“Symbolic interaction theory suggests that signifigant others play key roles in helping individuals develop a sense of self (Gamble, 2003)(p.40).”

The television sitcom How I Met Your Mother features a character by the name of Barney Stinson. Barney is a wonderful example of how men can be stereotyped in media. He is the ultimate womanizer (a sign of power and control over relationships or lack thereof) who is only interested in women for superficial and sexual reasons. Barney is the typical bachelor, as well. He plays laser tag, frequents strip clubs, and is a member of an elite cigar club. Barney holds a high paying position as a large Fortune 500 company in New York City (the exact type is never really described in the television show) and has the large office with multiple windows, his wealth very evident in the way he dresses and behaves.

However, Barney hasn’t always behaved this way. In the episode Game Night during season one, the gang finds a video tape that was sent to Barney from one of his ex-girlfriends. The gang teases Barney, puts the tape in and watches it. On the tape, Barney looks like a stereotypical “hippie” as he confesses his love for this girl after she breaks up with him. The story goes that his girlfriend at the time was cheating on him with a “suit”–a man who was all about being successful and getting laid. After Barney was rejected by his first love, he essentially became the same type of guy that she left him for. This is why Barney is obsessed with suits, strippers, and having no committed relationships. Later, he also reveals his softer side when he flies to San Fransisco in order to get his two best friends Lily and Marshall back together–despite the fact that he completely rejects the idea of a committed relationship. The symbolic interaction theory is applicable to this situation because Barney’s emotionally involved relationship with the girl was crushed–which effected him permanently. He mentally compared himself with the man his girlfriend went off with and changed everything he was to fit the mold in order to change the way girls saw him and to fit into the gender expectations that he saw (Gamble, 2003).

Harris, C. (Writer), & Fryman, P. (Director). (2006). Game Night. Bays, C., & Thomas, C. (Producers). How I Met Your Mother. Beverly Hills: Twentieth Century Fox.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.


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