If you’re a fan of the CBS TV show How I Met Your Mother, like I am, then you already know all about Barney Stinson. If you’ve not seen the show, let me fill you in on a little background detail. Barney is the loveable chauvinist. He loves women, he loves Star Wars, he loves his friends and he loves his suits, but he loves nothing so much as he loves himself. Of course we all suspect there’s something deeper there than he lets on, but he is ever the showman and usually pretty good at hiding his true emotions. Back when he was in college and dressed like a Hippie, he had his heart broken, and so has since then decided to wear only suits and “be awesome.”
This, the 100th episode, of the sitcom finds Barney trying to woo a new woman to bed – as he does in every episode – but this woman is at the top of Barney’s list. She’s a hot bartender. Unfortunately, her last few boyfriends were Wall Street men who also only wore suits. So, the story finds the hot bartender resolved to never date a suit-man again and Barney struggling between his love of girls and his love of suits.
How then, you might ask, do we find ourselves looking at a book written by Bruno Taut, a late 19th/early 20th century German Expressionist architect and Utopian visionary?
Easy, when Barney decides to give up suits in order to get the hot bartender he dons a t-shirt and pair of jeans. The t-shirt he wears has this book cover on it.
Bruno Taut wrote this book in the mid-1920s (it’s earliest edition seems to date from 1924) to promote a new functional, modern design. Since women were the housekeepers and decorators of the home, he wrote this book to persuade them into accepting the modern interior, by seeing its benefits. Whereas Victorian interiors were full of fabric and dust-collecting knickknacks, modern interiors were simple, sophisticated and easy to clean.
As Barney’s story continues …he succeeds at getting the girl back to his apartment but when she mistakenly walks into his closet thinking it was the bathroom …well, I’ll let you see for yourself what happens next.
The reason I find this all so interesting is because of the clash between the meaning of this book and the philosophy of Barney Stinson. While Barney was doing everything possible to get this girl into bed, he was wearing a t-shirt that suggests women are the creator of the home, and yet when it came right down to it, when this woman suggested he change his home (i.e. throw out all his suits) he wouldn’t do it. OK, this is a bit of a stretch, since she was not suggesting he decorate in a modern style while he firmly held to his belief of a traditional Victorian interior, but I think the irony is still there. The character of Barney Stinson fears nothing more than a woman coming into his life and creating a new look for it.
Also interesting is the writing of Friedrich Nietzsche’s influence on Bruno Taut’s architecture and there is definitely a little Superman complex in Barney.
Whether the writers of my very favorite TV show meant for this irony and debate to come from the t-shirt worn by a character on the show, I would be curious to find out. But, no matter what, I love it a little more with every episode.
And finally, as a sidenote: I love Cindy and her roommate’s apartment! Random, but just thought I’d share. Nothing beats a warm yellow room.