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24 Times "How I Met Your Mother" Was Really Fucking Problematic

Not so much legendary as hella problematic.

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We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share the moments in How I Met Your Mother that they've found problematic while rewatching in 2018. Here are some of the best responses.

1. The fucked up treatment of women throughout the show.

I love this show but the whole attitude towards women in general really angers me. Barney has absolutely no respect for women, constantly belittles them, lies to them and pits them against one another. The whole "womanising" trope has been over done, but HIMYM took it one step too far – e.g. "I have slept with over 200 women, I have a list." – laurenc4f50a7b74I used to love HIMYM but the general treatment of women is not OK. Everything from the "Naked Man" to the "Cheerleader Effect," and the "Sexless Inn Keeper." Women were continuously objectified by Barney, while Lily and Robin were made out to be evil every time they chose their career over their relationships. – major45522abb8
CBS

I love this show but the whole attitude towards women in general really angers me. Barney has absolutely no respect for women, constantly belittles them, lies to them and pits them against one another. The whole "womanising" trope has been over done, but HIMYM took it one step too far – e.g. "I have slept with over 200 women, I have a list."

laurenc4f50a7b74

I used to love HIMYM but the general treatment of women is not OK. Everything from the "Naked Man" to the "Cheerleader Effect," and the "Sexless Inn Keeper." Women were continuously objectified by Barney, while Lily and Robin were made out to be evil every time they chose their career over their relationships.

major45522abb8

2. Lily and Robin constantly slut-shaming other women.

What really salts my apples is how Robin, and especially Lily, slut-shame all the girls Ted and Barney date. It's just degrading and anti-feminist.– bwitten27
CBS

What really salts my apples is how Robin, and especially Lily, slut-shame all the girls Ted and Barney date. It's just degrading and anti-feminist.

bwitten27

3. Ted making Robin get rid of her dogs because they reminded him of her exes.

When Ted literally makes Robin get rid of HER DOGS! Just because exes gave them to her and he's irrationally jealous doesn't mean he should have had the power to do that.– anyag42bfad82eNot only does Ted tell Robin she has to get rid of her dogs because they are from her exes, but he then lies in order to keep the stuff his exes got him!– jcb3262
CBS

When Ted literally makes Robin get rid of HER DOGS! Just because exes gave them to her and he's irrationally jealous doesn't mean he should have had the power to do that.

anyag42bfad82e

Not only does Ted tell Robin she has to get rid of her dogs because they are from her exes, but he then lies in order to keep the stuff his exes got him!

jcb3262

4. Barney's behaviour bordering on – and sometimes actually being – sexual assault.

You have to take some of it with a grain of salt because it is just a show, but when Barney talks about sleeping with drunk girls and tricking drunk girls into sex, that's the line. If it's not consensual, it's not sex. And if it's not consensual, it's not funny.– JessBrusoThe episode when Barney talks about how he always gets the "yes" from women is just creepy. If a girl says "no," she means no!– abbyk4af9e4f98So many of Barney's actions get a free pass when all his tricks and deceit can in a lot of cases be classed as rape. The show victim-blames and lets him get away with it by saying the girls are all dumb or skanks. – gaynorgeec
CBS

You have to take some of it with a grain of salt because it is just a show, but when Barney talks about sleeping with drunk girls and tricking drunk girls into sex, that's the line. If it's not consensual, it's not sex. And if it's not consensual, it's not funny.

JessBruso

The episode when Barney talks about how he always gets the "yes" from women is just creepy. If a girl says "no," she means no!

abbyk4af9e4f98

So many of Barney's actions get a free pass when all his tricks and deceit can in a lot of cases be classed as rape. The show victim-blames and lets him get away with it by saying the girls are all dumb or skanks.

gaynorgeec

5. The treatment of Patrice.

CBS

The way that Robin treats Patrice and how the show depicts Barney falling in love with Patrice is absolutely ridiculous. She's nice, caring, helpful but she's fat so therefore she's annoying and OBVIOUSLY totally undateable. Because, you know, no thin, hot, self-respecting man would ever be happy and proud to be with Patrice! She's literally the one fat female character (possibly the only fat character, period) and is treated like shit for no reason.

