Episode 1.8 - Duel
This episode, despite having two really, really great moments (the titular duel between Marshall & Ted and Lily finding all her stuff in a Chinese restaurant in Queens) makes NO SENSE.
So our lesson this week is a What Not To Do lesson.
The show opens by telling us that, despite sleeping at Marshall & Ted's apartment every night, Lily still leases an apartment out in Queens.
Okay - so Ted's apartment would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 a month, if it’s just under 1,000 sq ft (which the show runners claim it is, based on their own measurements). According to GlassDoor.com, an architect five years out of school could make somewhere in the mid $70s, taking home something like $5k a month. Marshall is living on student loans, maybe bringing home food stamps or cost-of-living loans, or help from his parents. But Ted is only barely making rent, let alone his dating life or bar tab. Lily is a kindergarten teacher, making in the neighborhood of $50k in NYC, taking home maybe $3,500 a month and renting a studio apartment in Queens, it’s possible she was only paying in the $1,500 range, but that’s still half her income.
This set-up is patently absurd. No way would Lily keep paying $1,500 a month for an apartment she never even goes to (she says in the opening scene that she hasn't even stopped by in over three months).
This episode does give us the phrases, “Future Ted” and “Future Marshall”, though, so that's fun.
Lily nows moves in, with no stuff (since all her stuff was confiscated by the Chinese restaurant that now inhabits the space that was her apartment), but apparently this is enough to freak Ted out completely.
This freak-out leads to Ted and Marshall sword-fighting over who gets the apartment, which is a funny and epic and iconic moment in the show's history.
And the idea that Lily's handshake-agreement-lease gets broken without her knowledge is funny, especially in a place like NYC where rent is bananas and changes happen quickly.
But those two jokes don't make up for the absurdity of the set-up. So that's your writing prompt this week, friends.
Make it make sense. Come up with an opening scene/line/set-up that gives us Ted and Marshall sword-fighting believably and lets Lily discover her stuff in a little Chinese restaurant, especially the mixed tapes Marshall made her for Valentine's Day in college.