Anticipation is high for the Hillary Duff-starring How I Met Your Father, but the spinoff show has the very difficult task of trying to top How I Met Your Mother’s perfect pilot. The Hulu comedy is created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger (This Is Us and Love, Victor) and has received a straight-to-series order of 10 episodes. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the creators of HIMYM, will serve as executive producers.
The original show ran for nine seasons from 2005 to 2014 and followed Ted’s (Josh Radnor) search for the future mother of his children, framed around his older self (voiced by Bob Saget) recounting his romantic misadventures to his teenage kids. Although later seasons needlessly dragged out the story and ended with an incredibly controversial finale, How I Met Your Mother is fondly remembered for its stellar cast and once sharp writing. How I Met Your Father, meanwhile, will feature Sophie (Duff) telling her future son how she met his father, navigating the current dating world with her friends.
Hillary Duff has hyped up the “hysterical” table read for How I Met Your Father, only placing greater pressure on the spinoff to live up to its beloved predecessor. Aptaker and Berger’s pilot must immediately make audiences care about Sophie and her friends and overcome the inevitable comparisons to the original. How I Met Your Father’s story must go in an interesting new direction rather than repeat HIMYM’s already very similar premise, but will undoubtedly want to utilize what made the original’s debut so perfect, such as its character dynamic, clever misdirection via the show’s framing device, and the twist involving Robin.
How I Met Your Father has a popular TV star at its center but will need a charismatic ensemble to retain interest. How I Met Your Mother’s cast had terrific chemistry, and their characters were introduced in a way that succinctly showcased their personalities and position within the friendship group. The newly engaged Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) were the (slightly) more mature parental figures, and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) the womanizer concealing a wealth of insecurities, clearly driving Ted’s desire to settle down. Although Ted became far less likable as the show progressed, the pilot established him as a charming, hopeless romantic. Josh Radnor adeptly balanced Ted’s wacky and pretentious qualities and displayed endearing sincerity in dramatic moments. Hopefully, Duff’s Sophie can provide a similarly quirky yet relatable protagonist, albeit perhaps a more restrained one with whom the series can explore dating through the female gaze.
The framing device defining How I Met Your Mother’s premise was effectively implemented in the pilot. Ted’s (possibly unreliable) narration injected the show with more energy than most sitcoms and allowed for an unconventional structure, utilizing abrupt freeze-frames to explain missed information as if someone really were recounting an old story. Ending on the cliffhanger that Robin, with whom Ted is infatuated, is not the mother of Ted’s children was a fantastic way to grab attention, posing a red herring while also teasing a larger mystery. The pilot perfectly conveyed how HIMYM wouldn’t be a simple story. The return of Pamela Fryman, who directed most episodes including the pilot, suggests How I Met Your Father could be very similarly presented. Yet, the comedy must also depict how the present-day reliance on dating apps and social media influences modern relationships.
The Robin twist in How I Met Your Mother’s pilot ensured viewers were equally interested in the current storylines and the mother’s identity. Today’s dating world is very different from 2005, where people can instantly connect online, meaning How I Met Your Father needs to craft a believable mystery unspoiled by modern technology, something the original rarely encountered. Therefore, the spinoff’s plot is arguably more important than the original’s, and it can’t simply coast on in-universe references and HIMYM guest appearances.