Why Neil Patrick Harris Is Just the Worst

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and David Burtka

I don’t spend very much time thinking about celebrities, really. I don’t read People or US Weekly. Even in a waiting room, I’m more likely to pick up a news magazine or, heck, even Better Homes and Gardens, although I need to be clear, neither my home nor my garden is what anyone would describe as “better.” So the only time I look at People is when my alternatives are Sports Illustrated and Field and Stream. Though really, in the years since I got a smartphone, I’m more likely to be looking at that than at a magazine.

Usually the only times I read about celebrities are when they have committed a crime and ended up in the regular news, or they have said something about gay people. When the latter is the case, the rainbow unicorn flashes in the sky like the bat signal, and I need to know what they’re saying. “Gay people on television!” still makes me run for the TiVo remote.

My brushes with fame are few and far between. When I was in college, Audra McDonald and I knocked each other over on the stairs at a studio in New York. She was hurrying down, I was hurrying up, and bam! We both said “excuse me” and she was polite enough to act like it was just as much her fault as it was mine, which is really unlikely, but it was very nice of her to pretend. And now your life has been enriched by that thrilling tale of fame.

It’s worth noting, though, that in all of my blog posts, the one where I yelled at Rupert Everett is the one that has received far and away the most views.

I’ve never really compared my life to depictions of celebrities and found myself wanting, though. I mean, sure, fancy events with interesting people look great, but I’d be just as awkward at an opening night gala as I am at the damned grocery store. Even more so, because I am truly, truly awkward and out of my element at large parties. Heck, last week I introduced myself to one of the dads at Jordan’s summer school because I’d had a nice conversation with his wife (and because I’ve seen him every morning for two years and we still haven’t said hello) and I managed to stumble over good morning pretty spectacularly. And that was just a party of two! You should see what I can do when there are dozens of strangers!

And then along came Neil Patrick Harris.

Before Neil Patrick Harris came out, got a gorgeous and talented partner, and had kids, there weren’t any really widely known models of gay dadhood for people to assume that I would be like. Sure, there are plenty of other gay dads out there, but very few of them are household names, and most of those household names have only become fathers in the last five years or so.

The list of really famous gay dads is still pretty short. It’s basically Ricky Martin, Elton John, and Neil Patrick Harris. Right off the bat, we can eliminate Ricky Martin. Not a single person on this earth has ever, for even a fleeting moment, wondered if my life might be anything like Ricky Martin’s. And I don’t think anyone has ever wondered if there is anyone out there who has a life like Elton John’s. Too ridiculous to contemplate.

But if the only three gay dads you’ve ever heard of are Ricky Martin, Elton John, and Neil Patrick Harris, you might start to wonder if maybe Neil Patrick Harris is kind of, sort of like me.

In the broadest strokes, Neil Patrick Harris and I might seem like vaguely similar sorts of people. We’re about the same age. (He’s five years older than I am, but I look five years older than he does, so I guess that’s a wash!) He’s an actor. I … have acted, and I studied theatre in college, and worked in theatre before I decided to stay at home with the boys. (Spoiler alert: Managing a theatrical box office is not in any way similar to acting.) We have similar body types, I guess, though his would best be described as well-cared for, and mine, well … not. We both have kind of corny, punny senses of humor. (The difference is that when Neil Patrick Harris makes a joke, people laugh, and when I make a joke, people smile, nod, and take a few steps back. The summer I worked at the GAP, my boss told me that customers might find my sense of humor off-putting. That was a big confidence booster!) The primary similarities, though, are that we’re both gay men and we both have two kids.

I have taken my children to playdates, only to witness the palpable, growing disappointment of the other parents when they realize that we are not, in fact, the Harris-Burtka family. (How sweetly their names hyphenate. Now try hyphenating Vigorito-Horowitz with a straight face. Can’t. Be. Done.) They start out excited. Maybe they’ll have new, exciting gay best friends! Then they find out how boring we are and how poorly my children behave. Oh, you thought maybe I’d show you a new place to go antiquing and put on a puppet show while the kids snack on these amazing kale popsicles I made? Sorry, we’re going to sit here and smile awkwardly at each other while my son tantrums because most playdates just have too many transitions for him to handle. Bonus! You can judge my parenting because hugging your kids when they’re upset helps them feel better, and hugging mine when he’s upset just turns a disaster into a catastrophe.

Neil Patrick Harris makes parenting sound amazing, all the time. Just look at this interview he did, where he makes kids spitting up on the carpet sound … cute and refreshing! “They’ll do something that blows your mind and then they’ll spit all their food out on the carpet.” Maybe I’m just doing it wrong, but I have a hard time imagining that he’s ever knelt, crying and trying not to retch, cleaning poopy footprints and handprints out of the carpet when one of his children decided that what was inside their diaper really belonged on the floor. No one who has had to do that ever truly looks happy again. Not that happy.

