'How I Met Your Father' Redeems the Missteps of 'Mother' by Being Bad Right from the Start

Created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger

Starring Hilary Duff, Chris Lowell, Francia Raisa, Tom Ainsley, Suraj Sharma, Tien Tran, Kim Cattrall

BY Alex HudsonPublished Mar 10, 2022

How I Met Your Mother had an iconically terrible series finale. Eight years later, I'm still mad about how the writers undermined nine seasons' worth of plot and character development within the final few minutes.

Now, the long-delayed spinoff How I Met Your Father is here — and it does audiences a favour by being bad right from the beginning.

It's tough to tell if Father is appreciably worse than Mother, or if it simply repeats a painfully outdated sitcom formula. The laugh track twitters irritatingly at every unfunny non-joke. Lead character Sophie (Hilary Duff) idealizes love in the pseudo-meta manner of a '90s rom-com. The cutaway gags are blatantly stolen from Family Guy. There's a peripheral young character whose sole joke is to say Gen Z slang that no one understands, intensifying the sense that HIMYF is totally out of touch.

In the first episode, the main ensemble of six friends assemble so clumsily that you can practically hear the writers' room scrambling to finish the script by 5 p.m. in order to avoid doing any overtime. "It's getting late. I dunno, let's just say she becomes friends with her Uber driver," someone presumably said.

The basic premise is the same as HIMYM: in the year 2050, an older Sophie (Kim Cattrall, who I guess skipped the Sex and the City reboot for this?) begins telling her son the long story of how she met his dad, setting the scene for the present-day version of Sophie to presumably get together with one of those clumsily assembled friends: Sophie's Uber driver Jesse (Chris Lowell), his friend Sid (Suraj Sharma), and the British snob Charlie (Tom Ainsley).

The snooty Charlie is a caricature of a hoity toity English aristocrat, but he's the closest thing the show has to a distinctive character, and his jokes are amiable in a soft-hitting, pointing-out-the-differences-between-cultures sort of way. The show's remaining leads — Jesse's gratingly upbeat sister Ellen (Tien Tran) and Sophie's friend Valentina (Francia Raisa) — are far less memorable.

After the bitter aftertaste of Mother, an optimistic viewer might have hoped that Father was a chance to redeem that infamous ending. Instead, this is, at best, a trash sitcom to put on in the background while doing the dishes.

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