You all know that I love How I Met Your Mother. I have my issues with the show, though, and my main annoyance continues to be the metric ton of fat jokes that they’ve put out over the seasons. I covered this in my first in-depth HIMYM post, titled “How I Met Your Mother (And How I Know She Won’t Be Fat)”. So I’m not going to go into all that again, but everything there factors into my current dissatisfaction with season 8, episode 10 “The Over-Correction”.
Here’s what it comes down to: Barney would NEVER date Patrice seriously. NEVER. Beyond that, there is NO possible way that Ted, Lily, and Marshall would have actually believed that he was actually involved with Patrice. Therefore it is ridiculous that they were presented as falling for what is SO OBVIOUSLY a play. It was abundantly clear to fans that Patrice had to be a plot device to get Barney closer to Robin. He might act nice to her, or maybe even like her in a platonic way, but we all know that Barney regards “fatties” as permanent manatees (see S6E11 “The Mermaid Theory”). It is insulting to expect fans to buy this idea, even for one episode, given Barney’s well-documented distate for overweight people.
This Patrice plot would have perhaps been clever, or at least plausible, if not for the show’s history of hating on fat people. Barney’s denigration of fat people is an established character trait that he would not stray from. This episode was contrived to give Robin a chance to doubt his intentions, and seem crazy for doing it, and then the farce continues out until Robin’s jealousy makes her realize her true feelings for Barney. Robin is eventually given an intervention for her involvement in Barney and Patrice’s “relationship”, but she was in the right the whole time.
If Barney really were dating Patrice, seriously, he would want and need an intervention. Don’t believe me? Let’s jump back to just last season, when Barney forces all of his friends to swear a “broath” on the Bro Code (his personal equivalent to the Bible). He makes each of them promise not to interfere with his life, UNLESS:
“It’s an issue of health, national security, or he’s about to get up on a fatty.”
-S7E19 “The Broath”
In “The Over-Correction” it is clear that Ted, Lily, and Marshall are in direct violation of their sworn upon broath to Barney, because they didn’t attempt to interfere with the most heinous of scenarios: Barney hooking up with an overweight woman. The broath that Barney drafted clearly shows that getting “up on a fatty” is on the same level as a potential threat to his health and/or our national security. Hooking up with a fat chick is, to Barney, as taboo as contracting an STD or banging a terrorist. And if he won’t even “get up on” a fatty, can you really imagine him dating – or marrying – one?! The answer is no.
“Over 200 women, spanning six continents, 17 nationalities, 74 sexual positions, and not a single fatty. It’s impressive.”
-Jim Nantz via Barney’s imagination, evaluating his whoring around stats
-S5E102 “The Perfect Week”
“I am Mr. Charity. I frequently sleep with sixes, chubsters, over thirty’s. I am the Bill and Melinda Gates of the sympathy bang.”
-Barney, presumably lying, unless he has changed his standards drastically to allow for such charitable contributions.
-S6E124 “False Positive”
Barney’s abhorrence of fat women is so well-known that those two quotes are presented on some fan sites as contradictory errors in continuity. A later episode prompted even more confusion – season 5, episode 23 “The Wedding Bride”. At the end of this episode, we see a visual representation of the emotional baggage that people carry around with them. Various pieces of luggage were labeled as “MOM STILL DOES LAUNDRY”, “ONLY DATES GUYS IN A BAND”, etc. One hit particularly close to home for me (CUBS FAN) :) Three were labeled “SLEPT WITH BARNEY”; one among those three was carried by an overweight woman.
Fans were seriously thrown by this; how could it be??? The How I Met Your Mother Wiki page listed this scene under the “Goofs and Errors” for the episode:
“In Perfect Week, Jim Nantz claimed, that Barney never slept with a fatty. However in the last scene of this episode, one fat woman in the back carries a baggage called “Slept with Barney” (as some other women in this scene). One possible explanation is that the woman got fat after her encounter with Barney, allowing the statement to remain true.”
The issue was also addressed on the fan site Be Awesome Instead. Comments for the article discussing “The Wedding Bride” episode noted:
Sharone: Hey did anyone else notice how in the end with the ‘luggage’ some fat chicks had ‘slept with barney’ as theirs…i mean it was funny…but did anyone else remember how barney has never, and will never sleep with a fat chick…
…it dissappointed [sic] me…but still a good episode.”
Aaron: “Maybe they are fat now… seeing as girls seems to loose [sic] a lot of self respect after Barney…”
Sharone: “I guess I could believe that, it is quite a stretch[if you saw them]. But at least it’s somthing [sic] to think about… haha thanks.”
Redditors weighed in on this confusion in several different posts:
I always thought Barney said no fatties (Screenshot from the Wedding Bride episode)
submitted 1 year ago by MDevonL
[–]synaesthetist 28 points 1 year ago
Sounds terrible, but maybe he slept with her when she was at a lower weight?
