For the past couple of years one of my favorite shows on TV has been How I Met Your Mother. I think it’s funny and that the writers have found creative ways to tell their stories. However, it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve really been questioning some of the jokes on the show. I think part of that is because now that the show is on its 8th season, the creators are running out of stories to tell and are resorting more and more to using offensive jokes. But part of it definitely has to do with this class; now that we’ve been talking about how the media represents women, I’ve been paying more attention to what I’ve been watching.
To me, the most offensive and arguably misogynistic character on this show, and possibly on TV in general, is Barney Stinson. What’s irritating about that is I see memes all over the Internet about how “awesome” he is. Yet a good majority of his plot lines have to do with him tricking women into sleeping with him, then going out of his way to never have contact with them again. In reality, this really isn’t so awesome. What’s worse is that the women are many times portrayed as dumb and gullible, in that they easily believe his lies. This only helps to objectify them further.
In the episode I was watching today, the part that bothered me the most was a device Barney has in his apartment that measures a woman’s body mass index. This way, even if a woman is wearing a heavy coat, he can make sure that if she isn’t thin enough, he can kick her out before anything happens between them. And it’s not just Barney’s character that plays a part in negatively representing women. In the same episode, his fiance Robin refers to the past girls he’s been with as “skanks” and “hos,” as if she’s just one of the guys, so it’s okay to refer to other girls this way.
It’s frustrating to see that even though shows like Girls or Parks and Rec are making progress in how women are being represented, the shows that receive more commercial success are the ones that have not made these advances. According to the Nielson ratings, only half the amount of people that are watching How I Met Your Mother are watching 30 Rock or Parks and Rec. What’s even more frustrating is that of the people I’ve talked to about this show, no one has mentioned anything being wrong with Barney’s character or the effects his views about women have on how they’re portrayed within the show and media in general.