The new Disney+ comedy follows the format of the hugely popular How I Met Your Mother
In 2050, Sophie decides to tell her son how she met his father – the frame for a series of flashbacks to the year 2022 relating the adventures of a close-knit group of 30-something friends living in New York. Thus begins How I Met Your Father (released Wednesday, May 11, on Disney+), the sequel to the early 2000s hit series How I Met Your Mother. In this new version, Sophie (Hilary Duff) takes over the role of the hopeless romantic from Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), who met more than thirty girls while trying to find “the one”. Sophie, whose older version is played by Kim Cattrall (Samantha in Sex and the City), is not to be left behind – she starts the series with over 80 Tinder dates in only one year under her belt.
But it’s not just the technology that’s changed over time – Sophie has a much more diverse group of friends than those in the original series. Her roommate and best friend, Valentina (Francia Raisa), is a young Mexican stylist. Then there’s Jesse (Chris Lowell), an Uber driver who also teaches music and lives with Sid (Suraj Sharma, an actor of Indian origin). Sid runs the bar which is the watering hole for the group, which also includes Charlie (Tom Ainsley), an English aristocrat who Valentina is initially in love with, and Ellen (Tien Tran, an actress of Asian descent), Jesse’s adoptive sister, who has just arrived in Manhattan after divorcing her wife.
As in the original series, the search for a lifelong love is theabiding theme in How I Met Your Father and it also shares the familiar ‘friends sitcom’ vibe (even down to the canned laughter). This new group of friends has its charms, but in just the 10 episodes of the debut season it’s hard for them to compete with the charisma of the characters who accompanied viewers through nine whole seasons, such as Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), or Robin (Cobie Smulders), who has a cameo in the spinoff.
Nods to the original gang
For the most nostalgic viewers, creators Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger (This Is Us; Love, Simon; Love, Victor) have included small tributes to How I Met Your Mother, which was possibly the best successor to Friends. There’s the same iconic theme song, only now sung by a woman; several characters live on the same floor that Ted, Marshall and Lily shared at the start of the earlier series; and like MacLaren’s Pub, the new friends also have a hangout, Pemberton’s, run by Sid. What’s more, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, creators of the original show, are back for the sequel as executive producers.
For now, there’ll be a 20-episode, second season of How I Met Your Father, giving viewers more time to figure out who Sophie’s great love is and Sophie more time to enamor the viewers. But the question is whether there are new audiences today willing to be seduced by a series already very familiar to those of us who loved its predecessor (if not so much the finale) from over a decade ago.