Also, if we’re being honest, I’m maybe a little jealous. My husband is (not very) secretly in love with Neil Patrick Harris. It started out innocently enough, but then Neil Patrick Harris helped make his dreams come true.


About seven years ago, Austin and one of his friends decided to go watch a taping of The Price Is Right while Bob Barker was still hosting.

“Do you want to come?” he asked.

“Sure, why not?” I said.

“Great, it’ll mean sleeping on the sidewalk outside the studio so we’re at the front of the line! Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

No. No, in fact, sleeping on a sidewalk in LA sounds much closer to my vision of Hell on Earth than it does like fun. So I waved and smiled, and stayed home to take care of the dog. I didn’t know I was sending my husband off into the arms of another man. Neil Patrick Harris, of course. (In case you decided to start reading at this paragraph.)

So Austin and his friend sleep on the sidewalk, and they get to watch a taping of The Price Is Right. Neither of them is picked as a contestant, but they have a great time. And then something ridiculous happens.

An episode of How I Met Your Mother is taping a segment on the set of The Price Is Right. So in addition to being in the audience for a real episode of The Price Is Right, they’re in the fictional audience for Barney Stinson’s appearance on The Price Is Right. And they’re sitting right behind Neil Patrick Harris. They pat him on the shoulders and cheer when he’s chosen as a contestant. (Season Two, Episode Twenty. Whatever.)

He comes home, and there’s a twinkle in his eye when he tells me, “Neil Patrick Harris is even more beautiful in person than he is on tv.”


So if someday Neil Patrick Harris is seeking a new husband, Austin won’t hesitate. And really, who could blame him? I mean, if we’re running the numbers on this, Neil Patrick Harris is the clearly superior choice in literally every way. I don’t think I could even be mad about it.

I liked it better before Neil Patrick Harris was showing us all up all the time.

About Mark

I'm a stay-at-home dad with a husband and two young sons. When I'm not driving the kids to school or camp or swimming lessons or cleaning up bathroom accidents, I try to remember to update my blog.

Posted on August 1, 2013, in Life, Parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 82 Comments.

  1. It’s not just us gay boys who are in awe of NPH. I’ve heard from numerous straight guys whose wives are equally in love with him, and they all thank their lucky stars that he’s gay so he’s not competition for them.

    And let’s be honest: if I were David Burtka I’d be the smuggest motherfucker in the world. “Yeah, that’s right. He’s mine. Hands off.”

  2. Welcome to my world honey…

    Moms have been throwing figurative poop at holier than thou “perfect” celebrity parents FOREVER!! Pop out a baby and then land on the cover of People looking in better shape than ever 4 weeks later with THE MOST ADORABLE smiling baby on the planet on your hip? BITCH!

    I love how utterly normal and mainstream your entire essay sounds 🙂

    • You stumbled upon my not-so-secret goal! 🙂

      • I so agree with your comment Christina – and Mark – I loved reading this post. What it comes down to – the bottom line – ‘all’ parents go through the same things and the feelings of inadequacy is one of them. You keep doing what you do – loving your children and someday, you get to sit back and watch them go through the same thing…..and chuckle:) Humph – yes, I am going to refer to a title of an Elton John song – The Circle of Life!

      • I’m with this group. I was married to the Worst Husband Ever (but now Riley has a fab stepfather) and didn’t have a baby until 31. On Labor Day. Really. Anyway, everyone was all ooooh and aaaaah over my daughter, and she was one of those Baby Liz Taylors, as a friend put it. (Oh, God, NOOOO, thinking about her possible future) So I used to tell Riley, “Pretty is given to you. Smart you have to work for; character, you have to build.” And what the hell is it about the “Post-Baby Shape” of celebs? I would have been ashamed to be able to fit into skinny jeans a month later. i was too busy spending time cleaning up poop and barf!

    • pureaspiration

      So true Christina! Ha!

  3. Great insight!

  4. Love, love, love this. Love your writing. You, Sir, have yourself a new devoted follower!

  5. If it’s any consolation, my ex drank too much at his friend’s memorial in NYC (many years ago) and hit on NPH (who was also a guest) in the men’s room.

  6. I was just cyber-stalking..um.. Googling NPH like any other day and it led me to your blog. I must say- you are Legen-wait for it-Dary!!! You really have a way with words and this has to be one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever read online. Or anywhere, for that matter. I know NPH has a lot of fangirls but you too, sir, have one in me! XOXO

    p.s. I think I’m addicted to your writing because I just read your posts dating back to Aug, 2012 in one go and only stopped when my battery flashed ‘low’.

