After watching an episode of the popular series How I Met Your Mother last night, I came across this interesting article, “How I Met Your Mother: StereotypingSociety?”, about gender roles the various characters on the show including, Barney, Ted, Robin, Marshall, and Lily. Firstly, he notes the reversal of gender roles of Ted and Robin. According to the writer, Mayer, Ted is the “hopeless romantic, believes that every girl he meets just might be “the one”.” Ted is portrayed as the guy who is desperate of being alone and wants to have a girlfriend. His character is juxtaposed with Robin’s character. She is portrayed to be independent and is not looking for a long lasting relationship.
Another interesting point that Mayer brings up is about Barney, the only one who wants to remain single out of the group. Barney is considered the “ladies man” of the group. In a Season 7 episode titled, “Trilogy Time,” Barney wishes to continue his lifestyle, sleeping with different women once and then kicking them out. This shows that Barney is only purely seeking sexual relationship rather than one that is more emotion-based. Mayer states that the show suggests that this promiscuous lifestyle is morally wrong and should be condemned.
I thought that this show satirizes traditional gender roles. Women are no longer portrayed as desperate in finding a long lasting relationship. Instead, men can also take on that role. The article also alludes to a double standard that is apparent with the Ted-Robin relationship. Since Ted is desperately searching for a spouse, he is often looked upon as a beloved and likeable character, as it is atypical for a male to behave like him in society. Men are expected not to invest in emotional relationships. However, if Ted’s character was a female’s, then she may be considered as whiny and needy. This discrepancy of varying gender roles, ironically, is what, I think, adds the element of comedy to the series.
Barney, another distinct character, is also part of a double standard that the series sets up. In the show, he is completely opposite of his Ted; he portrayed as a womanizer. Barney even has different strategies for meeting and sleeping with different women. He finds a hard time imagining himself in a monogamous relationship. His outright promiscuity earns him the label as a ‘ladies man.’ However, if his character were to portrayed by a female, she would be ridiculed and even condemned as loose. Similar to Ted’s double standard, Barney’s double standard adds to the humor of the element.
Another point to consider is that Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Barney, is gay in real life, yet plays a womanizer on the show. What are your reactions to this? Do you think that Neil Patrick Harris does a good job portraying Barney?