Neil Patrick Harris Choose Your Own Autobiography.
Oh man, how I wanted to love this book. I wanted to love it! I watched Doogie Howser when I was Doogie’s age (basically) and fell in love with NPH then. I’ve never fallen out. (Admittedly, I’ve never seen Harold & Kumar or any of the sequels. I’m selective. But I’ve never not liked him.)
I was a bitter-ender on “How I Met Your Mother” because of NPH. I watched the most boring Academy Awards ever because NPH was hosting. I really, really wanted to like his book. But I just … well, I guess I liked it, but I didn’t love it.
First, the “choose your own adventure” piece: It’s fun at first. I read through three or four different paths before giving up and just reading straight through (skipping the bits I had already read).
The pros: He includes magic tricks that you can perform as you read! And drink recipes (though I need to shop for a few ingredients).
The cons: Has anything bad ever happened to Neil? Like, ever? There’s seriously no darkness at all. Anything that might have been horrifying (like when his husband falls 20 feet from a zip line platform in the middle of the Amazon), turns into just a funny anecdote (he’s OK! because he was high!). Maybe the whole point was to be light, given the “choose your own adventure” format. But I don’t think I learned anything about him except what one could learn from watching some interviews. There’s nothing to hold my interest. No surprises. No feeling that I know him better now.
And the little glimpses you get of who he really is? Kind of ugly, some of them. Like when he & David are choosing an egg donor for their kids. “…there is no denying that a striking number of less-than-striking women are eager to share their genes with the infertile… Since you’re going through all this added trouble to bring one or more bundles of joy into the world, you may as well make an effort to have them at least look presentable.”
Don’t get me wrong… I’ve had friends who have gone the donor route to have kids, and I’ve been privy to some conversations about the surprising things you find out that you care about when choosing a donor. But my other friends were much more witty about it (and much less mean-spirited) than NPH. I remember a lesbian couple who decided that skin tone was super important, because they wanted their kids to tan and not burn at the beach.
And his fucking 40th birthday “party”? Give me a fucking break. Yeah, yeah… “You are so loved.” You also have, like, infinity dollars. And it’s a lot easier to “love” someone (as in, buy them a bunch of expensive trips, stay in the princess castle at Disney, fly all of your friends and family to be together, pay people to do funny things) if you have infinity dollars.
Seth Macfarlane wrote one of the chapters (various famous friends wrote chapters about their memories of NPH), and ended with this: “All of which is to say that you may be charming, funny charismatic, and insanely talented, but you’re really kind of a dick.”
I think he was trying to be funny, but by the time I read that sentence I thought… wow, super honest, Seth! You hit the nail right on the fucking head. And thinking that about NPH makes me really, really sad.