  7. I couldn’t sleep so I started browsing news stories and fate brought me to your post. I laughed so hard ( even though i covered my mouth with both hands) that I woke up my husband. Needless to say I am a devoted new reader. My daily routine can surely do with more …..gaygeekdad.
    Love ya!

  8. I love your blog!! But you did fail to mention Matt Bomer. Average folks feel bad enough about themselves, then we have to contend with these gods.. I’m a straight woman, and yet looking at him is still like looking into the sun. Keep your husband far away! I look forward to more of your posts!

  9. I read this on Huff Po and loved it!
    Fellow gay (step)dad, husband, gamer, and blogger here. I looke forward to reading more. 🙂

  10. Love this because even as a mom, I’m sure NPH would make me feel guilty because crayon, food, and “is that what I think that is?” has never appeared on his walls. Oh and their home, yeah, I doubt it looks like a bomb exploded at the end of each and everyday. Just hit follow btw. Can’t wait to read more.

  11. I feel like you and I are spirit brothers. Keep up the good fight, dad.

  12. Seriously the best and most entertaining post I have read in a long time. I miss my stepson–my ex and I split up a year and a half ago and our son stayed with him. Reading most things about “gay parents” makes me very sad. Yours, however, made me laugh. I thank you for that.

  13. workitoutlifeservices

    Great writing. Totally relate to the experience. He’s a good actor perhaps NPH has used his art to fool us… or maybe his tuff times as a parent are going to come later. My child was an angel right up to the age of 2months before his Sweet 16. Sweet? Anthing but. Enjoy the poopy everything now. Thats all easy enough to clean up. My kid is 2 months from 29 and he has the world’s pissiest attitude. No one is as perfect as we dream them up to be.

  14. Hi, I am Danyealah and I’m a young writer/blogger/poet. Reading your post made me laugh out-loud more than a few times. I enjoyed your honesty and point of view as a gay dad. A great read!

  15. Funny! I also like how you describe how straight parents get excited about having gay friends, that they’ll teach them something of arts etc, when in fact everyone is just the same:) I like your honesty and just saying how it is. Also how Harris is more relatable than Elton John and Martin, Lol! True.

  16. I find your sense of humor anything but off-putting! The poopy diapers, though…

  17. I love another gay famous person: Andrew Solomon ! He is the most amazing dad, and author:)

  18. My first thought was; What about Matt Bomer? Surely his unnatural beauty makes you feel insecure, because he makes me feel insecure! LOL! I read a similar blog post about another gay dad talking about this very same thing; how the Harris-Burtka’s and their picture perfect life makes them feel as insecure as we women feel about those perfect celeb families and how all the straight families want to be BFF’s with them. I jokingly said that I’m that person who wants to befriend everyone @ playgroup and invite them all to dinner. You can totally join us too.

  19. I daresay given the wit and wisdom with which this is written that the following is NOT true – you seem like a wonderful soul! “So if someday Neil Patrick Harris is seeking a new husband, Austin won’t hesitate. And really, who could blame him? I mean, if we’re running the numbers on this, Neil Patrick Harris is the clearly superior choice in literally every way. I don’t think I could even be mad about it.”

  20. Really entertaining post! But I would like to add that I think of the couple from Modern Family first when I think of a two Dad household. Although fictional…I still like to think they count! 🙂

  21. Though you claim awkwardness, your writing doesn’t follow suit. And now you’re my new best gay friend. Charmingly self-deprecating and funny and good. Yay, you!

  22. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  23. This is HILARIOUS! I love it! I love Neil Patrick Harris, too! And thirdly, I love your writing!

  24. I have never warmed to NPH, nor his husband, who last I checked was talentless. Celebrities love to project this perfect life that the general public eats up without much thought. Look at Gwyneth Paltrow! She’s admired though she has absolutely no respect for middle-class women, the very demographic that her GOOP newsletter targets. I just roll my eyes, and wonder why anyone buys their delusion. Funny post!

  25. Blog is good
    Thank you

  26. I just laughed for about 5 minutes straight. Well done, sir.

  27. This is just the worst, worst for these two young celebrities. They look to false idols; each other. Idol worship is not love, but a false, yes, very pale imitation of the love God offers to us. God made man in His image to care for His garden; then He made woman as his mate. Not another man, but a woman. He blessed these unions thereafter with progeny. God save these young men.

    • Hi, so glad you read my blog! Go rot in hell now, ok? Thanks! Bye!

      • I had to put in my two cents, Mark, because my only prejudice is bigots. Straight girl, mom, ally since age 5 when I found out what was up with Uncle John and Uncle Tony. Mom said, “They don’t have girlfriends, Amy. They love each other.” End of story. You are BRILL.

