The Naked Man – Watching Past Shows Through Today’s Lens

It’s not surprising to look back at some of our favorite TV shows and find that not all of their jokes and plot lines have aged gracefully.  Friends, for example, has inspired many a think piece on the running jokes about Fat Monica or Ross’ inability to accept a male nanny as his child’s caregiver.  The show ran for a decade and a lot has changed since its finale in 2004, not to mention its debut over 20 years ago in 1994.  But even more recent shows are not immune to tone deaf story decisions.  Case in point – How I Met Your Mother.

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Premiering in 2005, How I Met Your Mother filled the void left by Friends in many ways.  A group of white twentysomethings living and working in NYC, spending an inordinate amount of time in the bar downstairs instead of a coffee shop, Ted, Marshall, Lily, Barney, and Robin, were Americas new favorite friends for 9 seasons.  The show had its finale just three years ago in 2014, and as a result it’s easy to think of HIMYM as a modern show that should pretty closely reflect our values today.  And yet…

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Back in Season 4 of the show there is a dubious episode entitled “The Naked Man” which originally aired in November of 2008.  In the episode, Robin finds herself on a blind date with a fellow named Mitch.  When she steps out to take a phone call, Ted enters the apartment to find Mitch sitting on their couch naked.  He explains that this is “his move” saying,

“It goes like this: you’re on a first date, you’ve had a few drinks.  You make an excuse to go up to the girls apartment. Then, once she leaves the room, you strip down naked and wait.  When she comes back, she laughs.  She’s so charmed by your confidence and bravado, she sleeps with you.  Boom.  […] The naked man is best used as a last resort.  A hail Mary on a first date when you know there’s not going to be a second.  […] My only shot with a girl like Robin is the element of surprise…and let’s be honest, a little pity.  It’s shock and awwww.”

The episode plays off Mitch’s actions as lighthearted and goofy.  Robin herself describes it as “funny.” To make matters worse, while recounting the encounter later at the bar, Marshall declares Robin is a slut saying that her actions make it seem like the only thing standing between her and sex are clothes. Watching endless loops of the show while falling asleep or getting stuff done around the house, the episode had always made me cringe but in a time where Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. among many others have had their heinous actions laid out in the open for all to see, the episode plays like a horror film with a laugh track – a step by step guide to sexual misconduct. Mitch’s actions are assault, plain and simple.  He doesn’t get Robin’s consent to see him naked.  In fact, he KNOWS she’s not into him and most likely not attracted to him and still makes the decision to expose himself to her.  She’s coerced into sex, slut shamed by one of her closest friends, and then subjects herself to another date with the creep in order to “defend her honor” and prove she’s not a slut.

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On this Stockholm syndrome date, Mitch admits that he knows he’s the only one who had a good time during their “encounter” the night before.  Meanwhile, Ted, Barney, and Lily are all trying the naked man for themselves.  Proving Mitch’s stat that it works 2 out of 3 times, Ted and Lily are successful while only Barney is met with the appropriate “sick son of a bitch” response by his target.  In the end, they all raise a glass to Mitch who they celebrate as a hero.  The episode is almost a decade old but it is shockingly tone deaf in today’s climate.  While some of Friends’ storylines are cringe worthy or un-PC by today’s standards, I can’t recall any as top to bottom ill-advised (at best) as The Naked Man.


Help! I’ve Avalanched Myself!

You know that saying about being your own worst enemy?  I’d like to submit a new version of that called avalanching yourself.  Why haven’t I been blogging in, I don’t know, forever?!  I got myself stuck in an avalanche and unfortunately they haven’t found a way to shrink those adorable St. Bernards with booze barrels and teleport them into brains yet.  I hear they’re close.

C'mon now.

C’mon now.

A little background. I have always been a person of many varied interests.  I majored in political science in college while minoring in theater arts. I almost double majored.  I like science and algebra, words, visual mediums, sports, you name it.  I’m organized and emotional. If you were to dive into my brain you would find lists on lists on lists of the things I want to see, do, and accomplish.  Imagine, if you will then, all of these things piling up in my brain forming a vast library of shit. to. get. done.  And then like magic some free time presents itself and I think… ok brain, here we go, it’s our time to shine…what shall we do?!

Disaster. I think about all the movies I want to see.  All the places I want to go. All the mindless chores and tasks I want to get done. All the books to read and all the blogs I want to write. And boom, I get completely overwhelmed and end up watching Friends on Netflix.  I’ve watched so much Friends at this point that I have taken all the obscure quizzes on Buzzfeed and aced them all.  One was just pictures of Ross and Rachel and based on the screen grab you had to guess why Rachel was mad at Ross. I got a perfect score. It’s bad guys.

It’s an extremely first world problem to be overwhelmed by your free time.  I am well aware, believe me.  But I think, that it may be a fairly common one.  Most people spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week or more, doing something that doesn’t necessarily fulfill them or make them happy per say.  We all have to bring home the bacon one way or another.  On top of that we have certain social obligations – weddings, birthdays, I haven’t seen this person in forever and I can’t say no’s.  These are things that while fun, can often feel more like work when they begin to pile up and you see your free time virtually disappear.  And so, when that elusive you time does pop up it’s a free for all running through the card catalog of your brain in hopes of landing on that ONE thing you want to do.  It’s often way easier after work and social obligations to veg out with something predictable and comforting which for me, is chocolate chip cookies and Chandler’s snarky comments.

I literally never stop laughing at this. Ever.

I literally never stop laughing at this. Ever.

In high school I was a pretty typical overachiever I suppose and I look back at it now and cannot wrap my head around how I did it all – homework, theater, sports, clubs, hanging out in diners and friends’ basements til the sun came up listening to records and talking about our angst.  It was a grueling schedule and now, I work for 8 hours and come home and do nothing. It seems simple to say JUST PICK SOMETHING AND COMMIT.  At least it’s something! And hey, person yelling at their computer screen, you are absolutely right.   And while I’m terrible at that currently, this blog is a nice step. As a matter of fact, I actually watched The Aviator last night instead of mindlessly flipping through Netflix for 15 minutes before putting on, you guessed it, Friends.


You know what they say, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and make a decision once in a while you could gain a lot of weight sitting around yelling Chandler quotes at Netflix like a sad midnight showing of Rocky Horror for one person covered in cookie crumbs…”  That’s right, right?

Do you avalanche yourself? How do you get yourself unstuck?