Since its 2014 termination, fans of the beloved CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” have longed for an update on the labyrinthine love life of Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor). What’s more — self-proclaimed “2000s kids” never miss an opportunity to pray for the second coming of their quasi-cartoon queen, Lizzie McGuire. Combining these familiar favorites, Hulu’s “How I Met Your Father” had some tough shoes — or rather, red cowboy boots — to fill. With poorly written characters and cliché jokes, this standalone sequel broke its predecessor’s “one rule,” demonstrating that new is, in fact, not always better.
Following a ragtag group of twenty-somethings on their search for soulmates in the Big Apple, the show’s premise mirrors that of “How I Met Your Mother.” Sophie, an enthusiastic blonde photographer played by Hilary Duff, is the series’ main character. Unfortunately, she is equal parts frantic and annoying, spending the first scene of the season fawning over a man named Ian (Daniel Augustin), with whom she recently matched on Tinder. After supposedly falling madly in love over text, she learns of Ian’s plan to move to Australia, just in time for the show to copy the hopeless romantic who obsesses over a doomed relationship trope utilized in “How I Met Your Mother.”
Viewers don’t learn much about Sophie and Ian’s “connection,” aside from the fact that they spend hours texting about basic hobbies and boring first kiss stories. However, audiences do meet the recently engaged Sid (Suraj Sharma) and Hannah (Ashley Reyes), along with a cynical Uber driver named Jesse (Christopher Lowell), Sophie’s zany roommate named Valentina (Francia Raisa) and a lovably stupid British aristocrat named Charlie (Tom Ainsley). Finally, we meet Jesse’s adoptive queer sister, Ellen (Tien Tran), whose tangential relation to the rest of the gang posits that her character was merely created to fill the role of a tokenized gay Asian woman, granting the series a few more “diversity points.”
Outside of their external differences, these characters all act with similar auras of obnoxiousness, reminiscent of those in a Disney Channel original series — a disappointing arena for the “Lizzie McGuire” influence to take hold. These characters are too excited about their lackluster love lives and have no chemistry with one another. Worse than the show’s acting is its repetitive laugh track, which contemporary audiences could do without.
Beyond that, the series’s predictable writing forces foreseeable jokes into characters’ lines at any opportunity. These bad jokes sprawl across so many characters that it becomes difficult to differentiate any one character from the rest; each actor is equally capable of delivering an expected, self-deprecating remark in an attempt to appear #relatable. This writing is so unnatural that viewers can almost envision the script as it’s read aloud, and it’s not a pretty sight.
Not only are these jokes unsurprising, but they’re unoriginal as well. Time and time again, the writers awkwardly maneuver familiar “How I Met Your Mother” bits into the lines of unfamiliar and undeveloped characters who lack the charm, chemistry and authenticity to pull off borrowed content. The show desperately attempts to revitalize its predecessor’s recurring “did not”/“did, too” banter between bros, poking fun at the dirty New York subway and conveniently meeting new friends in a local bar. These plotlines are painful bouts of regurgitation, forcing decrepit remnants of a once divine meal back into an unpleasant reality that benefits no one.
The only commendable feature of “How I Met Your Father” is its diversity. Unlike its prequel, this cast of characters is neither entirely white nor entirely straight — a much more accurate and welcoming depiction of the diversity of New York City. However, much of this diversity comes across as tokenization rather than a legitimate effort on behalf of the industry to be more inclusive. Without these added elements of diversity, “How I Met Your Father” is just “How I Met Your Mother,” but more stale, more boring and exponentially more cringeworthy.
Haaaaave you watched Hulu’s “How I Met Your Father”? If not, don’t waste your time.