How I Met Your Father review: Hilary Duff’s Hulu show gives me what I want
Like many others, I was burned by the how I Met Your Mother final. Why spend nine seasons building until a character is introduced to unceremoniously kill her off? Why would my favorite couple on the show break up so unbearably that Ted Mosby could shoot their picture decades later? As much as the sitcom captivated me with its close-knit friend group dynamic, full of inside jokes that the characters shared with the audience, the finale took everything I loved about the show and managed to do it. explode completely in the last 10 minutes.
So when how i met your father — not to be confused with shelves how i met your father — was announced, I rejected it on principle. They won’t get me this time, I thought. I am stronger. I have learned. I’ve outgrown the need for sitcoms about groups of friends in New York in incredibly cool apartments.
‘Twas with a heart of steel that I watched the how i met your father first, through narrowed eyes, as I mentally prepared myself to be disappointed. And yet, the more I looked, the more I let my heart of ice melt and in the end, I realized that perhaps for the first time I am More precisely the target audience for something. I grew up with Lizzie McGuire, I watched the how I Met Your Mother finale in the common area of my college dorm, I’m a late twenties living in New York City, who feels like the pandemic has deprived me of spontaneous sitcom adventures alongside a group of friends with magically clear schedules (like I go out a lot before), and my engagement photos were taken with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background (more on that later).
If I can’t run through town with a bunch of beautiful people, at least I can watch Hilary Duff do it! I let go of my cynicism and reluctantly embraced how i met your father — which may still disappoint me, but I cling to how this first episode made me feel.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the first episode of How I Met Your Father]
The premise of how i met your father is almost the same as how I Met Your Mother. A middle-aged woman named Sophie, played by Kim Cattrall, calls her son in 2050 to tell him the story of meeting his father. Flashback to 2022, where she’s played by Hilary Duff, and Sophie is about to go on the most important Tinder date of her life, with charming marine biologist Ian (Daniel Augustin). On the way, she gets into an Uber driven by Jesse (Chris Lowell), who is driving his best friend Sid (Suraj Sharma) to propose to his girlfriend. However, Sophie’s date is cut short when she learns that Ian has taken a job in Australia – despite all their chemistry, the two agree that a long-distance relationship based on lots of texts and an IRL meeting is probably a bad one. idea.
Thanks to some sitcom mishaps and magic, at the end of the episode, Sophie crosses the Brooklyn Bridge with not only Sid and Jesse, but Jesse’s adoptive sister, Ellen (Tien Tran), who has just moved to New York after a divorce. and Sophie’s impulsive housemate Valentine (Francia Raisa) and Charlie (Tom Ainsley), her posh British boyfriend whom she spontaneously invited to live with her after he was disowned. How they all end up in this fatal march is certainly the result of contrived TV happenstance, but that’s the charm of a sitcom: where event after event goes horribly wrong, so one thing can go wonderfully right. how I Met Your Mother always successful (at least, until this last episode), and seeing it reproduced in how i met your father promises the same kind of satisfying sitcom serendipity. At the end of the episode, Sophie tells her son that she do indeed meet his father that night – and the show flashes on every notable man, including Sid and Charlie – but that the story of how they came together is much longer.
It’s a notable variant of the original, where we didn’t meet the Mother until the very last episode of the final season. But a bit like the original how I Met Your Mother was really on the basic friend group, how i met your father it feels like it will intentionally be more about friendship than romance. But unlike how I Met Your Mother, which invited the viewer into a mostly already established group of friends, how i met your father seems to be building it with two separate groups of friends coming together. It’s not the same immediate chemistry of how I Met Your Mother, but the different dynamic makes the show particularly compelling – how Is it that we make friends in our twenties in New York, without bringing them out of college like Ted, Marshall and Lily?
Although Sid and his bride resemble Marshall and Lily on a superficial level, the characters are not enough head-to-head matches HIMYM casting (and probably for the best – let’s be real, the whole Barney schtick hasn’t aged well). Certain sitcom tropes link them – Sophie as the main romantic will obviously be similar to Ted, while the cynical Jesse shares some traits with Robin. But the Familiarities are less direct homages, as they’re just typical sitcom stock characters. Charlie is the funniest addition, his chic and stuffy roots providing a hilarious juxtaposition to the everyday lives of ordinary New Yorkers, but the other characters all have promise to grow beyond their one-note impressions. The similarities between the original cast are there if you want to research them, but they don’t have to be.
Unfortunately, the similarity that is blatant is the comedic delivery of the very early 2000s. Maybe that stilted, contrived delivery was charming in 2005, but in 2022, it’s just awkward. The timing almost exactly mirrors the original, equal parts confusing and nostalgic. On the one hand, would it really be a how I Met Your Mother sequel if it didn’t spark the same kind of energy? But on the other hand, there are certain modernisms that ring true weird in early 2000s sitcom lingo. At one point, Sophie says her phone is getting hungry and making what I can only describe as cute gobbling noises when she plugs it into the car charger. I visibly recoiled (as if I hadn’t made the exact same noise charging my phone before); it’s just a version of today that doesn’t quite exist in the real world. Sometimes it’s awkward and weird. And other times, it transcends the cringe.
Yes, it’s a version of 2022 where no one wears a mask in Ubers and going to a crowded bar on a Saturday night seems like a fun thing to do, but I needed to see that. I want to see an actress I grew up with doing the things I thought I would do at that age, with a group of strangers who slowly become friends because they all magically live close to each other and have schedules that line up (I can’t stress enough – the most unrealistic part of sitcoms about groups of friends is how they all regularly have the same free time). I needed to see Hilary Duff make a stupid noise as she loaded her phone into an Uber full of strangers, something I would only do in the privacy of my own home.
The reason Sophie crosses the Brooklyn Bridge at the end of this episode is because she promised herself to do so for the first time with her soulmate – but she decides she doesn’t want to wait for a guy. She will take control of her own life, make new friends and lasting memories. When one of my last great New York memories before the pandemic was taking engagement photos in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, surrounded by my closest friends, it hits me all the more. May be how i met your father will never be more than a faint shadow of the original, but for me it evokes a specific feeling of nostalgia for the old and melancholy for what could be – yes, there’s a good chance I’ll be again burned as the show goes on, but maybe, as the entire How I Met Your saga repeats, it’s worth burning in the pursuit of love.
The first two episodes of how i met your father are available on Hulu.