Our Take: 3/5 Stars
“How I Met Your Father” came out to mixed to negative reviews in late January. The show, a spin-off of “How I Met Your Mother,” depicts a woman telling her children the story of how she met their father in a series of flashbacks. Like many sitcoms, the first few episodes show evidence of the creators stumbling to find what the show’s tone will be.
“How I Met Your Father” stars Hilary Duff (“Younger”) as a young Sophie; her character is a photographer in New York City, hopelessly romantic but also tired of the dating scene. Playing Sophie’s “will they won’t they’’ counterpart is Chris Lowell (“Promising Young Woman”) as Jesse, a former musician and current music teacher and Uber driver.
So far, Sophie’s role as naive over-optimist counters Jesse’s cynical moral compass, but as the show progresses, these characterizations will likely grow beyond these typical tropes of the genre.
In the pilot, Sophie meets Jesse in the first episode through a plot device many romantic comedy fans will recognize: the accidental phone switch (a la “Stuck In The Suburbs”).
They quickly befriend each other and bring with them their own respective friend groups that then combine.
These quirky characters round out the ensemble, and their classic hang-out spot of the bar satisfies the last requirement for a sitcom about friendship. The show so far follows the antics of this group trying to make their way in the city.
“How I Met Your Father” has all the framework for a successful sitcom, and yet, it is missing the mark.
The at-times cringey humor is a symptom of the show’s underlying problem of underdevelopment. There are no inside jokes or comfortable rapport to walk in on.
Instead of viewing the dynamics and charm of a fully formed friend group that has known each other for years, the audience has the uncomfortable role of watching this group form.
Critics of the show in the YouTube comment section of clips from the show voice an opinion that the show is “pretty people failing to be relatable.”
However, most shows cast pretty people; the difference is that most shows also present these characters in a state of suspension of disbelief that allows audiences to forget that they are pretty. “How I Met Your Father” fails to do this task.
Instead of splitting the cast into relatable characters reacting to unrealistic circumstances (as seen in “the Office”) or having more eccentric characters in realistic circumstances (as seen in “New Girl”), each character has an uncomfortable balance of relatability and caricature that reminds the viewer how unrealistic this situation and dynamic is.
These flaws of underdevelopment are common to the first season of many successful series and can be resolved in time, but whether audiences will stick around to see this redirection remains to be seen.
The show’s predecessor, HIMYM, came out on a time of cable television; the act of changing the channel at 8:45 p.m. to watch the latest episode of a more popular series coming on at 9 p.m. would naturally lead viewers to give shows multiple tries. This practice allowed for sitcoms to find their footwork. With the interface of streaming and the plethora of options available, the expectation is higher for shows to be condensed and thought out.
The show earns three stars. It is a comfortable show to play while trying to study or when very tired, but it does not yet have the quality that would make it suitable to watch in groups, rewatch or quote. While “How I Met Your Father” has potential, the creators are so focused on it becoming a classic that they forget they first need to make it a comedy.