Why Is How I Met Your Mother So Problematic?
“How I Met Your Mother” has provided fans with endless entertainment since the meet-cute sitcom debuted in 2005.
Yet society has come a long way since the show aired, and it’s becoming impossible not to notice how many of the show’s laughs come from putting down groups of people.
Whether they’re a dig at gender, sexual orientation, or weight, the biggest jokes on “How I Met Your Mother” bank on tearing people down.
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Consent isn’t a joke
Let’s talk consent. Most people think consent is as simple as someone saying yes to sexual advances, or even just not saying no. But it’s not that simple.
There are plenty of circumstances, like deceit and inebriation, that eliminate consent — and Barney has taken advantage of almost all these not-so-gray areas.
In fact, Barney has written a bonafide book on how to avoid consent altogether.
If you have to get someone drunk to sleep with them, you don’t have consent. Many of Barney’s one-night stands are black-out drunk when he hooks up with them, a fact that is often orchestrated by him beforehand.
In fact, “The Playbook” lists dozens of scenarios he uses to trick women into sleeping with him.
Ted gaslights every woman he dates
Ted is the kind of person who asks why women don’t want to date a “nice guy” like him, while simultaneously treating them like garbage.
He constantly manipulates women into doing what he wants, then makes them feel like they’re overreacting when they confront him about it.
Take Natalie, the woman he breaks up with on her birthday — twice. That’s a really charming move, right?
Then, he tracks her down three years later and forces himself back into her life with tacky gifts. Of course, he subsequently realizes she didn’t magically become his soulmate during their time apart and breaks up with her. Again. On her birthday.
Ted is absolutely unapologetic about his abhorrent behavior. He tells her it’s not a big deal, and that it’s like she lost the lottery.
Um, it seems kind of like she wins the lottery by avoiding a future with Ted.
Cheating isn’t romantic
You’d expect someone who got left at the altar to show a bit of restraint when reconnecting with an engaged ex, but Ted Mosby isn’t exactly known for his moral compass.
Despite villainizing his ex-fiance’s ex for winning her back the day of his wedding, Ted does the exact same thing with Victoria.
Does anyone need a refresher on why he and Victoria broke up in the first place? Oh, that’s right. Ted cheated on Victoria with Robin.
He even succeeds in getting Victoria to run away from her wedding with him. And what happens next? They break up, again, because Ted can’t stop obsessing over Robin.
The treatment of Quinn
There’s nothing quite like being the local strip club’s biggest patron, while simultaneously judging your girlfriend who works there.
But indeed, Barney tries to get his girlfriend Quinn, who works at The Lust Leopard, to quit. Sure, he’s more than happy to brag about how good she is in bed.
But when it comes down to it, he can’t stand the idea of her dancing for other men.
Meanwhile, the rest of the gang continually tries to break them up purely because they don’t respect her job. Yet they’re totally fine with Barney doing things like dressing as a maid to secretly watch young girls in a school bathroom.
Constant mockery of LGBTQ+ people
Homophobia is rampant, from Ted dressing up as a woman to try and dupe a lesbian into sleeping with him to the constant use of “gay” as an insult.
Transphobia is just as present in the series: Consider the Season 6 episode, “The Exploding Meatball Sub,” in which Ted and Barney discuss a horrid game they call “Who’s hot and who’s Scott.” The premise? Trying to find a transgender woman in a group of models.
Another hideous joke is the reveal that Ted’s biggest fear is finding out his partner is trans.
Given the rate of LGBTQ+ violence in the world, this sort of homophobia and transphobia is especially troubling: TV shows validating and normalizing hateful rhetoric are outright dangerous.
This humor isn’t just problematic — it’s harmful.