I both love and hate the Barney and Robin story arc of How I Met Your Mother, just as I both love and hate my own penchant for drama. Waiting for a womanizer to change his behavior and actually love? How could that ever lead to anything but years of longing, disappointment, and excruciating pain? It’s kind of stupid to hope that Barney and Robin will end up together. But on the other hand, I always find myself envying their (albeit, fictional) simultaneous chemistry and best-pallery. Isn’t a certain amount of drama required for partners to really play opposite one another?
I find myself wondering… Is this “Barney” type of guy a mythical creature, like the unicorn or minotaur? Someone who possesses magnetism and playfully manipulative capabilites, but also retains the ability to love genuinely? Someone who, somehow, is able to escape the repulsive conceit that comes along with being able to seduce? Is that nothing but a destructive myth? And if that type of man doesn’t exist, then why are TV and movie writers so obsessed with it? There’s a whole playboy’s redemption trope.
I don’t know. But I think one can say that at least Barney isn’t a true narcissist. Early in Season 1, we see a flashback chronicling his rise from ponytailed-90’s-peacenik to suit-wearing-mastermind, and at its root is unrequited love for a woman; a real narcissist would never be vulnerable enough to have had that kind of history. He also would be too self-involved to notice how amazing Robin is… So maybe the show isn’t glorifying sociopaths, merely flawed people who are still capable of loving.
I guess “capable of loving” is the key phrase. I still remain suspicious of him, though… And suspicious of a show that could further perpetuate myths that we have to debunk in our own lives, i.e., “I know he’s hurt me, but he’s just so darn amusing!” Ugh, barf. I will likely be both wolfing down and throwing popcorn at the TV this fall. But I have hope for the writing of the final season of How I Met Your Mother — mostly because of their at least quasi-realistic portrayal of Barney & Robin’s breakup in season 4’s episode “The Rough Patch.” Maybe they can resolve the issue without sugar-coating.
(Anne Hathway’s new stinky movie, One Day, DOES glorify the whole “redeeming the narcissist” idea: “Why One Day is the most toxic romantic comedy of the year…” http://jezebel.com/5832682/, give it a read.)
What if Barney were to realize this season that he’s actually gay? Ha. No, I think that would be too awesome for a prime-time sitcom. NPH, stop making me fall in love with you — it’s just cruel.