It has been eight years since Ted Mosby’s near decade long tale of how he met the mother of his children, a finale that left quite the sour taste in the mouths of many fans. Now, it’s time to restart the journey with a new cast of characters in the long-awaited spin-off, How I Met Your Father.
As you might have expected, the series follows the same format as How I Met Your Mother, only this time it’s Sophie (Kim Cattrall) telling the story in 2050 to her (off-screen) son.
Welcome to 2022
The 2050 scenes could have been handled a little better because they aren’t anywhere near as interesting or funny as some future scenes in How I Met Your Mother. And having Future Sophie tell the story to someone we don’t see is a choice that (so far) doesn’t work, but it does allow us to keep guessing who the father could be. Cattrall helps make the sometimes awkward and humourless scenes work thanks to her charismatic performance and charmful line deliveries.
Hilary Duff is the 2022 Sophie, navigating life as a 30-something woman trying to find the perfect guy. At first, the inclusion of Duff makes the series feel like what the cancelled Lizzie McGuire revival might have been. As someone who was disappointed about the revival’s cancellation, I was afraid that this comparison would overshadow the episode, but thankfully, the feeling soon disappeared.
While it will take a little more time for fans to get used to the new cast, I think Duff will be the major exception. She navigates the occasionally awkward writing and makes even the cringe-worthy scenes enjoyable to watch.
A Shift of Direction
Many will be quick to compare the elements of How I Met Your Father to the Mother series, and the comparisons are certainly there, but the writers have done their best to help the series extend the franchise while standing apart.
One of the significant shift’s of direction comes with its diversity. Anyone who has been to New York at least once will tell you how diverse the city is, and HIMYF showcases this better in 4 episodes than HIMYM did in 9 seasons.
Ellen (Tien Tran) is one of the new standout additions that HIMYM would have greatly benefitted from. Originally from Vietnam, Ellen is the adopted sister of Jesse (Chris Lowell), and she has recently moved to New York looking to restart her life after divorcing her wife. Yes, I said wife! Many fans wanted an LGBTQ+ character in the series, and while Tran isn’t the leading lady many hoped for, she is still a big scene-stealer that makes Ellen a fantastic addition.
A Little More Than A Clone
Rounding out the cast is Sophie’s roommate, Valentina (Francia Raisa), her upper-class English boyfriend, Charlie (Tom Ainsley), with Sid (Suraj Sharma) and his roommate Jesse making up the newest member of the group.
While each performance is solid, I had a hard time separating them from the characters in HIMYM. This feeling mostly came with Sophie and Jesse, who seems to be the main will-they or won’t-they couple. Despite their enjoyable scenes, they still feel like clones of Ted and Robin. Another comparison is more positive. Fans will quickly recognise the opening theme as a female cover version of HIMYM, which I thought was a nice touch.
The show has the standard yet all-too-familiar laugh track. I should disclose that I dislike most laugh-track-guided shows, especially those that weren’t filmed in front of a live studio audience because the laughter feels fake and misplaced. I’m sorry to say that How I Met Your Father falls into the latter category.
If you read this review thinking that I had trouble summarising my thoughts, then you’re right. I found the series to be a bit of a mixed bag, but since I’ve only seen four episodes, I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. The show isn’t hilarious, and while many jokes failed to hit me, it is a somewhat humorous series that is helped mainly by the cast.
For now, I’m settling on a three and a half star rating. The show needs improvement, and you can see that the writers are so close to hitting something perfect, but they’re not quite there yet.
The first two episodes of How I Met Your Father premieres on Hulu on Tuesday, 19th January. It will also premiere on Star+, Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar, although there has been no set date outside the US.