How I Met Your Father Tried To Reform Barney Stinson, & It Was Kinda Awk
I'm sorry, was the electroshock therapy really necessary?
How I Met Your Father’s Season 2 midseason finale pulled the trigger on a cameo that was truly legen — wait for it — dary. But although fans knew Barney Stinson was going to show up in the How I Met Your Mother sequel series, his behavior was completely unrecognizable. Neil Patrick Harris had previously expressed his concern over how Barney’s actions would be received today, so the show took a big swing in trying to reform the misogynistic playboy. Parts of it worked, but mainly, it came off as kind of an awkward fix.
Barney’s cameo was first teased in the HIMYF Season 2 premiere, which ended with a time-jump showing Sophie crashing into the back of his car. The March 28 midseason finale showed how that whole scene played out at long last. Barney instantly assumed Sophie was one of the many women he’s wronged in his life and began a lengthy, well-rehearsed apology spiel, calling himself a “recovering serial womanizer.” He also revealed he has a shock therapy device attached to his body that’s programmed to electrocute him if he says any problematic words or phrases.
Yes, the way the series decided to fix Barney’s womanizing behavior was to literally put a shock collar on him.
It seems like this character change was part of the reason Harris agreed to reprising the role. Back when Season 1 was airing, Harris said he didn’t think it would be a good idea to bring Barney back unless he had majorly changed his ways. “As for coming on your show (insert joke here), I worry,” Harris wrote in a conversation with Hilary Duff in his newsletter. “Barney's antics, his overt delusions of grandeur, would likely get everyone in trouble. So, unless he's changed his ways or joined a nunnery (insert an insert joke here), not sure if it's in anyone's best interest.”
While the electroshock therapy stuff may have felt like an over-the-top overcorrection, it was nice for longtime HIMYM fans to see a new side of Barney Stinson later in the scene. After Sophie confessed that she’s conflicted about whether to try to track down her absent father or not, Barney revealed how fatherhood was the catalyst for his major lifestyle change. “The moment I saw her I knew I had to change,” Barney said, holding up a photo of his daughter Ellie.
Barney’s return marks the second main HIMYM character to show up in How I Met Your Father, following Robin Scherbatsky’s appearance in Season 1’s finale. Fortunately, Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, and Alyson Hannigan have all also expressed interest in bringing their characters back for the Hulu show, so it definitely sounds like fans will be seeing the whole MacLaren’s crew again in future episodes.