Hulu's "How I Met Your Father" Joins the "How-I-Met-Your-Whomever"-verse

By #AndradeSays Archives
Cover image for  article: Hulu's "How I Met Your Father" Joins the "How-I-Met-Your-Whomever"-verse

The progenitor of the How-I-Met-Your-Whomever-verse, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas's How I Met Your Mother, was a rom-com-style sitcom starring Doogie Howser, that dude from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the redhead from American Pie, that lady now known from Marvel movies, and Josh Radnor (and spoiler alert -- the first wife from Wolf of Wall Street is the titular mom). Point is, this star-studded cast put its heartstring-pulling talents to work and gave us nine seasons (208 episodes) of primetime, mid-to-late twenties coming-of-age tomfoolery. It was great. Then it ended. Now, seventeen years after the debut of HIMYM, the next chapter of this particular multiverse has arrived: Hulu's How I Met Your Father.

Interestingly enough, this new series wasn't created by the same duo that brought us the first. HIMYF was created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, both of whom worked on This Is Us, as well as a personal favorite of mine, Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. HIMYF follows Sophie, who begins the series by calling her son via her smart house and, sans provocation, giving him the wine-fueled "unabridged version" of how she met his father almost 30 years prior (which is our present day). This one stars Lizzie Maguire (Hilary Duff), that dude from GLOW(Christopher Lowell), the Latina from grown-ish (Francia Raisa) and Pi from Life of Pi (Suraj Sharma).

Naturally, similarities abound, but always with a twist. HIMYM was narrated by the late Bob Saget as future Ted Mosby's voice. In HIMYF, future Sophie is actually the first person we see, and she's played by Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall, though she still narrates the flashbacks. There were five friends in the original (Marshall, Lily, Barney, Robin and Ted) -- six, if you count the eventual addition of the mother, Tracy (which I don't, honestly). HIMYF introduces a group of six right out of the gate -- Sophie (Duff), her designer friend Valentina (Raisa), aspiring musician turned Uber driver Jesse (Lowell), Jesse's adopted sister Ellie (Tran), Jesse's friend/local bar owner Sid (Sharma) and Valentina's unnecessarily ripped British boyfriend (for now), Charlie (Tom Ainsley) – which either means the father in question is either already in the group, or will be a late addition, like Tracy on the other show.

Look, I get it. I heard the collective groan from some of you more cynical types when this series was announced, mainly because of how complete a story the original series was. It didn’t feel like we needed more. However, the defining framework of HIMYF and its predecessor is pretty clever, and limiting its use to the one series would’ve probably been a waste, especially since we’ve already proven it works.

What really works for HIMYF is how it’s been modernized. The main lead of the series is female this time around, and she’s a little more of a hopeless romantic than she is a hopelessly romantic goof, unlike our old friend, Mr. Mosby. She does, however, share his notion that true love is out there just waiting to be found, which is why she'd been on "87 Tinder dates this year" before the first episode even started. Valentina represents modern Millennial women, which is obvious considering her "sexy souvenir" from Fashion Week was friggin' Charlie. She's a professional, she's independent (besides having a roommate) and she's sex positive. I'd call her the new Barney, but old Barney would probably get cancelled in today's climate, so that's also probably not the direction that the writers plan on taking her. However, she does say things like, "You think Queen Jane [Fonda] stays in on a Saturday night? No! She's out on the town, crushing dick." So, there's that.

The real question for me was, "What ties these two shows together?" At first, I thought it might be the bar this group frequents, but one wide shot later and I knew it couldn't be MacLaren's. The energy of the show feels the same, as if romantic comedies have turned into an airborne pathogen that causes everyone to be extra passionate and hyper self-aware emotionally (no one publicly speaks their emotions like that, at least not that often), but I knew that wasn't really it, either.

Eventually (small spoiler alert), we find out what the real connective tissue is: Jesse, Sid and Ellen's apartment is actually Ted, Marshall and Lily's old one. The apartment is one of the show's characters in and of itself and is the one physically recognizable thing from the previous series besides the city of New York. This makes Sophie our new Ted, though slightly less goofy, Valentina has Charlie but also gives me Barney vibes, Sid feels like he could be Marshall if Marshall was cooler, Jesse is most likely the new Robin, and that makes Ellen the lesbian version of Lily, somehow. Obviously, these are all vibe-based comparisons, and for all I know the writers of this series intend to stop all similarities with the apartment but, you know, sitcoms are formulaic, and the last formula worked, so I'd imagine not.

The truth is, it's too early to call if this one will go the distance, but I feel like it's odds are pretty good. Like I said, the energy is there, the cast is likable as hell, and the apartment reveal was really the icing on the cake for me. Plus, this writer's room has the luxury (I assume) of knowing where they want this thing to go in advance. I imagine HIMYM didn't have a known outcome (who the mother was) from the start because no one knew if they'd get renewed at first, but now that's there's an established fan base this time around, I probably would've gone into the process wanting to zero in on who the titular father was pretty early.

HIMYF might not be the most original thing ever done, but it's got plenty of heart, and its bread and butter is being just charming enough for one to ignore the inherently corny nature of its traditional sitcom structure. Its creators have plenty of chops in rom-com territory, however, and I'm confident that we'll eventually get the same emotionally intuitive writing and unique plot devices that helped make the first show a classic (see: HIMYM's countdown in the episode Bad News). It'd be pretty hard to mess this one up, especially with such a solid predecessor having blazed the trail.

New episodes of How I Met Your Father premiere Tuesdays on Hulu.

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