The news that Lizzie McGuire herself Hillary Duff will be starring in the long-awaited How I Met Your Mother sister series How I Met Your Father should be good news for disappointed fans of her breakout hit, as this show could replace its canceled reboot. Beginning its nine-season run shortly after the end of Friends, How I Met Your Mother soon established itself as an inventive spin on the “hang-out show” formula that had made the earlier NYC-set hit so successful.
Like Friends, How I Met Your Mother centered on the antics of a group of close friends, some single and some in relationships, as they navigated the frequently funny territory of modern dating and work. Unlike Friends, though, How I Met Your Mother predicted the future by setting its action in the late 2020s, with the protagonist recounting his adventures during his twenties and thirties to his kids. This clever premise meant that How I Met Your Mother could play with perspective and storytelling techniques while also offering classic sitcom love triangles and comedy set-pieces.
Another ‘00s sitcom that played with the conventions of the sub-genre, albeit for a younger audience, was Lizzie McGuire. A cult hit still beloved by viewers of a certain vintage, Lizzie McGuire saw its young titular heroine (the breakout role of Hillary Duff) navigating the cringeworthy comical realities of middle-school life with frequent animated asides that staved off predictability. As such, the news that the series How I Met Your Father is going into production with Hillary Duff in the lead role should be exciting for fans of both How I Met Your Mother and Lizzie McGuire, whose planned grown-up reboot was canceled last year. Although How I Met Your Mother’s final season was divisive, the sitcom still boasted an impressive track record of offering funny, inventive spins of sitcom conventions, much like Lizzie McGuire offered a fresh take on the tired “teen girl dramedy” setup.
The proposed Lizzie McGuire reboot series was one of the most exciting elements of the initial announcement of Disney+, but ironically the series ended up being canceled due to the very elements that made it exciting for fans of the original show. Much of what made a grown-up Lizzie McGuire series appealing was the prospect of seeing Hilary Duff’s likable title character grow into an everywoman protagonist muddling through the complexities of dating, work, and adult life in general, applying the original show’s light-hearted but emotionally resonant tone to a more grown-up milieu. That is essentially the appeal of How I Met Your Mother, too, with the original series balancing comedy elements and poignant dramatic moments with more grace than many of its sitcom competitors.
Thanks to the original iteration of Lizzie McGuire, Hillary Duff even has the pedigree of already playing a sitcom protagonist who is less hated than Ted Mosby, Josh Radnor’s ostensible How I Met Your Mother “hero” who proved as divisive among fans as Friends’ Ross Geller before him. It is undeniably a shame that Disney proved unwilling to change the Lizzie McGuire reboot’s content to fit the older demographic that its original viewers now occupy, but the company’s loss is How I Met Your Father’s gain. After all, if Duff’s upcoming series can recreate the appeal of its predecessor How I Met Your Mother, then a sitcom about a relatable everywoman looking to balance work, love, and life is as good a spiritual follow-up to Lizzie McGuire as fans of the original series could want.