Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother), Joey Tribbiani (Friends) and Schmidt (New Girl) are undoubtedly three of the most similar male sitcom characters of the last ten years or so. All three at least start their respective series as serious players, they each become enamoured with one member of the regular cast and they all have a weird relationship with inanimate objects (Barney with suits, Joey with food and Schmidt with grooming products). However, stemming from this, they also have significantly different opinions on far-ranging things such as the way to dress to impress, their relationship with food and how they act around their friends.
Obviously Joey was the original ladies man here, first showing up on our screens 11 and 17 years respectively before each of the others, but that doesn’t automatically qualify him as the ultimate, as times have changed and he may have fallen behind. Each of our guys brings his own flavour to the table, although their similarities are often recognised more readily than their all-important differences. Now that How I Met Your Mother is 8 years in and New Girl has been confirmed as returning for a third season, perhaps it is time to separate these characters and treat them as they each deserve.
Read on for a ladies man profile of each before a winner is chosen…
Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)
Originally a hippie “saving himself” for girlfriend Shannon with whom he planned on going volunteering, Barney changed completely when he saw her cheating on him with a “suit”. Shaving off his goatee, upgrading his own wardrobe and landing himself a corporate job, this is when his life turned around and he gained the confidence in himself necessary to become such a charmer with the ladies.
This journey leads Barney to own a truly incredible bachelor pad. With a life sized Stormtrooper, a back-lit porn library, a TV screen filling an entire wall (“It hurts my eyes!” “Yeah, it doesn’t go away”) and space for only one each of essentials such as pillows and towels, Barney set up his perfect place with lots of tweaks designed to push women away. It is even more fitting that we don’t even see his apartment for a good while at the beginning of the series, meaning that we only see these functions of his apartment when he is in a more confusing stage of his ladies man guise.
Barney first revealed to Lily that he loved Robin at the start of season four, paving the way for a long character development in which he struggles to understand such feelings and often battles them by sleeping with other women. The time when he seemingly lost both Robin and Nora was heartbreaking, and led him back to his old pattern of sleeping around as a sort of defence mechanism.
However, the Playbook has to be his biggest argument as such an iconic ladies man, with plays ranging from somewhat understandable to ridiculously impossible, from The Ted Mosby to The Time Traveller. Somehow though, he was the 1 of 3 for whom The Naked Man didn’t work. The fact that he managed to twist the old Playbook concept and use it for The Robin, a stretched out play to entice Robin into marrying him, only goes to show how this will always be a part of him even though he truly loves one woman- see, for example, The Weekend at Barney’s idea that wakes him up once he’s already engaged.
Joey Tribbiani (Friends)
Originally moving in with Chandler as a naïve actor who made the ladies swoon with his edgy leather jacket and smooth line “how you doin’?” Joey Tribbiani more or less maintained the status quo of his relationships over 10 years but he still manages to grow throughout too. Due to his naivety (read stupidity or just plain ignorance?) he usually tried to treat the women that he’d slept with with a bit more respect than Barney, but often insulted them without quite realising how. He also had a longer string of short-term relationships than Barney (who barely touched real relationships until the cases of Robin, Nora and Quinn) including Kathy who cheated on him with Chandler and Charlie who ended up preferring Ross.
However, Joey also has an equivalent crush and relationship with Rachel as Barney does with Robin, although it doesn’t end as well for Joey, leading him back to his string of extras, interns and anyone else who’s up for it. Equally, Joey makes much less effort to impress than Barney, using his aforementioned one chat up line and general charm in place of Barney’s extravagant plays. This is a more respectful approach to picking up women, although Joey does still manage to always seem quite sleazy about it. When Chandler says “You’ve had a lot of sex, right?” Joey’s slightly dumb reaction is “Today? Some… not a lot.” It is useful for the characters of Chandler and Ross that they can always be compared with Joey as sexual failures, although they both ultimately win in the relationship stakes.
There is also the problem that Joey may well love food even more than he loves women, and seems unsure when asked to choose between the two (on the contrary, Ross chooses sex easily but comically becomes torn when dinosaurs are added into the mix). Basically, “JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD!!!” so poor dining etiquette can put him off a woman altogether.
Schmidt (New Girl)
Until around the end of college, Schmidt was severely overweight and absolutely clueless about women other than college girlfriend Elizabeth who called him Big Guy. According to her, when Schmidt lost weight he got mean, and that’s when he gained the confidence to move on from her and become a ladies man (in a similar process to hippie Barney). The main thing that comes from his recent reunion with her is the lack of mention of Elizabeth’s weight- he is attracted to her just as he is seemingly attracted to all types of women, and that’s okay.
The other thing that his newly reinvigorated relationship with Elizabeth shows is the way Schmidt’s bounced back from Cece. They broke up, it was awkward for a while, he spent ages trying to split her and Robbie up and he couldn’t understand her intentions with the arranged marriage with Shivrang, but after all this he hasn’t fallen back on sleeping with random women, instead wanting to find someone who he knows he has an emotional relationship with.
Before getting together with Cece, Schmidt was a huge womaniser, making Nick and Winston jealous with his parade of women in the flat and more natural ease at talking to them than either of them can imagine having. He even owns several rather bulky and scary-looking sex toys that we don’t need to know any more details about, thank you very much. However, Cece was clearly his game changer, and they may still end up together in the vein of Barney and Robin (I bet they will) but even if they don’t he may never be able to return quite so lightly to his previous pattern of sleeping around.
And the winner of ultimate ladies man is…
Barney Stinson! Although all three candidates have had their crazy times and certainly have the right attitude towards women, Barney was the only one with the commitment to create a Playbook whilst still being able to mature at the right pace and get engaged at what seemed to be an appropriate time for him. Joey was more like a child-man stuck at the age of 21 than a ladies man per say and Schmidt had a comparatively small period of time in this lifestyle with the biggest susceptibility to certain women.
Barney certainly went through the craziest period of sleeping with women, with even a revolving bed to get resistant women quickly out of his bedroom, and seems to be struggling with his engagement at the level you may expect from such a lady-obsessed guy. Luckily, he has briefly been able to live some of his fantasies through Ted this season (as weird as that sounds) whilst still being happy with Robin. Let’s hope he can keep this up and make a marriage work, keeping his ladies man days as happy memories for the rest of his life.