I should start this review off by saying, I am a huge How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) fan; I’ve seen every season of the Emmy-winning sitcom multiple times and regularly quote it in my day-to-day life (“all hail Beercules!”). So when it was first announced that a spinoff called How I Met Your Father (HIMYF) was on its way, I had mixed feelings.
I was excited because, for me at least, there hasn’t really been a new sitcom that’s filled the void How I Met Your Mother left when it ended in 2014. However, I was also very concerned that this spinoff would ruin the original’s legacy.
My excitement grew when Hilary Duff was announced as the lead – I’m a huge Lizzie McGuire fan too – but when dismal reviews for the series started to leak (How I Met Your Father debuted in America three months ago while us Aussies had to wait until now) I realised I was foolish to hope that this standalone sequel would be as good as the series that inspired it.
Last night, I watched the first two episodes of How I Met Your Father that are now available to Australians on Disney+. From the opening credits, I was severely disappointed; sure, the musical tribute was nice (the opening credits have the same song as How I Met Your Mother’s, albeit a cover) but the pictures of the cast shown are so glossy and perfect; nothing like the clearly candid and realistic photos How I Met Your Mother’s opening used.
From there, it all went – further – downhill. I did not laugh once during the first episode and maybe laughed once during the second. The dialogue is not witty or snappy like How I Met Your Mother’s was, the characters aren’t as interesting or loveable, and the actors are all giving over-the-top cheesy (read: horrible) performances…
Which must be what they’ve been told to do because Duff gave an excellent performance in Younger, and Chris Lowell, who plays the male lead in HIMYF, gave a charming and nuanced performance in Veronica Mars, proving that this cast is made up of people who can act well… They’re just not doing it this show.
I do like that HIMYF’s cast is more diverse than How I Met Your Mother’s but it feels a tad performative as each actor is almost playing a caricature; Ellen, played by Tien Tran, mentions she’s a lesbian in the first two episodes SO many times – something a real-life lesbian would never nor need to do.
Plus, there’s no ‘magic’ chemistry. How I Met Your Mother at the end of the day was a show about romance; all Ted wanted was to find love, and not even Robin and Barney shippers can deny that Ted, played by Josh Radnor, and Robin, played by Cobie Smulders, had magnetic and palpable chemistry in the OG’s pilot and you desperately rooted for them to get together throughout all of How I Met Your Mother’s first season.
However, in HIMYF, Duff and Lowell, who are obviously supposed to be the ‘Ted and Robin’ this time around, have no connection or spark. There’s also no Marshall Eriksen replacement – who I’ve been in love with since I first saw the HIMYM pilot in 2005 – there’s no sweet, cool and slightly oddball member of the gang that’s as likeable as Marshall, nor is there a comic relief, like Barney.
I wasn’t expecting HIMYF to have a ‘womaniser’ as some of Barney’s antics from the original show are understandably now criticised but he did have some hilarious and iconic one-liners such as “It’s going to be legen – wait for it, and I hope you’re not lactose intolerant because the second half of that word is – dary!” but no one in this spinoff has said anything remotely funny or iconic.
I even tried to stop comparing HIMYF to How I Met Your Mother whilst watching to see if that improved the quality, but it didn’t. The show is just flat with boring (and some annoying) characters and no clear central romance. Plus, despite the fact that it’s a sitcom, How I Met Your Father is not funny in the slightest; I am actually suspicious that the show’s laugh-track is fake or there were signs insisting that audience members must laugh.
If you’re a How I Met Your Mother fan like me, do not even bother watching this spinoff series. I honestly don’t think I’ll finish the rest of How I Met Your Father’s first season as I’m really not invested in any of the characters or the plot; I mean, the show already gave away that ‘the father’ was in the first episode which means it’s one of four men.
And if you’re not a How I Met Your Mother fan, you still shouldn’t watch HIMYF; go watch the original – also available on Disney+ – instead. Oh, and if I had to give a score, well then How I Met Your Father is maybe a 2/10 (points for the fact that Ted’s old apartment is in the show and his and Marshall’s swords are still on the wall).