Should you give this reboot a shot? Based on the two episodes it premiered with this week, I think there’s enough to make it worth watching. Here’s why…
The opening of HOW I MET YOUR FATHER (HIMYF) immediately took me back to McLaren’s, where we spent so much time with Ted and Robin and Lily and Marshall and Barney in HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (HIMYM). It was a pleasant surprise to find that they decided to use the title theme from the mothership, albeit a different version of it. Yes, it lacks the energy of the original ‘Hey beautiful’ by The Solids, but it still serves as a link to that universe, setting the tone for this reboot. This simple, but effective detail was lacking in other recent revivals/reboots/sequels—GOSSIP GIRL, DEXTER: NEW BLOOD, AND JUST LIKE THAT…
Speaking of which, the missing feature in the SEX AND THE CITY revival, Kim Catrall shows up in HIMYF, in 2050, looking as fabulous as Samantha Jones. It was another pleasant surprise, since we were probably expecting only a voiceover of the actress playing the older Sophie, like the late Bob Saget’s, as the older Ted Mosby. There are probably reasons why they’re not showing us Sophie’s son. But let’s not get into spoiler territory.
The show then takes us into a very different Sophie’s life in the present day. I think they could have done more align the younger and older versions of Sophie, with a few common traits, even if a person can change significantly in 28 years. In 2022, she takes an Uber, on her way to a big date with a Tinder guy that she’s been looking forward to. In the cab, she meets Jesse and Sid—the Uber driver and his best friend—like the start of the great friendship between Robin and the gang in the original series. We subsequently meet the others, Sophie’s best friend and roommate, Valentina; Valentina’s new boyfriend, Charlie; and Jesse’s sister, Ellen. And we see the new McLaren’s—Sid’s bar, Pemberton’s. The showrunners decided against featuring McLaren’s from the original as the new gang’s hangout, so as to differentiate this show, even if they have established a different link with HIMYM. Again, let’s avoid spoilers. Also differentiating this show is the assortment within the group, which naturally reflects 2022. While the original show had all white, heterosexual, cis-gendered people in the main cast, this group is more diverse, including one LGBT person. They’ve also avoided the one jarring element from the original show that has not aged well at all—a Barney Stinson-esque character—which must have been a no-brainer.
It actually works in the reboot’s favor to have some of the soon-to-be-friends just getting to know each other, because the actors don’t seem to have immediate chemistry as one might have hoped, and like we saw in the original. And the stiffness doesn’t seem intentional, as several interactions seem quite strained. It will probably take a few episodes, if not an entire season for them to loosen up and find their grooves with each other. This doesn’t necessarily help the humor in the show at the outset, with some punchlines falling a little flat. Yet, I see potential, even if it’s not instantly captivating beyond the nostalgia factor. There’s a certain honesty in the stories that the show is trying to tell. At the heart of it, it’s being set up as a coming-of-age story of this group of inevitable friends, with a heavy dose of romantic comedy. Moreover, the formulaic format, which goes back to FRIENDS and shows that came before, can work well. And beyond the friends-become-family theme of the show, like the original, it has the hook of how the lead character met the co-parent to their child/ren. There is a bit of a spin on that hook, which keeps things a little fresh, while staying true to the original concept, and also taking the style forward.
The multi-camera sitcom style—‘taped in front of a live studio audience’—has become something of a dying art, and it’s nice to see an attempt at it, even if the laugh track doesn’t seem to be from a live audience. Yet, the familiarity of sets that are very evidently soundstages, and the confinement of the action are quite comforting—something that will be nice to sink into every week, at least for the next eight weeks.
Hopefully there will be more than just the 10 episodes of the first season. It would be unfortunate if they have to rush into revealing who the father is, because a show like this is more about the journey than the destination, especially since it will probably take the entire first season for these characters and actors to really gel. I’m not invested in them yet, but I am looking forward to seeing more of them and how they settle into sweet spots of being more natural with each other. With the small nuggets of information we’ve already received about these characters, the show is being set up to really flesh them out. And I think that will be worth watching. It may not be the next best comedy, but it could definitely become a nice, enjoyable series that’s like comfort food, but hopefully not as predictable.