How I Met Your Father is a spin-off of the popular sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. While the original series is criticized because several jokes did not age well, its non-inclusivity, and other similar ‘sociological’ factors (if I say so), it was however never boring.
Coming to 2022, the spin-off of the popular 2004 sitcom may have avoided allegations like non-inclusivity and political incorrectness, but it fails in the most important sector: plot development.
How I Met Your Father season 2 is nearing its end, and there’s a high chance of the series being renewed for season 3 since the story’s main purpose, which is discovering the father’s identity, remains untapped.
While I’ve personally liked several episodes of both seasons and found them quite funny, I have one major complaint about the series: the series is not going anywhere with the plot.
1. The Problem with How I Met Your Father
The major issue with How I Met Your Father is its lack of direction. Neither the characters nor the writers know where they are going or what they’re up to. While one episode features the gang following a no-phones policy, the other episode is completely unrelated, featuring Val’s fling with her accidental fiancé, Swish.
It is true that most sitcoms do not have any such linear plot progress and are mostly well-regarded for their repeat value and standalone episode premises. But there’s still some sort of growth or character development within the characters and some changes in their life. In HIMYF, this growth seems absent.
The most important development in season 2 is Sophie meeting her father for the first time. I had a lot of expectations from this track. I wanted to see how Sophie found her dad, how she was feeling about this, how she came to terms with it, how she bonds with her dad, and a lot more.
Unfortunately, the series decided to crump it all up in one episode. Only if looking for someone was SO easy when you’ve little to no information about them. Nothing changed about Sophie’s life, and the next episode was again back to being fillers.
Jesse and Sophie’s track has also had very little progress. The two still seem to have strong feelings for each other but keep dating other people and do nothing about their feelings. Yes, we’re used to this slow-burn trope, but it needs to go somewhere!
2. The ‘Sitcom’ Way: Where How I Met Your Father Stands
If you’re still reading, you must be wondering why I am talking about this, as this is how all sitcoms are. It is true. Sitcoms do not have some massive progress every season. It’s How I Met Your Father, not Breaking Bad!
As someone who loves sitcoms as much as I do, I am aware of that. Yet, character growth, I believe, is a part of every good sitcom, especially something like HIMYF – which is supposed to be telling a story and taking us closer to the main conflict of how the narrator met the titular ‘father.’
In this regard, HIMYF has narrowed the number of candidates in the first episode. But we do not get enough clues about it or even hear much about it.
For context, in How I Met Your Mother, Ted and Robin were already dating in season 2, and Marshall and Lily were married. By season 3, the series had already established the yellow umbrella theory.
There was some progress since Robin realized the problems in their relationship, Lily decided to get back with Marshall, Ted decided to switch careers mid-series, and Barney decided to give a shot to a serious relationship.
In contrast, in two seasons, all we know about the father is that there are a few names, and it is someone among them. Sophie’s discovery of her father makes no difference to anything and is treated like a random side arc.
Sid and Hannah were having some troubles in their marriage due to the LDR, which, too, is half-explored and resolved too quickly to have any impact. At least Ross and Rachel’s fights lasted two-three episodes.
Ellen’s break up with Rachel, too, is not made into a big deal, and there’s no impact. We only see Jesse and Sophie changing partners, Val and Charlie giving sad glances, and the show giving us filler episodes where things happen just for the sake of it.
3. The Lack of Iconic Characters
Perhaps, How I Met Your Father suffers from the lack of iconic characters in the series. Don’t get me wrong. I love Val, Jesse, Charlie and Ellen. Some of the fun things the episodes feature are amazing to watch.
But they are way less impactful than other iconic sitcom characters such as Phoebe Buffay, Barney Stinson, Michael Scott or Rachel Green. Comparing anything with FRIENDS is illegal, so I will stop there, but you get what I mean.
My point stands even if we consider recent additions such as Amy Santiago from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Haley Dunphy from Modern Family, or Alexis and David Rose from Schitts Creek.
It’s not that the show lacks potential since it has characters as funny as Ellen and as interesting and quirky as Valentina. But the show doesn’t do much with them. Characters aren’t iconic on paper; good performances and good writing make them what they are.
The advantage of having such iconic characters is that they make a series extra fun to watch and increase its repeat value. Admit it, we’ve all rewatched certain episodes of HIMYM for solely Barney or some iconic FRIENDS episodes, only for how iconic Joey or Phoebe makes it.
Perhaps HIMYF seems a little tiresome for this reason. But that does not change the fact that the show should move forward with the story, and something significant should happen.
4. The HIMYF Problem: What is the Solution?
The only way HIMYF can turn this around is by improving the writing. I don’t know whether they are saving everything for future seasons, but there should be significant changes in the lives of the characters.
Shows which do not have some clear-cut plot hold onto their audience because new things happen, and characters make different decisions. So, the writers need to step up and give these characters some sort of growth or change.
Sophie needs to get into a serious relationship. I would even be open to the idea of confusing the viewers even more by introducing more characters whom Sophie may have met at Sid and Hannah’s engagement party.
Ian seems to be the only candidate who qualifies as the father as of now. I liked how they introduced Drew and got us all thinking back in season 1.
If it’s so easy to figure out who the father is, the show might lose popularity. We all watched HIMYM intently to know who the ‘mother’ was, and Ted never failed to drop hints about it. The curiosity was intact till the very end. HIMYF might be failing to do that too.
Jesse needs to step up, and Sophie and he need to start dating, as we all know it’s inevitable. We can explore their problems, why they eventually break up (as there are high chances that he is not the father), and everything in between. I would also like to see what’s up with Val and where they go with her character.
In short, there’s a lot they can do. I hope they do it quickly.
5. The Other Side of the Story
Now that I am done complaining, let’s talk about the other side too. While I do feel the show should pull up its socks and move forward a little quicker, it’s hard to deny that all sitcoms, to an extent, are this way.
There are a number of episodes in FRIENDS and How I Met Your Mother that do not contribute anything to the story and are just meant for fun. One of the most popular episodes of FRIENDS, “The One Where No One’s Ready,” is of a similar type.
HIMYM also followed the same rule book and had many episodes that had nothing to do with the actual plot. How I Met Your Father is not doing something completely alien. Moreover, it will be wrong to say there has been no significant event since we witnessed Sophie discovering her father this season.
I feel they could have dealt with it better, but it was nevertheless a part of the story. There’s also the realization within Sophie that she has been single for long, and all her exes have moved on. Perhaps the makers are trying to build up something here.
We also see Sid and Hannah confronting each other about their issues, such as discussing whether they should shift to LA or New York. So, it is not like there’s no progress. I just hope things were a little more prominent and moved faster.
Either way, as long as you enjoy it, it should all be good!
6. About How I Met Your Father
How I Met Your Father (HIMYF) is a spinoff series of the incredibly successful CBS show, How I Met Your Mother. The original show ran for nine seasons, from 2005 to 2014, quickly making its mark with a dedicated cult-like fanbase.
HIMYF was announced to start production in April 2021 with the Lizzy McGuire star Hilary Duff playing the lead called Sophie, narrating her journey to her children in the future.
The show’s flashbacks will start from Sophie and her close friends navigating love, life and struggles in the modern era of dating, paying bills and more, in 2021.
Created by writers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger of This Is Us fame and directed by the original show’s director, Pamela Fryman, the first season of HIMYF is revealed to have 10 episodes. No further details have yet been released.