– Kristen Mathisen, Facebook.

6. In fact, the show's treatment of overweight people generally.

CBS
CBS
CBS
When Ted rejected a girl because he found out she used to be fat. So even though she worked really hard and lost weight, she will forever be undesirable? So messed up. The whole programme's attitude to overweight people sucked. – sarahj4194b8800There's an episode where Marshall says something along the lines of "She was so fat you didn't tell your friends about her," while listing different types of girls you can have sex with. I'm overweight and at the time was still dealing with and getting over a guy who turned out to be a fuckboy, but who also never said a word about me to his closest friends. Hearing that line hit a little too close to home. I immediately turned off the show on Netflix and haven’t watched it since.– daniellec4569fa88f
CBS

When Ted rejected a girl because he found out she used to be fat. So even though she worked really hard and lost weight, she will forever be undesirable? So messed up. The whole programme's attitude to overweight people sucked.

sarahj4194b8800

There's an episode where Marshall says something along the lines of "She was so fat you didn't tell your friends about her," while listing different types of girls you can have sex with. I'm overweight and at the time was still dealing with and getting over a guy who turned out to be a fuckboy, but who also never said a word about me to his closest friends. Hearing that line hit a little too close to home. I immediately turned off the show on Netflix and haven’t watched it since.

daniellec4569fa88f

7. The whole Ducky Tie bet debacle.

The bet between Marshall and Barney is hard to watch. Barney has planned for months to see Lily's boobs when she clearly doesn't want to show him anything, and Marshall doesn't do much to stop it happening. And all over a tie? That's creepy.– lulac2
CBS

The bet between Marshall and Barney is hard to watch. Barney has planned for months to see Lily's boobs when she clearly doesn't want to show him anything, and Marshall doesn't do much to stop it happening. And all over a tie? That's creepy.

lulac2

8. Everything about "The Naked Man" episode.

In season five, Robin's co-worker Don invites her to a party in his apartment. She shows up, knocks on his door, and Don says to come in. When she walks in, Don is naked in his apartment alone. He then admits that he lied about the party because he knew that was the only way he could "lure" her over to his apartment. Absolutely disgusting. – anonymous812The Naked Man episode. 100% sexual assault, guys. Not cool.– lilywuzhereIt's like a real-life dick pic. I generally liked HIMYM but that "joke" always bothered me. It's not funny to get naked in front of someone without their consent.– anniea4c02ace89
CBS

In season five, Robin's co-worker Don invites her to a party in his apartment. She shows up, knocks on his door, and Don says to come in. When she walks in, Don is naked in his apartment alone. He then admits that he lied about the party because he knew that was the only way he could "lure" her over to his apartment. Absolutely disgusting.

anonymous812

The Naked Man episode. 100% sexual assault, guys. Not cool.

lilywuzhere

It's like a real-life dick pic. I generally liked HIMYM but that "joke" always bothered me. It's not funny to get naked in front of someone without their consent.

anniea4c02ace89

9. The "Playbook" episode blaming women for being manipulated into sex.

In this episode, Robin says: "If these girls are dumb enough to fall for this crap, they have it coming." As a person who's been manipulated into sex, I took this really, really hard.– r45387a3d3
CBS

In this episode, Robin says: "If these girls are dumb enough to fall for this crap, they have it coming." As a person who's been manipulated into sex, I took this really, really hard.

r45387a3d3

10. The disparity between the male and female character's jobs.

One of the many things that always kinda bugged me was that the three males in the show were respectively an architect, a lawyer and a successful businessman whereas the two women were a somewhat struggling journalist and a kindergarten teacher. At its roots it was never going to be a groundbreaking show. – taylort464636b26
CBS

One of the many things that always kinda bugged me was that the three males in the show were respectively an architect, a lawyer and a successful businessman whereas the two women were a somewhat struggling journalist and a kindergarten teacher. At its roots it was never going to be a groundbreaking show.

taylort464636b26

11. And the sexual double standards between the male and female characters.

CBS
The fact that Robin was slut-shamed for sleeping with The Naked Man but Ted and Barney could get dozens of women and they were alluded to as heroes. – b47d45633e
CBS

