Released exclusively on Hulu on Jan. 18, “How I Met Your Father” offers a sequel to “How I Met Your Mother,” a television series that ran from 2005 to 2014. While nostalgic HIMYM fans might have looked forward to the pilot, the first episodes call into question whether the next series can truly stand on its own.
With an entertaining yet clichéd storyline and six quirky yet one-dimensional characters, “How I Met Your Father” lacks the originality of its predecessor. While Hillary Duff’s Sophie — the enthusiastic main character looking for love in New York City — is funny, she is not as likable as Josh Radnor’s Ted Mosby — the main character of HIMYM — with his unwavering faith and sweeping romantic declarations.
Similarly, the sass that Sophie’s friend and roommate Valentina (Francia Rasia) brings to the screen does not come close to the obnoxious yet lovable charisma of HIMYM’s Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris). “How I Met Your Father” lacks the random and hilarious details that brought the original to life. Details like the blue french horn (a restaurant decoration Ted steals in the pilot that features in each of the series’ nine seasons) made HIMYM stand out from other sitcoms.
Following the iconic and slightly modernized “How I Met Your Mother” theme song by The Solids, the pilot begins with an older version of Sophie (Kim Cattrall) video-calling her son and announcing that she is going to tell him the “unabridged” version of how she met his father. Grabbing a glass of wine and curling up on her couch, Sophie recounts the Tinder date that started it all.
Flashing back to 2022, Sophie runs across a busy street in NYC and hops into an Uber, where driver Jesse (Christopher Lowell) and his friend Sid (Suraj Sharma) are waiting for her. Sid explains that he is hitching a ride on his friend’s Uber because he is on his way to propose to his girlfriend, Hannah. After charging her phone with Jesse’s cord, Sophie announces that she is headed to a Tinder date with the man with whom she believes that she will spend the rest of her life.
During a perfect first date, Sophie and marine biologist Ian (Daniel Augustin) realize they’re perfect for each other. But Ian reveals at the end of the date that he is moving away that very night. The two part ways, and Sophie returns home to her roommate Valentina, who introduces Charlie (Tom Ainsley), the posh British boyfriend she brought home from her business trip in England.
Seeing Valentina and Charlie together despite their cultural and socio-economic differences inspires Sophie to try a long distance relationship with Ian. But before she can attempt a grand romantic gesture at the airport, she realizes that she and Sid accidentally swapped phones in the Uber. As a result, Sophie, Valentina and Charlie crash Sid’s proposal at his bar.
What follows is a series of awkward interactions at Pemberton's during the celebration of Sid’s engagement. Charlie and Valentina meet Ellen (Tien Tran), Jesse’s newly-divorced adopted sister who moved to New York “to get engaged to Kate McKinnon.”
Sophie also learns the source of Jesse’s cynicism: a failed proposal that went viral online. Once the series' new “gang” is acquainted, they all head to the airport so Hannah can return to her job in LA and Sophie can conveniently ask Ian to start a long distance relationship.
The pilot’s ending parallelled that of its inspiration — especially as it intertwined disappointment with romance and hope with cynicism.
For nostalgic HIMYM fans, this show proves great for reminiscing. The first two episodes of “How I Met Your Father” mirror the HIMYM themes and storyline: characters overshare intimate anecdotes with taxi drivers (or in the case of HIMYF, Uber drivers) the pilot revolves around a friend’s proposal and the protagonist’s epic first date ends with a hint of rejection and no parting kiss. Eagle-eyed HIMYM fans will spot several easter eggs, including Ted’s original apartment, which Sid got from an “old married couple,” who even left them their swords (the continuation of another quirky detail from HIMYM).
“How I Met Your Father” checks all the boxes of the romantic sitcom trope. It references HIMYM without copying it and captivates the audience's attention long enough for them to want to watch just one more episode. Nevertheless, “How I Met Your Father” leaves viewers craving the originality of its predecessor.
The new show’s potential to stand out from competitors like HBO’s “Love Life” and Apple TV’s “Modern Love” will hinge on its ability to replicate the wholesome energy that HIMYM brought to the screen not so many years ago.