Towards the end of How I Met Your Mother‘s first season, an older Ted Mosby, voiced by the late Bob Saget, shared the following nugget of wisdom, “Here’s the thing about mistakes: Sometimes, even when you know something’s a mistake, you gotta make it anyway.”
And that, kids, is probably how we got How I Met Your Father.
The Hulu original series, created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, serves as a sequel to Carter Bays and Craig Thomas’s ambitious, enchanting sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. The show, which aired from 2005 to 2014, charmed viewers by telling a tale of love, friendship, and life in New York City through a series of flashbacks. At its peak, HIMYM was sincerely special; a hopeful love letter to love that could thaw even the most cold-hearted cynics. But nine seasons later, it riled longtime fans with a messy ending that — along with a failed Greta Gerwig spin-off called How I Met Your Dad — should have been enough to discourage anyone from repeating its premise. And yet, we got How I Met Your Father anyway.
As the title suggests, the plot is flipped this time around. It’s the year 2050, and an older version of our protagonist Sophie (Kim Cattrall) is video chatting with her son who’s away at college. With a glass of wine in hand, she dives into the story of how she met his father back in 2022, a year when dating apps were all the rage but Tinder matches rarely resulted in romance. (Oh, and it seems there was no pandemic? A real choice!)
Flashbacks show a 29-year-old Sophie (Hilary Duff) repeatedly announcing that she’s been on 88 Tinder dates in a single year and still hasn’t found her person. Luckily, she has her best friend and roommate, Valentina (Francia Raísa), to lean on when times get tough, along with their random assortment of new friends. The bunch includes Uber driver/music teacher/guy who went viral for a failed marriage proposal, Jesse (Christopher Lowell); his friend Sid (Suraj Sharma), who owns a bar called Pemberton’s; Jesse’s adopted sister, Ellen (Tien Tran), who just moved to New York after divorcing her wife; and Charlie (Tom Ainsley), Valentina’s wealthy British boyfriend, who left his privileged life behind to follow her to the Big Apple.
Here’s to good friends living large in the Big Apple.
Credit: Patrick Wymore / Hulu
The group doesn’t have a foundation as tight-knit as HIMYM‘s Ted, Marshall, and Lily, but in a single evening that features a meet-cute in an Uber, an accidental phone swap, a proposal, a grand romantic gesture, a rejection, and a shared quintessential New York experience, the six (almost effortlessly) lay the groundwork for a believable budding friendship.
The sequel pays homage to the original series with gratifying inside jokes and Easter eggs, but sadly the HIMYM callbacks aren’t the only signs that How I Met Your Father is stuck in the past. Dated pop culture references to Jane Fonda workout tapes and early 2000s music feel forced, like strategically-placed nostalgia trying too hard to hook millennial viewers. It’s understandable to long for a world before technology played such a heavy role in our love stories, but a lot has changed since 2005. Dropping buzzwords related to dating apps and internet slang isn’t enough to make this modern series stand apart from the dated blueprint it’s using as inspiration. In order for How I Met Your Father to succeed, writers can’t solely rely on replicating morsels of HIMYM‘s magic and tapping into nostalgia. They’ll need to fully embrace their modern-day setting and lean into what makes relationships, communication, and life so different today.
Dropping buzzwords related to dating apps and internet slang isn’t enough to make this modern series stand apart from the dated blueprint it’s using as inspiration.
Four screeners in, the laugh track does the heavy lifting for jokes that don’t play, including one line two minutes into the pilot that actually made me cringe. But that’s not to say the show’s all bad.
Duff brings a heavy dose of charisma to the role, and her talented castmates have enough chemistry and charm to keep viewers coming back for Season 1’s ten episodes. Though HIMYM fans already have a personal investment in the series, it’s worth noting that prior viewing isn’t required. The show will hit if you’re trying to fill the Younger void in your life, are still holding out hope for a Lizzie McGuire reboot, want to see former Nickelodeon icon Josh Peck share the screen with Disney royalty, or are still looking for love while also three years deep into a pandemic. (Especially then!)
Nearly halfway through the first season, the sequel isn’t legendary yet. But as the original series taught us, sometimes things are worth the wait.