The year was 2005. George W. Bush was in his second term, Tom Brady won his third ring, and Ted Mosby’s painstakingly-long story of how [he] met [their] mother had just begun. In a different time, How I Met Your Mother made jokes that wouldn’t necessarily land in 2021’s politically correct and hyper-sensitive society—from fat jokes and cultural appropriation to Barney Stinson’s playbook, the early 00s were the wild west. Piggybacking off the recent announcement that a How I Met Your Mother spin-off, How I Met Your Father , is in the works at Hulu starring Hilary Duff, here are some problematic witticisms from yesteryear.
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How I Met Your Mother Jokes
Ranjit appears onscreen, cue laugh track.
Bangladeshi New York Taxi driver turned limo driver, Ranjit (who doesn’t have a driver’s license by the way), is cheery and lovable. The only problem is that he’s a racist caricature.
The Mermaid Theory
Barney Stinson, the ultimate and perhaps most nefarious womanizer in the history of television. Barney's Mermaid Theory revolved around the idea that no matter how unattractive you initially find a woman, the more time you spend with her, eventually, you’ll want to sleep with her. How I Met Your Mother illustrates this by using sailors who are at sea so long that they start to see manatees as mermaids. Also, a woman automatically becomes a “manatee” again once she becomes pregnant.
In "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment In Slapmarra,” many of the actors dressed up as Chinese people and put on heavy accents to depict Marshall’s training under various Kung Fu masters. At the time, this resulted in the hashtag #HowIMetYourRacism accusing the writers of racism and cultural appropriation.
Barney creates a Hot/Crazy where a woman is "allowed to be crazy as long as she's equally hot."
The Naked Man
An entire episode was devoted to “the naked man” theory, suggesting that any man who strips naked in front of a woman will end up getting laid two out of three times. Trust us, this doesn’t work. On top of the general harassment potential here, in the same episode, the gang calls Robin a “slut” for sleeping with the original naked man.
Barney and His Playbook
The Playbook is Barney’s collection of cams for picking up women and is first seen in the episode "The Playbook." At one point, Robin says: "If these girls are dumb enough to fall for this crap, they have it coming." It’s also worth mentioning that Barney regularly films his encounters with women without them knowing, something that is very very illegal.
Robin Charles Scherbatsky Sr. wanted a son; instead, he had a daughter. So, he raised Robin Jr. as a boy anyway while repeatedly telling her she was a disappointment and just treating her like shit in general.
Self-explanatory. Sex trafficking ain’t it.
Barney Dressing Up Like a Lesbian
In "Everything Must Go," Barney announces “I’ve tried it before, I’ve failed every time. This time I’d gonna do it,” before dressing up as a stereotypical lesbian to finally achieve his goal of having sex with a gay woman.
Is she hot or is she Scott?
A game played by the group to guess who out of a group of women is actually a “tranny”—which is obviously outdated terminology to begin with.