than anything else.
Barney is desperate and vapid.
Ted is pedantic and dorky.
And Robin is too cool for school. She’s more concerned with how other people see her.
We get the sense that Mike wants Robin to be a lot more than she is, and she wants to be even less. Robin can't even put on the "girlfriend costume" for one evening, and they end up breaking up.
Ted gives up on his slutty pumpkin and sits down to be sad and says, “the love of my life isn’t going to just walk through that door dressed as a pumpkin” less than two minutes after Robin just walks through that door, wrapped in a pumpkin-orange pashmina.
Halloween costumes are a really easy way to demonstrate character, and it's something that I think a lot of older shows did pretty poorly. Friends, Frasier, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Office and other shows have done Halloween episodes, but often costumes are in service of the plot, not in service of the characters.
Three characters are each wearing jeans, a shirt, and sneakers. Describe their outfits in such a way that you know who these characters are right away.