The fact that Robin was slut-shamed for sleeping with The Naked Man but Ted and Barney could get dozens of women and they were alluded to as heroes.

b47d45633e

12. Robin getting shit for not wanting kids, and the handling of her infertility diagnosis.

Robin got so much shit for not wanting kids and wanting to focus on her career. But what was especially problematic was the fact that Ted thought he could just "change her mind."– thefifthmarauder5They couldn't just keep it with Robin not wanting to have children – a perfectly valid choice. Instead she goes in for a pregnancy test and is just told she's completely barren, which of course prompts her to realise she does want children after all! Of course, because all women have to! – lindsayb42bb479a4
CBS

Robin got so much shit for not wanting kids and wanting to focus on her career. But what was especially problematic was the fact that Ted thought he could just "change her mind."

thefifthmarauder5

They couldn't just keep it with Robin not wanting to have children – a perfectly valid choice. Instead she goes in for a pregnancy test and is just told she's completely barren, which of course prompts her to realise she does want children after all! Of course, because all women have to!

lindsayb42bb479a4

13. As well as her character arc generally.

CBS
Literally everything Barney does to get Robin to marry him. He lies to her and tricks her into it, and in the end their marriage doesn't even work out. How does Robin go from being this strong independent woman to dating a sleaze-bag like Barney? Totally ruined the character for me.– swakshak
CBS

Literally everything Barney does to get Robin to marry him. He lies to her and tricks her into it, and in the end their marriage doesn't even work out. How does Robin go from being this strong independent woman to dating a sleaze-bag like Barney? Totally ruined the character for me.

swakshak

14. Ted always refusing to take "no" for an answer.

Ted constantly refuses to take "no" for an answer and move on. He does it again and again with women in the series and it's creepy. He almost takes "no" as a challenge and it's constantly portrayed as if it's OK. If you're rejected by someone you just move on. Don't Ted it up.– StephamabobleTed is a whiney stalker and though his actions are meant to be romantic, they're often creepy.– CB3o
CBS

Ted constantly refuses to take "no" for an answer and move on. He does it again and again with women in the series and it's creepy. He almost takes "no" as a challenge and it's constantly portrayed as if it's OK. If you're rejected by someone you just move on. Don't Ted it up.

Stephamaboble

Ted is a whiney stalker and though his actions are meant to be romantic, they're often creepy.

CB3o

15. Robin's relationship with her dad being treated as a joke.

CBS
CBS
How Robin's relationship with her father was never taken seriously. He literally raised her as a boy, told her repeatedly she was a disappointment, left her in the forest alone on her birthday and got married without telling her, amongst other things. Then when she and Barney got engaged, all Barney wanted to do was please her father. He left Robin alone to search for her locket so he could play laser tag with him. He was such an abusive dad to her, but it was always just seen as a joke.– ktellenbarden
CBS

How Robin's relationship with her father was never taken seriously. He literally raised her as a boy, told her repeatedly she was a disappointment, left her in the forest alone on her birthday and got married without telling her, amongst other things. Then when she and Barney got engaged, all Barney wanted to do was please her father. He left Robin alone to search for her locket so he could play laser tag with him. He was such an abusive dad to her, but it was always just seen as a joke.

ktellenbarden

16. The recurring character Ranjit.

CBS

Every single segment involving Ranjit is racist city.

leahallen88

17. And when they dressed up as Chinese characters.

Racial appropriation makes me cringe, Chinese culture is not a costume, and they really missed an opportunity to add some diversity before the show ended. I always skip that episode.– sarab4c6ea245e
CBS

Racial appropriation makes me cringe, Chinese culture is not a costume, and they really missed an opportunity to add some diversity before the show ended. I always skip that episode.

sarab4c6ea245e

18. The transphobic comments.

When Marshall's car was being fixed in the first season, he referred to it as a "she" and then a "he." The gang was confused until Lily made a joke about the car being trans, using the "T" slur.– cristinan43f63efd5 I really hate the scene where Ted imagines the worst possible thing you could find out about your partner that would force you to have to break up with them. His go-to idea is Robin telling him right after their wedding that she used to be a dude. I have to presume this is just because the writers thought the idea of a man unknowingly marrying a trans woman was "hilarious." In fact, there's a lot of casual transphobia in HIMYM, like when they talk about playing "Who's hot and Who's Scott?" with some models – i.e. guessing which one is a trans woman. Different times and all, but trans people are not punchlines!– jeaniweiner
CBS