    • What rock did you just crawl out from under, TeliBS? God loves everyone, and folks who don’t believe in God but who live in love are just as cherished under Creation. Hey, I’m no proselytizing, pain-in-the-ass Christian, but I am married to a pastor, and we have a rainbow flag outside our front door. AND at our church. You are a divisive, exclusionary wonk.

      There, I feel better. Now I’ll put on my apron and baking fucking COOKIES for the church bazaar… no one said, ever to my face!! Ally Amy

    • Therefore, telitru. GOD also says, Do not judge. I am a Christian, but whether this MAN loves his husband the way you love (or more) your husband/wife, is none of YOUR business. Keep your close minded thoughts to yourself. – Awesome blog by the way Mark. Stand up for what you and your husband believe in!

  28. Hysterical! NPH is beyond fabulous, so I understand why your hubby has a crush. Just followed your blog. =)

  29. Great post, well-written and witty. Don’t worry about the Telitru’s of the world, at least it’s one less person looking to you to enlighten them about the arts and reveal the hidden dyanmic of the perfect puppet show! Can’t blame Austin for his NPH crush, he is pretty legend….wait for it…dary! (sorry but someone had to do that)

  30. Now this was funny! I loved reading it and by the end, I totally loved hating Neil Patrick Harris too! Even though it’s pretty hard to do, because he even sneezes Awesome Snot. At least that’s what is on his press packet’s FAQ! Ur a great writer. I’m definitely a new follower who’s sticking around for awhile.

  31. machinegunmama

    I’m probably wrong in saying this…but do celebrities really do THAT much parenting? Sure Angelina and Brad have 8 million kids, but aren’t they out making movies and being beautiful for the public? Which leads me to believe that nannies parent their children. Sure they’re not all like that, but you know they really are.

  32. I love your story and your writing is great! I also love Neil Patrick Harris.

  33. Great post. I feel your pain. I feel that if Sophia Vergara were to walk into our life… my husband would run off with the delicious arepa.

  34. love, love, love this post, super entertaining. Don’t sell yourself short pal, does NPH write this well??

  35. I enjoyed the crap out of your appreciation of Neil Patrick Harris. Yes your writing is great but it makes me envious and that is sinful, isn’t it? Yes, Burtka is gorgeous but not so much as the Groff, about whom I obsess almost constantly. Please put me on your mailing list if possible and please keep writing good (superior) stuff. Irony is the way to go and you really have the knack of it. Blake

  36. Aww.. I love Neil… but I am not a gay man feeling the pressure of comparison. HIMYM is one of my favourite shows.

    You raise such a great point though of the fact that celebrities paint such an unrealistic view of every day moments such as awkward parent moments & make them sound amazing. I’m sure your partner would still choose you if Neil was suddenly asking 😉 The real person wills in the long run. Love your blog too!

  37. Loved this! Fun read! 🙂

  38. I met NPH in New York recently – what a great guy – instant mancrush and I’m straight – Cheers J

  39. wefalllaughing

    Loved this post. It made me smile from start to finish. And for what it’s worth, I think you have a great sense of humor. 🙂

  40. I’m laughing out loud. Sorry.

  41. What a hoot this post is!! I What about a play date with NPH’s kids??

  42. Wonderful, gracious, humorous post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Trying to live up to celebrity parenting is a thankless task, whether gay or straight; I’m reminded of this recent bit in Time on Kim Kardasian as the Mrs. Potato Head of womanhood – http://time.com/2891358/kim-kardashian-boobs-black-tuxedo/ – which made it perfectly clear to me the prize wasn’t worth the effort.

  43. I love this! So. Damn. Much. You have a hilarious, slightly sarcastic, mildly self-deprecating, completely relatable voice that I simply adore and I am a 20-something, perpetually single, childless hetero girl. If I did have children, I would completely make a play date with your children just so we could sit and chat!

  44. This is legit the funniest Fresh Pressed article I’ve ever read. Tears. Keep it up, sir!

  45. pureaspiration

    Loved this! Funny! Too many amusing parts to mention. Great read.

  46. Well you made me laugh and I was not put off :), I too have humor that may make people cringe, but whatever life is too short to care. I love your ” normal” boring life lol. Seriously, I would take boring any day! Love your blog, you’ve got a follower!

  47. This is very interesting and funny, kind of!

  48. Very funny post. Love the part about people hoping to have the perfect gay-couple friends.

  49. Cheer up! I sat next to the fabulous NPH at a Broadway show … couldn’t get over how ordinary he was. Pleasant looking, almost nondescript. Maybe it was a disguise for semi – anonymous theater-going?

  50. Why exactly why is he the worst?

  51. I just found your blog, and I love it!

  52. Hahaha! He’s awsome!!

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