How I Met Your Father: Season 1 REVIEW – Nostalgic & Promising

While not exactly memorable yet, the glimmer of potential makes me hopeful.

How I Met Your Father
How I Met Your Father

I think How I Met Your Father’s biggest detraction will always be how it falters in comparison to the original How I Met Your Mother, which is a shame because it has its own individual charms. The series follows Sophie (Hilary Duff), a hopeless romantic looking for love in New York – sound familiar? The show employs a similar conceit, where an older Sophie (Kim Cattrall) regals her son with stories of her youth, and how these situations led her to meeting his father. As much as I love Cattrall, these moments aren’t really funny, and lord knows how this son of hers continues to be on the Zoom call with her instead of bemoaning technical difficulties and logging off.

Sophie stays with her roommate and best friend Valentina (Francia Raisa), who is just beginning a relationship with the very British Charlie (Tom Ainsley). When the series begins, Sophie has gone on dozens of Tinder dates, with no success, until she meets Ian (Daniel Augustin). The pair connect instantly, and begin communicating with each other via text daily. They finally decide to meet, and when Sophie gets into an Uber she’s taking to get to said date, she can’t help but gush and enthuse about Ian, as well as share her hopes with driver Jesse (Christopher Lowell), and his good friend Sid (Suraj Sharma).

Already, this is a very different setting from the original series, with people connecting through apps and technology. But kismet still plays a fair part in things, since Sophie accidentally takes Sid’s phone in the Uber in her eagerness to meet Ian, and so she reconnects with Jesse and Sid again later on as she tries to get her own phone back. Jesse’s sister Ellen (Tien Tran), much like Charlie, is new to the Big Apple, starting over after a divorce. She rounds up our group of 6.

Unfortunately, things don’t work out with Ian. He’s starting a new job that will take him far away, and as much as Sophie doesn’t want to let go, their relationship is too new to survive the miles between them. Despite all her disappointments, Sophie’s still an ardent believer in love and romance. From the first episode alone, there’s already a bit of a spark between Sophie and Jesse, and we’re eager to see how this plays out. It may feel similar to Ted’s romance with Robin, but it’s not. Jesse’s very different from Robin, less shut-off, more open, even after he was publicly humiliated when his girlfriend turned down his marriage proposal and that video went viral.

Currently rated 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics certainly haven’t been kind to the series, viewing it a derivative of the original that doesn’t bring anything new to the table. That’s not exactly true. I like that the friend group is so diverse, and how they each have their own unique struggles going on. It feels very millennial – should I continue to chase my hopes and dreams, or settle?

Money struggles are a huge aspect of the new show: Sid trying to keep his bar afloat, Jesse working part time as a music teacher so he can still pursue his love for music, while Valentina has been slogging at her job for years and still has nothing to show for it. Sophie wants to make it as a photographer, surviving on random gigs, hoping that her talent gets recognised and she gets her big break. However, it’s hard to keep reaching for the stars when you realise that you’re surrounded by people with failed dreams.

Then we have Ellen, who’s still drifting, not sure what she wants to do yet while feeling the pressure of having to choose something so she doesn’t fall behind. Charlie’s arc is less relatable, since he was a trust fund baby stripped of all his money and wealth when he decided to pursue his love for Valentina. That’s definitely more uncommon as far as character arcs go, but Ainsley is so funny that it doesn’t even matter. He’s pretty much carrying most of the humour on the show at the moment, but the rest of the cast are slowly coming into their own.

At this point in her career, Duff is an expert, and can pretty much make anything watchable. Sharma and Lowell have great chemistry together, and their characters do feel like two individuals who’ve been friends for a long time. All of Sid and Jesse’s shenanigans together are reminiscent of Joey and Chandler’s bromance in Friends. In some ways, the show feels more like Friends than How I Met Your Mother. It relies more on gags, while How I Met Your Mother’s strength was the witty dialogue.

Maybe that’s why I kind of like this series more than I should. There’s an immense sense of nostalgia in the way it’s structured, as well as having someone like Duff take on the central role. It harkens back to a time where TV could be easy and fuss-free, where I could multi-task with ease, or skip an episode and miss nothing. The sitcom is slowly dying out, with TV now saturated with superhero spin-offs and more focused on content with a crime/thriller aspect.

Just look at some of the new shows this year, like Murderville and The Afterparty, both of which have bankable names and attempt to mix comedy with mystery. I’m not saying these shows aren’t enjoyable; Only Murders in the Building and The Afterparty are both hilarious and well-structured, but I do miss shows like Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, Frasier, and The Nanny. With modern shows like Modern Family and Schitt’s Creek already concluded, we need new efforts like How I Met Your Father so that we can keep the genre alive.

It’s only Season 1, the cast and writers are still finding their footing, and I do think there’s enough potential here to see a much improved Season 2. The show’s already been approved for a second season with 20 episodes, so I’m not the only one that sees what the show could be. And because the structure of this show is a tad looser, it’s more willing to go in different directions compared to the original, which still decided to stick to its original ending even when it didn’t make sense anymore. I’m certainly interested to see where things end up.

Review screener provided.

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How I Met Your Father
Verdict
As with every first season of a sitcom, How I Met Your Father needs time to find its footing, and for the writers to figure out the strengths of the actors in order to deliver better narratives and dialogue.
6.5