When Marshall's car was being fixed in the first season, he referred to it as a "she" and then a "he." The gang was confused until Lily made a joke about the car being trans, using the "T" slur.

cristinan43f63efd5

I really hate the scene where Ted imagines the worst possible thing you could find out about your partner that would force you to have to break up with them. His go-to idea is Robin telling him right after their wedding that she used to be a dude. I have to presume this is just because the writers thought the idea of a man unknowingly marrying a trans woman was "hilarious."

In fact, there's a lot of casual transphobia in HIMYM, like when they talk about playing "Who's hot and Who's Scott?" with some models – i.e. guessing which one is a trans woman. Different times and all, but trans people are not punchlines!

jeaniweiner

19. And all of the homophobic comments.

How the men on the show constantly belittle each other for doing or being things that are "girly" or make them look "gay." Like Marshall liking to dance and Ted constantly being called a "girl" because of his choices and interests.– hillerhannah94Ted's rampant homophobia that shows up every chance the writers had.– Adraela
CBS

How the men on the show constantly belittle each other for doing or being things that are "girly" or make them look "gay." Like Marshall liking to dance and Ted constantly being called a "girl" because of his choices and interests.

hillerhannah94

Ted's rampant homophobia that shows up every chance the writers had.

Adraela

20. And the treatment of lesbianism.

It's pretty crazy how often Barney and Ted treat lesbians as something inherently sexual that automatically involves them. They see them as something to be "conquered."– lulac2The moment Barney "dressed up" as a lesbian to pick up a gay woman is problematic as hell.– Morgan Styles, Facebook
CBS

It's pretty crazy how often Barney and Ted treat lesbians as something inherently sexual that automatically involves them. They see them as something to be "conquered."

lulac2

The moment Barney "dressed up" as a lesbian to pick up a gay woman is problematic as hell.

– Morgan Styles, Facebook

21. Robin dating her therapist.

Robin dating her "former" therapist was problematic. They even called it out on the show and let it happen anyway.– shannosaur24
CBS

Robin dating her "former" therapist was problematic. They even called it out on the show and let it happen anyway.

shannosaur24

22. Everything about Barney's "Mermaid Theory."

CBS
This is the theory that a man will eventually want to sleep with any woman after a period of time, no matter how initially repugnant. The theory is so called because sailors (according to Barney) would spend so long at sea that they would eventually come to view manatees as beautiful mermaids. And a mermaid would only become unattractive and turn into a big manatee again by becoming pregnant. Because pregnant women are immediately deemed ugly. Riiiiiight.– lindsayhall5285
CBS

This is the theory that a man will eventually want to sleep with any woman after a period of time, no matter how initially repugnant. The theory is so called because sailors (according to Barney) would spend so long at sea that they would eventually come to view manatees as beautiful mermaids. And a mermaid would only become unattractive and turn into a big manatee again by becoming pregnant. Because pregnant women are immediately deemed ugly. Riiiiiight.

lindsayhall5285

23. The Hot/Crazy scale.

It's sexist, gross and compounds the notion of women as hysterical or mentally unstable as a means of keeping them subordinated. – Kat Smith, Facebook
CBS

It's sexist, gross and compounds the notion of women as hysterical or mentally unstable as a means of keeping them subordinated.

– Kat Smith, Facebook

24. And, finally, the fact that Barney "once sold a woman."

When Barney says: "I'm pretty sure I once sold a woman," but it just gets glossed over like that's OK. It's a comedy and most things Barney says I can look past, but that always gets me.– SGeeThe joke about Barney SELLING A WOMAN. YIKES in all directions. – taylort464636b26
CBS

When Barney says: "I'm pretty sure I once sold a woman," but it just gets glossed over like that's OK. It's a comedy and most things Barney says I can look past, but that always gets me.

SGee

The joke about Barney SELLING A WOMAN. YIKES in all directions.

taylort464636b26

Some submissions have been edited for length/clarity

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