• Gina Denny

Episode 1.9 - Belly Full of Turkey

Updated: Jun 16

There’s actually a HUGE spoiler in this episode, for anyone who has seen the show before. Watch all the way to the end, I’m not going to spell it out here, but if you’ve seen the end of the show, it should jump out at you pretty starkly.


There are two different storylines in this episode: Lily's story, and Barney's story.


We start up with a lot of expository dialog about how everyone is spending thanksgiving, but it’s better than a lot of sitcom dialog, because they have a convo ABOUT what OTHERS are doing, instead of doing a roundtable “what’s everybody doing today???”


Lily is going with Marshall back to Minnesota, and Robin and Ted are planning to volunteer. We covered them as two separate stories.



Back in Minnesota, the forced perspective used to make the Eriksons look enormous is a genius touch. While all the Eriksons are being violent and loud, Lily worries that she's pregnant. I want to praise the pregnancy storyline here: she’s six days late by the time she thinks she’s pregnant. I get SO ANGRY about the pregnancy flaws in stories, and this one isn't the best one I've ever seen, but it is at least believable.


A couple notes about the Eriksons' Thanksgiving meal:

Milk at the Thanksgiving table LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Who’s dad really talks about sperm at the dinner table???

Do they have their turkey stuffed with grapes???


Lily runs away from the dinner table, buys a pregnancy test at a convenience store, and pees on it in the alley, getting arrested in the process.


Cut back to Ted and Robin ... and Barney.


Ted and Robin thinking they can just jump in and serve on Thanksgiving is great; Ted likes to think he’s a good guy, but he has no idea what to do.


Barney is volunteering, and he is volunteer of the year at this soup kitchen. Everyone at the soup kitchen defers to him.


I love how Barney seems like a bad actor in this episode, until you learn that he’s not a bad actor; he’s a liar. He's only volunteering because he has to do community service after being arrested for peeing in an alley.


In the end, Lily and Barney both get arrested for the exact same offense


So, these secondary characters are having their moment in the spotlight. Lily is really the A-story, and Barney is the B-story, Ted is not the star of this episode. Both of the stories have some stuff in common:

  1. They both are placed in settings that they don’t fit; Barney in a volunteer setting, Lily in middle America, away from her cosmopolitan upbringing

  2. They’ve got a couple of naysayers nearby; Barney has Ted and Robin doubting him, Lily has the Erikson clan trying to force her into their mold

  3. They’ve both got an ally; Barney has the jerks at the food bank, Lily has Marshall

  4. In the end, they both stay who they are, though. Barney ends up at a strip club and Lily is not pregnant and happily going back to NYC. This is early in the story, neither of them need to change yet. But now we know what makes these characters uncomfortable. When it comes time for them to change, we know what’s going to hurt and we know how they’re going to be squeezed.

  5. They also both pee in an alley

Writing Prompt: Pick your favorite secondary character, write a short story, or outline a couple scenes for them if you don’t want to commit to the whole story. It needs four things:

  1. They’re in a setting that they don’t fit into

  2. They’ve got a couple of naysayers

  3. They’ve got an ally;

  4. In the end, they stay who they are, But now we know what makes them uncomfortable. When it comes time for them to change, we know what’s going to hurt and we know how they’re going to be squeezed.

  5. BONUS: have them pee in an alley

Listen to the episode here

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