Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A good argument for the villainy of How I Met Your Mother's Ted Mosby

Illustration for article titled A good argument for the villainy of How I Met Your Mother's Ted Mosby
Screenshot: YouTube

Ah, Ted Mosby, the perpetually romantic protagonist whose pursuit for some version of true love powered nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, right up to one of the most polarizing series conclusions of all time. Don’t worry, we’re not here to further deliberate the already well-dissected ending. However, we do want to direct your attention to a theory that many of us adopted after the first few episodes. It’s simple: Ted Mosby, played by Josh Radnor, is the mooney-eyed, persistently delusional villain of HIMYM. It’s never too late to recap, right?


Well, the good people at The Take seem to think that there’s still plenty of room to analyze Ted’s self absorption, manipulation, and Nice Guy schtick cloaked as a misguided obsession with love—yes, six years after the final episode aired on CBS. Over the span of 23 minutes, the pop culture analysts ask, “What if, instead of being a great guy, Ted is actually a delusional narcissist who only cares about what he wants, no matter who he hurts. What if he’s the bad guy?” Though it may seem hard to believe that anyone outside of Barney, Lily, and Marshall can withstand 208 episodes of Ted’s whining and toxicity and not view him and that ridiculous blue horn as the central problem of his own fairy tale, The Take has amassed more than enough astute observations to sway even the most devoted Ted supporter. The collection of moments reflects more than the occasional miscalculation, but a consistent pattern of behavior propelled by seriously flawed ideology and a complete lack of self-awareness.

There’s plenty of evidence to comb through here, whether it is the number of times he’s placed his own unrealistic expectations over the needs of his partners’, or his penchant for ignoring the romantic ties (read: husbands, in some cases) of his monthly pursuits for the sake of “putting it all on the line.” But it’s his reexamined treatment of Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), close friend and supposed love of his life, that is particularly damning. Ted’s refusal to accept Robin for who she is—a career-driven wanderer who doesn’t prioritize societal ideals of marriage and family—never stops him from repeatedly beating upon the long-dead horse of their failed romance. Whenever he takes advantage of her during her most vulnerable moment, it’s often written off as romantic or kismet. And to make matters worse, he’s essentially rewarded for it at the expense of a thoroughly fridged Cristin Milioti.

But hey, we already promised that we weren’t going to re-litigate the ending. And to be clear: Neither Ted Mosby or an off-putting finale are enough to erase nine years of a show that brought millions of viewers so much joy for so long. The Take agrees, with the caveat that balance in how we process Ted is still key. “Should we feel bad about enjoying the various romantic misadventures of Ted and How I Met Your Mother? Absolutely not,” the video asserts. “But we should be careful to remember that Ted represents a cautionary tale about what happens when delusional fantasies prevent you from being open to connecting with other human beings as they really are.”