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Gender & Sexuality Portrayal

Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother is known as “A Love Story In Reverse,” but there seems to be a lot of things going wrong with love throughout the season. There exists too many stereotypes that cause audiences to find themselves later anxiously wanting to be like what they see on TV or mimicking what is shown to be considered normal. HIMYM has different kinds of people, the friend who seems to have his life together and proposes to his long-term  girlfriend (Marshall), the friend who goes around having fun and breaking hearts (Barney), and the friend who is in search of love and a happy life (Ted). Everyone goes through different processes in life and everyone wants different things in life; the cliche scenarios are only shown because they make for good plots of shows and keep large quantities of audience entertained. What ever happened to the large quantity of homosexual, transgender, bisexual, etc. population and rise for equal rights of LGBTQ people? Does this show have any thoughts or opinions? In later seasons this issue is somewhat brought up and handled very professionally and positively, but why is it merely mentioned?

In season 1, the topic of gender and sexuality is not completely avoided, but there is a limited and definite lack of portrayal. Unlike with racial and ethnic disparities, gender and sexuality discriminations are rarely shown in background characters throughout the different episodes. The one time in 22 episodes that a homosexual man is seen on the show is in Season 1, Episode 3, “The Sweet Taste of Liberty” where Marshall thinks Lily is flirting with a guy, but truly he is in a relationship with another man.

Screenshot from Netflix, Season 1: Episode 3; 18:26
Screenshot from Netflix, Season 1: Episode 3; 18:26

Instead what seems to be very important for the directors is to continuously show how Robin and Barney are sexual characters. Robin is a sex symbol and seems to have many new boyfriends or dates. In “The Sweet Taste of Liberty” Robin is constantly approached and serenaded by men and in “The Slutty Pumpkin” she has a boyfriend and Ted both falling for her. Barney shows to be a sexual character in the way he acts towards and materializes women and prides himself in using and throwing them away-eventually being known as a womanizer. It is sad to see how Ted and Marshall also participate in Barney’s games at times and women are often degraded. Barney not only disagrees with serious relationships, love, marriage, and a family but he actively acts against all of the shows  ideals by consistently trying to hook-up with every woman he can.

Screenshot from Netflix, Season 1: Episode 5; 11:43
Screenshot from Netflix, Season 1: Episode 5; 11:43

The portrayal of Barney as a character and LGBTQ people within HIMYM as a show are both very odd considering that Neil Patrick Harris (the actor who plays Barney) is outwardly homosexual. He admitted to his sexuality later on in the series of HIMYM, but why is the gay character shown to be a womanizer throughout most of the entirety of the show? Are there any particular reasons why things worked out this way or is there some sort of bias occurring? I believe that the authors and directors envisioned the show as a whole to head in a certain direction and did not anticipate Neil Patrick Harris’s revelation of his personal sexuality; it was something personal to him and not meant to be in the show. It is acceptable for the producers to respect the cast’s personal lives and it seems like the producers in fact are very accepting of LGBTQ people and their rights. A probable reason for limited involvement of the gender and sexuality issues may have been to not disturb audience members with too many liberal, controversial thoughts. Do you have any preference?

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