[–]kattrinee 0 points 1 year ago
Barney.. the fattymaker.
[–]maip23 1 point 11 months ago
That’s possible, or it was
*to complete his sex list,
*he was super drunk and forgot
*she borrowed the bag from her hot roommate
[–]BigGreenYamo 5 points 1 year ago
She might have started binge eating after Barney broke her heart.
Must have really let go… (self.HIMYM)
submitted 7 days ago by Akumakei
Was watching some old episodes (Wow, when did I start thinking of season 5 as being ‘old’?) and noticed this in ‘The Wedding Bride.’ I’m pretty sure that earlier in the same season, in ‘The Perfect Week,’ Barney mentions having slept with “no fatties.”
I can’t bring myself to think Barney would lie.
[–]TheSecretExit Farhampton 19 points 7 days ago
Perhaps sleeping with Barney caused her to lose all self-esteem and thereby letting herself go.
[–]wrwight 3 points 7 days ago
But he is the Bill and Melinda Gates of the sympathy bang, including, among others, chubsters. Maybe this was a charity case. I wonder if you can write that off on your taxes..
[–]FromDaHood Self-five! 3 points 7 days ago
My assumption has always been that he slept with her years previously and never talked to her again. Seems pretty plausible considering the character.
[–]ZheK 2 points 7 days ago
He says he never slept with fatties. He might be lying.
[–]NeonCookies 2 points 6 days ago
Could be he slept with her while she was skinny and she has gotten fat since. Or he slept with her in between the two episodes.
[–]Tom_Foolery1993 1 point 5 days ago
Well Barney is a pathological liar. But he wouldn’t lie about some strange would he? Oh but he would. The perfect week, he says he hooked up with some French hairdresser or something but he then reveals it was an Applebee’s waitress or something.
[–]chef2deaf Seriously, don’t sleep on the gouda 2 points 3 days ago
in ‘False Positive’ in season 6 he says “I am Mr. Charity. I frequently sleep with sixes, chubsters, over thirty’s. I am the Bill and Melinda Gates of the sympathy bang.”
The only plausible conclusion that people have reached is of this woman gaining weight after sleeping with Barney. This was analyzed to such a degree precisely because it’s so contrary to Barney’s character.
Some will note that Barney burned the Playbook, and he has obviously changed his views on marriage and long-term relationships. Yes, that’s all true. But those changes took literally years to pan out, and we saw a ton of development leading up to his new perspective on such things. It took human interactions – with Robin, with Nora, with Quinn, and with the rest of the group – for Barney to progress into someone capable of commitment and monogamy.
It was interesting to see Barney adjust his ways for a few episodes in his involvement with Patrice. Even if we knew he’d be taking up with Robin ultimately, the ability to abandon his fixation on the supermodel figure was a welcome exhibition of growth for the character. But no such luck, no such growth — Barney adheres just as vehemently to his adolescent ideals about women and how to trick them into being with him. Unfortunately, Barney isn’t made out to be a villain here: How I Met Your Mother celebrates these elements of the role, rewarding him with a union with Robin that is meant to feel touching and triumphant.
We haven’t seen anything to indicate that Barney has reconsidered his stance regarding overweight women. Patrice could well be a starting step towards that, but she has always been presented as the butt of the joke. I think the scenes with Robin screaming at Patrice are hilarious. Seriously, I have been known to shout “NOBODY ASKED YOU PATRICE!!!” and then collapse into giggles. But those jokes were making fun of her for being naive, for being clingy, for being sweet to an annoying degree. I was comfortable laughing, because those are obviously fictional traits attributed to this character.
This episode, though, was a mockery of her size. They had to find someone who Robin wouldn’t believe Barney would date, and they did it in the most efficient way possible. The only other choices would have to be a really, really ugly girl (which would be a shitty plot in its own right), a senior citizen (but we have to remember that Barney has in fact slept with an old lady), or I guess someone who is super, super into commitment and marriage right away and that’s all she ever talks about.
Let’s be real here – if Patrice were thin and hot, Barney would have already tried to get up on her. She is a beautiful woman, and I think Barney would be able to see that if she were in a smaller package. Her gullible personality is practically begging for Barney to at least try to run a play on her, but it never happens. Why? Because she’s fat, of course. In the world of HIMYM, fat people like Patrice are not worthy of love or sexual interest.
Later, Arbeiter asks:
Why is that out of the question? Why can it only be optioned as a joke or a trick? Why do the people behind How I Met Your Mother have the same attitude on Barney dating Patrice as Barney himself, or his equally shallow friends Ted, Marshall, and Lily? “Of course Barney would never date Patrice,” How I Met Your Mother assures us. “Of course he can only see her as a cog in his process to win the prize that is Robin.” And what’s worse than the show’s insistence on this as the certainty is how unapologetic it is about the ordeal. How little an explanation it seems to feel is warranted for Patrice’s sole purpose as a means to an end.
