Sitcoms are undoubtedly one of the best entertainment genres, with How I Met Your Mother reigning supreme as my all-time favourite show. Despite the extensive list of sitcoms under my belt, none compare to the unparalleled masterpiece accredited to the genius vision of Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. I mean, how could they possibly compare? HIMYM is the ultimate comfort show that has provided me with so much insight into life and all that it has to offer.
My fascination with the idea of a reboot or spinoff has always been palpable throughout all of my rewatches over the years. From How I Met Your Dad featuring Oscar-nominated Greta Gerwig to How I Met Your Father, there had always been whispers about a possible spin-off, but nothing ever came to fruition. It took until last year for the show to finally be picked up and given another chance.
Hulu now streams weekly episodes of How I Met Your Father, created by This is Us & Love, Victor writing duo Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger. The original show’s creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, as well as director Pamela Fryman, who directed every episode except 12 from the series, also serve as executive producers. During the 10 episodes of Hilary Duff’s straight-to-series order, we follow our new hopeless romantic as she searches for true love.
The show follows two different friend groups brought together by a chance encounter in the first episode. The series is centred around Sophie (Hilary Duff), the street photographer in pursuit of true love, her bestie Valentina (Francia Raisa) and Charlie (Tom Ainsley), the British aristocrat Valentina spontaneously brings back from London Fashion Week. The program also stars Christopher Lowell, an Uber driver named Jesse; Suraj Sharma as Sid who happens to be his right-hand man and bar owner (which, unfortunately, isn’t the MacLaren Pub), and Tien Tran as Ellen, Jesse’s adopted sister who moves to the city after her divorce. The final character, Sophie in 2050, is played by the iconic Kim Cattrall, who is telling her son the story about how she met his father.
At the moment, the show has been unfairly disparaged on the internet with scathing reviews. In fairness, I took the same view during my first watch. Having lofty expectations, I became hypercritical and struggled to enjoy the show for what it was. I was plagued by my nostalgia and compared every single aspect of the program. Who’s supposed to be the Barney of the show? Will they include any easter eggs? Am I going to love this as much as the original?
It was then that the realization dawned on me. Nothing will ever hold a candle to HIMYM. Perhaps that’s why the concept of HIMYF has failed so many times. This show was never going to achieve what HIMYM did over nine years, and to expect that from just a few episodes is unreasonable. The original had an incredible sense of humour, nonpareil storytelling and above all, nearly a decade to prove their legacy. Rather than thinking of it as a spinoff or reboot, I had to see the two as separate, albeit mildly related, entities. Only then would HIMYF stand a fair chance. That’s when I decided to watch the pilot again and the two new episodes that followed.
Before we get to what I liked about the show, let’s talk about what I didn’t like. Whenever I watch shows surrounding a group of friends, I don’t like being introduced to them before they’ve formed a bond. In order to avoid dealing with the awkward stages of a new friendship, I prefer joining in once the group has already created memories that we can revisit through flashbacks. Although I was concerned that we would miss out on fluidity, excellent banter and natural interactions, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the characters complimented each other. With more time spent with these characters, I was confident that they would grow to love each other, and I would grow to love them as well. Despite being able to overcome this initial obstacle, I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the ending of the pilot. In the future, Sophie reveals that she met the Father that night, panning to – and essentially confirming – that the Father is either Charlie, Ian (a failed talking stage), Sid, or Jesse. Honestly, I believe that this directorial decision destroyed the element of surprise that kept us all in a chokehold throughout the original plot. It’s an interesting idea, but it traps the writers and immediately eliminates any potential partners for Sophie. I hope that all of this is a misdirect, and in true HIMYM fashion, it will turn out to be someone that we failed to notice that night. Despite these minor complaints, the show seems promising.
My initial perception of a missed opportunity now appears to be an excellent way for HIMYF to demonstrate its originality. Because Sid owns a bar, I was hoping he would manage MacLaren’s Pub (or perhaps Puzzles), but in retrospect, I think it would be too close to home. Although I appreciate the unique perspective taken here, I was still eager for an easter egg or two. There’s always the possibility of a cameo from a character — whether it be any members of the original gang (let a girl dream) or a side character like Ranjit — or anything that could instantly evoke a sense of nostalgia.
And right off the bat, they do just that. Showrunners honour the original theme song by presenting the characters through a montage of film photos, while Lennon Bella performs a modernized and feminine rendition of “Hey Beautiful.” But they don’t stop there. The old apartment of Ted, Marshall and Lilly is now home to Sid and Jesse, which is probably the best route this show has taken. Jesse further mentions that they bought it “from the old couple who posted it on the Wesleyan alumni group,” almost causing my heart to burst. The apartment looks slightly different but it has the same setup that makes it instantly recognizable. And for the cherry on top? Producers were able to acquire the original swords that adorned the apartment all those years ago, making this experience so much better.
As the relationships grew and their connections improved, I became enamored with the characters. The constant teasing and trying to one-up each other immediately made me think of the original gang sitting in their regular booth at MacLaren’s. The familiar vibe is revamped to bring back old memories and this time around, we’re treated to a lot more diversity. It’s also exciting to see shots being filmed in a similar method, as well as how quirky notes, pictures and scenes are portrayed during flashbacks. It’s a rarity for other shows to feature the Thomas and Bays signature style — but it’s something I’m a huge fan of.
As a final note, I have to say that the show demonstrates a remarkable ability to balance funny and serious moments. Sophie’s rough childhood is explored and she doesn’t shy away from topics that challenge the conventional tone of a sitcom. Learning about a character’s upbringing always piques my curiosity, and HIMYF has done a great job incorporating that so far. As I tune in every Tuesday night, I can’t wait to discover the lives of the remaining characters.
Ultimately, the show looks extremely compelling, and I’m thrilled I decided to give it another shot. Showrunners finally have a series after years of hardship, rejection and failure, and we can’t let it go without a fair chance. This is something I have been eagerly anticipating since the rumours of How I Met Your Dad first emerged, so I will not be giving up on this vision. I find the show to be increasingly engrossing with each episode, and regardless of my initial skepticism, I rate it an 8/10. Despite a long road ahead, I’m confident it will accomplish some great things along the way. Just how Rome wasn’t built in a day, How I Met Your Mother wasn’t either, and we have to give How I Met Your Father time to prove itself and build its legacy.