The new sequel series from Hulu has plenty to recommend it, but still doesn’t feel like its own project.
Hulu’s new series How I Met Your Father attempts to recreate the magic of the – wait for it! – legendary status of the original series How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM for short). This update proves a nostalgic ride for fans of the original series and an enjoyable journey for newcomers, even if it lacks some of the fresh qualities of its predecessor.
This sequel opens with impeccably elegant 2050 Sophie (Kim Cattrall) initiating a wine-infused video to her college student son (who we never see). She intends to tell him about when younger Sophie (Hilary Duff) met his father in NYC. However, as in the original, Sophie gets off track. Soon she’s on the unabridged version of their meet-cute, going back to 2022 to introduce her younger self and friends along the way.
One of the better improvements on the series is the diverse cast. Sophie’s friends include fashionista and “fun friend” Valentina (Francia Raisa) and her posh British boyfriend Charlie (Tom Ainsley), who were “Meghan Markle-d” when his aristocratic family disapproved of his Mexican girlfriend. An Uber cellphone mix-up connects these friends with part-time music teacher/Uber driver Jessie (Chris Lowell) mid-rebound after his awkward failed engagement video went viral; Jessie’s younger sister Ellen (Tien Tran), a recent NYC transplant looking to restart her life after she divorces her wife; and newly engaged bartender Sid (Suraj Sharma) and his surgeon girlfriend Hannah (Ashley Reyes), trying to make the best of their long-distance relationship. The cast is a relatable, jovial crew who solidifies their friend group status the night of Sid and Hannah’s engagement.
Duff and Lowell are excellent as Sophie and Jessie. They play off each other with ease. She’s the hopeless romantic who still believes in love after a disastrous year of 87 Tinder dates. He’s the jaded guy who proclaims he’s never getting married after his epic failed proposal. Sophie and Jessie are joining the ranks of classic “will they or won’t they” TV couples, essentially flipping the Ted (Josh Radnor) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) relationship from the original series. It may not be anything viewers haven’t seen before, but Lowell and Duff are a charming pair and natural performers when it comes to multi-cam format.
The other cast member that many viewers will be tuning in to see is Kim Cattrall. Cattrall is sublime as Sophie’s wiser and wined-up version, reclining in her luxurious living room as she tells her son about her younger past life. If you’ve missed seeing Cattrall, wine glass in hand, waxing poetic about dating in NYC, then How I Met Your Father just might be the show for you.
[N]ewcomers might have an easier time joining the show, merrily streaming along with few expectations and little comparisons to the original.
There will inevitably be comparisons between Cattrall and HIMYM narrator, the late Bob Saget, who was the voice of future Ted. Saget, America’s dad, was an excellent choice for the original. Still, Cattrall holds her own as the narrator. It’s a different voiceover vibe, but it works.
How I Met Your Father is racier than the original. This is vividly illustrated in episode three when Sid and Hannah get into very vivid details of the sex toys used to keep their long-distance relationship alive. Perhaps that’s the benefit of being on streamer like Hulu and not on a network. HIMYM frequently had to play with innuendo; Father gets to say what it means.
There’s a lot to love about the new series in the four episodes available to review, but it doesn’t feel as innovative as How I Met Your Mother when it premiered in 2005. The original series was clever in presentation, breaking the traditional sitcom format, often whip-panning between timelines, playing with the conventions of the rom-com genre to keep the audience guessing the identity of “the Mother.” It injected life into the stale and formulaic multi-cam sitcom.
How I Met Your Father plays the same type of game, pulling off a twist at the end of the pilot that likely will have viewers returning for more. Nonetheless, it is now traveling down a road already established by its predecessor. As a result, newcomers might have an easier time joining the show, merrily streaming along with few expectations and little comparisons to the original.
How I Met Your Father is like a Tinder date for modern viewers: it’s got a lot to love on appearance. Whether or not they commit to a steady relationship may well hinge on a lack of familiarity with its storytelling moves.
How I Met Your Father has a story to tell you starting on January 18th on Hulu.