Patrice is basically the female equivalent of Randy (S3E18 “Rebound Bro”), in terms of personality. They’re both obsessed with their cool co-workers, they’re both awkward and trying too hard to connect with others, and they’re both seemingly immune to direct insults. They are both rebound bros – they are both backup friends. They are the people you only hang out with – the people you use – when there’s absolutely nobody better around, or when you’re tricked into it. Their character similarities are striking, and I really want them to get together. It would be nice to see two underdog characters find love.
My point, though, is that even Randy is presented as a viable sexual prospect for women. Barney puts effort into getting him laid, and Robin considers him as a prospect when she’s feeling especially lonely. Patrice isn’t afforded the same treatment – because no one would believe that anyone on the show would see her as attractive.
It makes me wonder…if Patrice knew how Barney talked about fat people, would she still have wanted to help him? Probably yes. Robin is continuously horrible to her and Patrice is never deterred. But it seems mean to the character and actress to have her pretend to be a legitimate love interest for Barney.
I’ve made my peace with Barney as a fat hater. It’s part of his character, and his humor. I don’t love it, but I at least understand that the jokes are there because they represent an integral part of his personality. It bothers me more when someone like Marshall makes a fat joke, because he’s supposed to be a nice guy. Barney is supposed to be an asshole about these things, but now the writers have added insult to injury.
The only way these fat jokes aren’t a total dick move is if they are essential to Barney’s character. When you try to play it so that Barney is suddenly a-ok with fat chicks, you make all of his past comments even more insulting. Suddenly all those mean fat jokes that were dubbed necessary to his character are just mean fat jokes. If Barney had actually changed, it would be a perfectly acceptable (if distasteful, at least to some) method of showing character development. But Barney isn’t presented as having changed. Barney does not actually like Patrice. He does not actually love Patrice. He is using her, plain and simple.
Yes, Barney has evolved into a nicer, more sympathetic version of himself. But no, he has not evolved to the point where he is suddenly opening his dating pool up to the fatties. We know this for sure, because he immediately returns to making fat jokes in the next episode “Ring Up!” Barney has not changed, the show has not changed, and fat people are still there to be used. So why spend a whole episode pretending that anyone in the group would buy that?
Fuck that. It’s an insult to the characters, to the actors, and to the fans. Trying to make us buy this impossible concept pushes fans to disregard everything they know about Barney up to this point. Everything – EVERYTHING – that Robin says regarding this couple is absolutely true:
Robin: That Barney and Patrice thing is so bogus. He’s clearly trying to get back at me for rejecting him.
Robin: But seriously, what other reason would Barney have to date Patrice?Ted: It’s an over correction.Robin: How dare you! What is that?Ted: Barney was engaged to Quinn, a stripper he never really trusted so he over corrects by dating her opposite, warm and nurturing Patrice.
Robin: Okay. Barney is so not for real about Patrice. Today he did the craziest, most clearly staged for my benefit thing ever.Flashback to Robin’s work:Barney: Hey Patrice, you ready for lunch?Patrice: Sure!Return to presentRobin: Right? Right? I mean, What’s next, birthday gifts? Wake up people, this is not an over correction, it’s fraud, and we need to keep trying to stop this.
Robin: She can’t see that Barney is using her, and it breaks my heart. You know, I love Patrice, we’re like sisters.Ted: You’ve never gotten through even one exchange without screaming at her.Robin: (screaming) Sisters fight Ted! But the bond is always there.
Lily: What are you doing here?Robin: I came to get the Playbook so I could show Patrice who Barney really is.Lily: Why can’t you just let them be happy?Robin: Because they’re not really happy Lily!
Barney: Sometimes you fall for someone you’d never expect but that doesn’t make it wrong. Doesn’t everyone deserve to be happy?Lily: I guess none of us thought of it that way.Barney: Next rounds on me (walks away)Robin: Wow.Lily: I know.Robin: Barney’s lost it, he needs an intervention.Lily: Robin, after everything we’ve seen, do you still think Barney’s faking this?Robin: No, but we have to stop it, Barney is not Barney anymore.Ted: People change.Robin: But not this fast and this drastically. This is a cry for help, okay. If I was out of control I would want you guys to help me. So what do you say, intervention?
It’s unfortunate that How I Met Your Mother, a show that prides itself on being a celebration of love, is so restrictive with not only the achievement but the very pursuit of love. So disingenuous with its attitude on the idea of love. “It can only exist between people who look like this,” the show insists. “Everyone else in our universe is here to make sure those people get their love.” It’s not only Patrice who suffers here. The mentality propagated by this idea, and all of the multitudes of TV shows and movies that uphold the same themes, is dangerous. We can’t be left to forgive Barney and How I Met Your Mother, to subjugate and marginalize Patrice. The fact that we’re asked to do this so cavalierly is frightening. And the fact that many of us comply with this request is horrifying.