How I Met Your Mother was a long running show that ran for nine seasons. The show follows Ted Mosby as he seeks his one true love in New York City while he tells his children how he met their mother twenty five years in the future in 2030. In the meantime, Ted hangs out with his best friends Barney Stinson, Marshall Eriksen, Lily Aldrin, and Robin Scherbatsky at a local bar as he dates other women, sleeps around, and is overall an insecure single man. After he discovers completes his love story he finally whole and secure as a person. There are many popular shows that portray single people as being anxious in the state of singlehood and unsure of themselves until they date someone and get married do they become confident but How I Met Your Mother is the strongest instance in television. Single people should be aware of how singles are stereotyped in television shows, particularly romantic comedies, and not accept the media’s propaganda that the single life is bad.

How I Met Your Mother depicts the single life inconsistently throughout its nine seasons while stereotyping singles as either players, nerds, or workaholics. Barney Stinson is the successful and confident womanizer who enjoys the single life because he can freely sleep with any women. In contrast, Ted Mosby is the architect nerd who is lonely and unable to enjoy himself despite receiving recognition in New York City for a building that he designed. Ted is miserable as a single person and is only happy when he is a romantic relationship. Robin, similar to Ted, is a successful is pursuing a career in the news and eventually becomes a successful newscaster but she never is fully happy until she gets back together with Ted in the final episode of How I Met Your Mother. The single life and singlehood is a mess in How I Met Your Mother. Time to break it down the components for single men and single women.


For single men, television portrays singles either as being a shallow libertine or a competent boob (what Barney calls Ted a boob once while they are at a strip club). In this way, television sends two contradictory messages about single men. Single men are sophisticated womanizers and are able to get any woman that they want because they are charismatic and know exactly what to say or are pathetic imbeciles. There is no middle ground. Further, How I Met Your Mother characterizes Barney as living a hallow life until he briefly marries Robin where he finds brief fulfillment from his promiscuous life. In contrast, Ted is a boring single architect who does not know his way around women. How I Met Your Mother, through Ted, suggests that single men are incompetent when it comes to talking or dealing with women in real romantic relationships. In addition, with the Ted typecast, single men are unable to balance a work life with a romantic life unless they are casually sleep around with women or find the mysterious “One.”


For single women, the message from How I Met Your Mother through Robin is similar to Ted, but in an ironically opposite way. Robin is always searching for a successful romantic relationship, but her job and dream of becoming a successful newscaster always get in the way of promising potential suitors. The reason why How I Met Your Mother depiction of single women through Robin is ironic is because of mainstream feminism argues that women do not need a man to be happy and can find happiness in their work; yet the How I Met Your Mother sends the contrary message to single women. Robin does not achieve full happiness until she finally gets married to Ted at the end of the show despite becoming a star newscaster in New York City. Television likes the idea of women being strong and independent that mainstream feminism seeks to provide to women in society yet television shows such as How I Met Your Mother are more concerned that single women are ultimately most satisfied with life once they are married and find the “One.”


How I Met Your Mother sends contradictory messages about the single life to both single men and single women. Single men are either extremely successful and skirt-chasers or boring weenie geeks. How I Met Your Mother displays single women as aspiring to find happiness in work and by reaching their way to the top, but are in reality unable to find that happiness until they marry a man. Numerous examples abound in the media from television to movies of single men and single women stereotypes, but How I Met Your Mother is the clearest example from the media and singles should take a stand against the typecasting of single people in the different types of media.

Views expressed in this article are the author’s opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of Secure Single. It is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not investment or financial advice. James Bollen is the author of Thriving Solo: How to Flourish and Live Your Perfect Life (Without A Soulmate). Now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Subscribe to Secure Single’s Substack for free!
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James Bollen is the Founder and President of Secure Single. He is an entrepreneur and a content creator with the goal of helping all different types of singles to learn to thrive as a single person.
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