“How I Met Your Father”: How I Rebooted Your Mother
Eren Levine ʼ24 reviews Hulu’s “How I Met Your Father,” a spin-off series that cleverly integrates elements of the original show, “How I Met Your Mother,” into a unique, enjoyable new comedy.
Last year, I wrote an article about the surge of reboots coming to streaming services, and the trend has not slowed down since then. The most recent addition to the reboot genre is Hulu’s “How I Met Your Father,” a spin-off of the early 2000s sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” Unlike other reboots, this spin-off is not a continuation of the original series featuring the same characters. Instead, it is just the same premise, similar to the HBO Max “Gossip Girl” reboot. Both the original and the new “How I Met Your Mother/Father” recount the story of a parent telling their children how they met the other parent. On one hand, this type of spin-off is even harder to perfect because viewers don’t have the same nostalgia and fondness for the characters. On the other hand, when seeing beloved characters, loyal fans may be preoccupied with how well the original characters are portrayed in the newer version, making “How I Met Your Father’s” spin-off style perhaps easier to succeed with. I began “How I Met Your Father” with skepticism because of how many reboots have let me down over the years, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. I would consider this to be one of the most promising spin-offs I have ever seen.
The unique balance of comedy and drama that “How I Met Your Mother” achieved might seem difficult to match, but “How I Met Your Father” has done a surprisingly good job at it. I find myself invested in the characters and their storylines, while also enjoying the humor of the show. While I haven’t found the spin-off quite as funny as the original, it is not that far off. Unlike many reboots where excessive acting leads to characters I find annoying or unrealistic, I genuinely enjoy the majority of the characters on “How I Met Your Father” — a big plus, since one thing that made “How I Met Your Mother” one of my favorite shows was how much I liked every character. I almost think I like the main character in the reboot, Sophie, better than in that of the original, Ted. Sophie is relatable and kind, without coming across as flat or dull. I also really like Jesse, played by Chris Lowell. He is the stereotypical lovable dork who has gone through deep heartbreak, but his humor and relationships with the other characters are very enjoyable to watch. I think that having actors whom I know and admire from other shows, such as Hilary Duff and Chris Lowell, made becoming invested in the new characters easier.
Because every TV show is unique and therefore hard to recreate, I think reboots struggle when they try to be too similar to the originals. “How I Met Your Father” avoids this pitfall in its sparing and tasteful references to the original. The show does share some similarities to the original, including the aforementioned premise, as well as the frequency of hanging out in a bar and the potential romance between main characters. However, because the characters aren’t incredibly similar to the original’s, the spin-off still feels unique and creative. Perhaps the most notable constant across the two shows is the main apartment where the characters hang out. “How I Met Your Father” notes that the main characters found the apartment on a Facebook group for alumni from their college, implying they bought it directly from the characters in “How I Met Your Mother.” I think this detail cleverly allowed for the nostalgia that people hope for from reboots, as seeing the familiar set affords an additional level of excitement to watching the show.
The choices to make “How I Met Your Father” different from the original are likewise well-executed and add to the show’s individuality. For example, while we have no idea who the mother is in the original, just that she is not a main character, the first episode of the spin-off reveals that someone Sophie met in this episode is the father, but we don’t yet know whom. This suspense makes watching each episode even more enjoyable, as I find myself thinking about who I hope the father is, versus who I think it most likely is. While I am hesitant to suggest watching reboots because of their propensity to let viewers down, I definitely recommend “How I Met Your Father” to any fans of the original and anyone else looking for a lighthearted sitcom.