Familiar setup, not so much chemistry

It’s time for another single New Yorker looking for love to embark on an epic journey to meet the co-parent of their future offspring. Yes, How I met your father is finally here and I already hate having to compare it to its predecessor How I met your mother because the show is clearly trying to be its own thing; any direct references – which are few and far between – feel obligatory and do not focus on for very long.

The problem is that alone by its title, How I met your father comes pre-packaged with a set of expectations. It retains the frame device (though updates it to video call format and happily upgrades the child’s age so the talk of sexual escapades is less awkward) and mystery about who the “Father” ends up being. The said mystery is somewhat inverted compared to the original show, but whether it ends up helping the show stand out or limit its possibilities is still unknown.

But I go ahead of myself. How I met your father Hilary Duff stars as Sophie, a single woman living in New York who has been on dozens of first dates in a short time and is still waiting for a real connection with someone. The first episode sees the rest of the cast come together to form this show’s version of “the group”.

This is where the problems come from. Maybe it’s because most of these characters do not know each other before the events of the first episode, but the group feels more fragmented than cohesive. The best chemistry on screen is between Duff and Chris Lowell, who plays Jesse, who has a good relationship and is credible as fast friends as a result. Their conversations and interactions feel natural, while quite a few others in these first two episodes feel compelled. So far, the rest of the cast (with the possible exception of Francia Raisa as Sophie’s best friend Valentina) simply does not have the natural chemistry that is the epitome of the core buddy group on a sitcom and just seems in a way thrown together.

Of the first few episodes of the series, the second is the better of the two, as it does not have the burden of performing the heavy lifting necessary to introduce the characters and just lets them have fun in a club aptly named FOMO (which is appropriate since I actually got FOMO from watching because of the pandemic). It also gives the show what it looks like it could be its first running gag sitcoms like the original How I met your mother is so known for.

However, there is not that breakout character for the audience to cling to, and the twist at the end of the first episode, though enticing, is likely to become annoying later on for the sake of keeping the mystery of the titular father alive.

How I met your father is a show that, if allowed to stand on its own, could potentially grow into something pretty decent, if not particularly amazing. Unfortunately, it will be forced to live in the shadow of its predecessor, and so far this sequel does not have any hooks that are as strong as the many the original did from the start. It will be a tough act to follow, and at this point, HIMYF does not quite work for the task.

SCORE: 6/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 corresponds to “Decent”. It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience

Disclosure: The critic saw screeners for ComingSoon’s How I met your father review.

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