After years of talk, the How I Met Your Mother spinoff is here, and it was inevitable that I'd watch it. I was late to the game on HIMYM. I watched most of the show in the span of a year during my freshman year in college and finished it right in time to watch the last season of the show as it aired. I was one of the countless people who hated the ending. All these years later, and it's still my most hated finale ever. It soured me on the show so much that I haven't re-watched an episode since. I've seen bits a pieces when it happened to be on TV, but even that's only happened a few times because I don't watch live TV.
Despite that, I used to enjoy HIMYM enough that I wanted to give How I Met Your Father a shot. If for no other reason than to see what they do with it. Actually, that's a lie. That's not the only reason I want to watch.
Another reason I was curious to watch is because Hilary Duff plays the main character, Sophie. I was a big fan of Hilary Duff in elementary/middle school. I watched Lizzie McGuire, and after that, my friends and I listened to her music constantly. We were big enough fans that everyone in our class knew about it. Despite that, I haven't paid much attention to what she's doing in a good fifteen years. I've seen her in things here or there, but I know she's been in other shows that I just haven't bothered watching.
The combination of both having watched HIMYM and having been a Hilary Duff fan did make me more interested in the show though. Based off the first episode alone, I like the cast so far. The only other actor I'm familiar with is Francia Raisa (though I only saw her in parts of The Secret Life of an American Teenager when my sister watched it), but I thought everyone did a good job in the pilot.
I was not expecting a random posh British dude to be part of the main cast, but I guess that'll be interesting too.
One of several ways that this show is different from HIMYM so far is that, in the scenes set in the future, we see Sophie instead of her son. This makes a lot of sense. HIMYM definitely felt constrained only being able to use pre-recorded footage of the child actors reacting to stuff, since the actors aged over the years of the show. That's less of a concern with an adult actor, and the fact that Sophie is telling the story over a video call makes not seeing his face feel natural even.
Of course, Sophie's son seems older than Ted's kids were, so aging might not even have been as big a deal if we did see him, but I still think it's a good decision.
The show feels current with Sophie going on a Tinder date and taking an Uber. Jesse's backstory is even that he went viral for a failed proposal to his girlfriend. None of that would have happened in How I Met Your Mother.
That being said, the show's definitely taking place in a fictional, idealized version of 2022, since there's not a single mention of the pandemic. Ian even goes on a business trip and then moves to Australia despite Australia having had some of the strictest border control measures. After the past couple of years, it's pretty bizarre to have the characters repeatedly state that it's 2022 with no mention of what everyone's been going through in the "real world" since 2020.
If everything else about this episode wasn't enough to make me suspicious that Jesse is the "father," then him swearing that he'd never get married did. He seems to be similar to Ted while he and Sophie seem to be in a similar position to Ted and Robin, and even though Robin wasn't the mother in HIMYM, I feel like the disaster of the HIMYM finale means that they're going to handle that differently this time around.
At the end of this episode, we're told that we've already met the father, which only makes me more suspicious that it's Jesse. It seems like How I Met Your Father might have learned from its predecessor that being able to develop a relationship over time will give it more power than showing seasons' worth of relationships and then suddenly adding a new one to the story and expecting it to have the same impact.
That being said, it might not be Jesse. It might be one of the other guys in the episode, and I'd be interested in seeing if the show could do a good job pulling off a twist like that. (Though, depending on how the show goes, it might feel like less of a twist by the time it happened.)
One thing that will be interesting is how the characters are referred to in the "future" scenes. In HIMYM, Ted referred to Lily and Robin both as his kids' "aunts" throughout the series, so it was pretty clear that they weren't the mother. This time around, though, we know someone in the show is the father but not who. So I'm guessing no one will be referred to as "uncle" because it would ruin the surprise. Future Sophie will probably refer to everyone by name, but anytime the kid refers to "dad," they can't make it too obvious who he's referring to. And if he calls any of the male characters by their name, then they're probably not the father. So I wonder if he just won't directly refer to anyone at all. It'll be interesting to see how that goes.
That didn't really occur to me until I sat down to write this post, though, so now I'm wondering if he said anything that could have been a clue. But I'm guessing he didn't.
We get a dash of nostalgia for the old series when we learn that Jesse and Sid are living in Ted, Marshall, and Lily's old apartment. I really like this. I'm not sure how much time we'll be spending in each place yet, but since Sophie's the main character, I expect her apartment will be the main hub, and I like that it doesn't have ties to the old series. But the old apartment is also still there, and we'll get to see it.
Overall, I enjoyed this first episode even more than I expected I would. There are downsides to the format of HIMYM that I'm sure this spinoff will have to deal with too, but there are ways that I think it learned from HIMYM. I'm curious to see where the story goes, but I also can't say that I have that high of expectations overall. I expect it to be enjoyable, but I'm not holding out for anything groundbreaking or amazing.