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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Powers Stengel

How to Feel Bout How I Met Your Father


Spoilers For: Where the writers of AJLT have been keeping Samantha + plot thoughts on HIMYF ep 1 and 2.

So this is where you've been hiding Kim Cattrall. Safely enclosed in a nearish 2050 future. (On a set freshly cleansed of Bob Saget's spirit I hope--too soon?) Ready to tell a familiar and meandering tale no one asked for.

Did you hear me, sweet bastard of a show? No one asked for you to be born!

No one asked for a spinoff/reboot/come on. Why couldn't I get another original comedy about singles living in New York without the ghost of Ted Mosby's corpse bride haunting the production proceedings? It's a world (Including the original apartment set from HIMYM!) we've seen before. But of course I watched that shit--that hot, tropey, adorable, safe, romcom garbage shit in a meta-sitcom frame.

My mother lode of nine mixed messages after meeting the HIMYF daddy:

1. Praise be to Kim.

Kim Cattrall is carrying this show's sloppy narrative structure on her effortlessly charismatic back. She is a winningly believable older Hilary Duff on a tipsy phone call to regale her son with the show's titular premise. The lines are arbitrary and obvious. The narration is smugly idle in pace. This will take a while, with only Kim to keep us sane. Just like Kim's son, we'd rather not listen to all the kinky bits.

2. Everyone is hot and talented.

Let's not get that twisted. Our protagonist New York City photographer Sophie (played in the 2022 timeline by a sparkly Hilary Duff with affable, repressed Mosbian oof) surrounds herself only with gorgeous and engaging people.

3. The heavy-handed laugh track drove me mad.

There's something eerie and not stimulating about a streaming sitcom made in a pandemic with a crowd simulation of chuckles. Comedy in a tin can.

4. All characters suffer from the HIMYM Doppelgänger Mutation Association Game.

Hilary Duff as hapless, hopeful Sophie is a 1-1 Mosby transposition. Enjoy the baby Mosby McGuire image above.

Vibrant Francia Raisa plays Valentina, Sophie's roommate and a Robin-forward hybrid of enigmatic Robin and bold Lily.

Dashing Tom Ainsley is a fusion of brashly confident Barney and insecurely attached Marshall as Valentina's new boyfriend--new to New York and a life without means.

Best quote to illustrate the Marshall-Barney of Charlie? "My charm is all boy, but my body’s all man."

I'm only kind of into it.

Our second crew of homages?

Chris Lowell (best known as Dash from GLOW) is Jesse, a sentimental schmuck of a Mosby-Marshall, an amiable, passive goof-monster of taking things on the chin. He's Sophie's Uber driver on her way to a pivotal pilot Tinder date.

Jesse's best friend Sid is played by the warm and watchable Suraj Sharma. In this show's pilot Sid proposes marriage to a girlfriend with bigger dreams, just like Marshall in our urtext's pilot. Also like Lily, Sid uses cutting but tender asides to call his friends out. I'm here for his brand of sappy incision. More Sid please.

Finally, Jesse's sister is Ellen (played with annoying, bright creativity by Tien Tran) an aggressively Lily-infused cocktail of silly Lilly and willful Lilly with a frank Robin sidecar.

I can't stop playing the association game. Charlie even looks like Neil Patrick Harris, and I hear Cobie Smulders' voice in Valentina. I'm smitten but mostly distracted by these amalgams.

5. The show sells the eternal youth of the pre-marriage friend family, and I'm buying.

6. That stupid oh-so-lightly remixed intro is still so fucking uplifting and catchy.

Actually, the entire score delights.

7. I'm mad about the OG apartment and the swords on the wall.

I don't need to go back to Marshall, Ted, and Lilly's apartment to be happy. I don't need the show's punk-ass excuse that Jesse got a great alumni network deal. And they even left the swords behind! Lame! This desperation is meta-slapping me right out of the fun. Do better, or not at all.

8. "In Loving Memory of Bob Saget" at the start of the pilot's credits broke my heart.

A legend who just leant this show a dash of unearned solemnity.

9. The hijinks are right.

Gang at the club acting up. Gang on the Brooklyn Bridge living their best ritual life. Gang at the bar making new memories and new moves. Fits like a glove. A well-worn and cute glove with a few holes. Still warm.

A cover band best enjoyed with your eyes half-closed, How I Met Your Father played for the fun of the expected. An inviting and easy show. But also, a redundant, slick monster eating itself on the corporate greed of fan service delight. I watched because it was too hypnotically familiar to resist. I criticize it here for the same reason.


If you're gonna use the same structure to poke the same funny bones, you better not serve me the same sort of shit sandwich at the 11th hour. You can regurgitate the dream, but you better not kill it for a second time. Give me something new, fresh, and fun. Avoid the sloppy shortcuts, tortured non-plotting, and sick jokes of your forefather/foremothers. In the name of the Lizzie McGuire, the Samantha Jones, and the Danny Tanner. Amen.

I'm, like, still not over it, guys.

Can HIMYF escape its own comparative lens to be good tv? Or is it doomed to sitcom mediocrity?

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