Why It Gets an A-: As I said in the recaplet, I expected to hate this episode. At first, the premise bugs. Ted's faux pas and bad habits aside, Lily and Marshall's reaction to Amanda seems over the top -- nearly irredeemable. But then, that old HIMYM magic kicks in. The premise is subverted, and all the obnoxious behavior fades into the background (which reminds me, Barney is a flavor this week, not the only ingredient -- hurrah). This is my show. These are my people. This is why I watch. We all have inexcusable moments with our friends, but our best friends excuse even those. There are a few things that didn't work (the Natalie tie-in, baking a cake during the party, and I'm sure there's more, but) that, on reflection, made me consider changing my grade to a B+. But, as I've mentioned before, I try to grade sitcoms based on how I feel right after I watch them. They're not built for the same sort of heavy analysis some dramas and sci-fi shows are. They're built to make you laugh in the moment. So with that, I'm leaving my A- as is -- largely because I am so grateful for the break from the Barney Show.
Now, a lot of people seem to be coming down a lot harder on either Ted or Lily than I'm inclined to. Ted lived with Marshall, and then Lily and Marshall for years. Although I do think he should have checked when bringing a date to an intimate event, even though we didn't see any photos along these lines, I have to figure a lot of those get-togethers were in his own home. That's going to change his perspective on what sort of asking/notification is necessary. And for that matter, Robin lives with him, now. I can understand Ted not seeing a big difference between hanging at his place or MacLaren's with the gang, versus going out to dinner elsewhere or to a small party with them. And honestly, although Lily was over the top about her photos, and I would be happy if my birthday went by with nothing, I don't think Lily was a birthday brat. Yes, she loves her birthday, but she wasn't all, "This is my special day," about it. She was delighted by everything Marshall did for her (and Marshall gets way into doing for her) and she made no demands. Her demands regarding photographs seems to extend way past her Birthday Princess tendencies -- since she's just as het up about having outsiders in Christmas, Thanksgiving (see "Slapsgiving"), and other celebration group shots, as she is about her birthday picture.