For its entire run, How I Met Your Mother has loved pop culture references, from things as mainstream as “Star Wars” and Lost to as obscure as The Robin Byrd Show. But on Monday night’s episode, it may have busted out the most obscure shoutout of all: to “Knuffle Bunny.”
The conceit of the episode- one of the better ones of the final season, I must say- is that Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) has reached a level of drunkenness as such that it functions as truth serum. At one point, he lapses into unintelligible gibberish, and says “argle bargle, wamby flamby, snurp.”
A lot of parents in the audience recognized those words. They come from “Knuffle Bunny,” a popular childrens’ book series by Mo Willems. The first book is the story of a baby named Trixie who has a beloved stuffed bunny named Knuffle Bunny. When Trixie loses the bunny, she does everything she can to let her dad know that she’s missing it- but she can’t, because she can’t talk, hence the “argle bargle” and “snurp.” She then finds the bunny, leading to her first words which are, of course, “Knuffle Bunny!”
Chances are HIMYM creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, or someone else on the writing staff, has young kids and put the reference in as a homage- especially in the episode that also featured a flash forward to the birth of Ted and the Mother’s second child. From a quick check of Twitter, it looks like I’m not the only one who noticed.
The episode also implies that Barney Stinson has slept with two female U.S. secretaries of state- so does that mean Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice and not Madeline Albright, or…?
Anyway, it’s been a big month for “Knuffle Bunny”- it was recently staged as a theatrical musical by the First Stages Theater for Young Audiences in Arizona.