14 Years of How I Met Your Mother: We Need to Talk About Barney

Pop Culture

14 Years of How I Met Your Mother: We Need to Talk About Barney

Illustration: Akshita Monga


efore there was Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime, before the days of YouTube and endless streaming, there was only F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Fourteen years ago, the massiest sitcom India had access to, was a mess of breathless reruns – when along came came a show that could cater to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. loyalists with an added layer of relevance and coolness. How I Met Your Mother combined the ingenuity of sitcoms and its trademark flashbacks and flashforwards to hook audiences for nine seasons – all in service of a one-line plot.

A fresh take on F.R.I.E.N.D.S also needed an update on Joey Tribbiani. Enter Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), part-time friend and full-time catchphrase generator. Barney wore Armani suits, drank “American Scotch from Scotland” (and the occasional gin and tonic), and peddled fake news long before sanghis made it cool. Barney lived by the overtly fetishised “bro code” and instantly metamorphosed into both the show’s most glorified character and its most popular one. The HIMYM writers exalted the idea of Barney’s emotional indifference to an extent that it became sort of aspirational. So many boys who became men, while the show blared on TVs, grew up wanting to be Barney, the man who could get away with his misogyny because he was legen… wait for it… dary!