‘How I Met Your Mother’ seemed a poor man’s choice for ‘Friends’. The loveable and eligible Ted Mosby, the ambitious Robin, the forgettable lovebirds, Lily and Marshall, tried to create the magic of the epic ‘Friends’ but failed miserably. They tried to adopt the same mould, almost running exact parallels between the stories, typecasting their characters, but it did not seem to work. Ross and Rachel could not be recreated even by a small measure by Robin and Ted.
And the biggest failure was Barney Stinson. Though he became very popular with memes and one-liner dialogues like ‘Wait for It’, ‘Legendary!’ or ‘Suit Up’, even coming up with the official bro code, Barney was the arch-enemy of feminism.
Image Credit: TV Series – How I Met Your Mother
They tried to make his womanising tendency endearing, but it came off as very arrogant, his tendency to sleep with as many beautiful women as possible, and then forget about them. His sole mission seemed to have been to objectify women, fulfil his baser urges, and move on to the next target.
It is a wonder how such a misogynistic character could have played for so long. If it has been today, and not a decade ago, there would have been social media campaigns and protests to eliminate him from the show.
One argument could be that it was all meant in jest, and not as a social message. But then, how often have we seen chauvinism and egoism playing out in humour, managing to dent the social fabric nevertheless.
Looking back at the show, it is almost infuriating to see the countless clues to his ingrained misogyny in HIMYM’s nine seasons. And it was made worse because the writers tried to convince the audience that Barney Stinson was actually a victim of his own insecurity. He slept with women rampantly to protect his weak emotional state. That is just blind validation for being a Casanova.
Thankfully, instances like #MeToo and #Time’sUp have brought us to a place where such shallow and meaningless characters will not be tolerated by the audience anymore. Its been 14 years since ‘How I Met Your Mother’, and the show still remains an example of how NOT to treat women.