“How I Met Your Dad” vs. “How I Met Your Father”

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Talk has started up again about a How I Met Your Mother spin-off show set from a female perspective, but this time the proposed show is How I Met Your Father instead of How I Met Your Dad. It gets a little confusing, so I’m going to backtrack a bit first.

Back in 2014, How I Met Your Mother was dying, slowly and painfully. The show’s creators decided to extend the entire last season over the course of one wedding weekend, and the end result was a drawn out mess of a series finale. The final episodes revealed the the long-awaited mother to be a true delight – a delight that was killed off unceremoniously. Then Ted was paired back up with Robin, and the show ended on what felt like a very self satisfied note. Fans, meanwhile, felt misled and betrayed. Even those that supported the Ted and Robin endgame expressed concerns about how sloppy the entire last season was. The writers did keep How I Met Your Mother aligned with its inspiration, Love in the Time of Cholera, until the very end. But there were tons of continuity errors, some poor choices in dialogue and plot that were deemed to be racist, misogynistic, and fat-phobic, and an overall sense of desperation that made the show downright uncomfortable to watch at times. Plus, let’s be honest, the show quality had been declining for a while regardless. 

Anyway, I believe we were right in the middle of that ill fated final season when they started teasing How I Met Your Dad. HIMYM writers Craig Thomas and Carter Bays joined with Emily Spivey and created a pilot script, but it was dropped back in January of 2014. It wasn’t ever going to be the story of how Tracy met Ted, but rather a similar story of how a woman met her husband/the father of her children. Greta Gerwig was to play Sally, the Ted equivalent female main character, and Meg Ryan was going to be the older voice narrating. I guess CBS wasn’t hugely excited about the cast, chemistry, or similarity to the original HIMYM concept. As How I Met Your Mother closed out, the critiques on social media were largely negative. Many fans, myself included, expressed a lack of confidence in another Carter/Bays production. Why should we devote more years of our TV watching lives to a show that would ultimately disappoint us? 

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So HIMYD was shelved, and we didn’t hear much about it again until April of 2016. That’s when the How I Met Your Dad pilot episode script was released online. I admit that I approached it with a fair degree of bias. I didn’t want to like it at all, and expected it to be trite and unoriginal. I gave it a shot, though, and found that it did have some redeeming qualities. The character of Juliet (Sally’s wild best friend – the Barney) had some funny moments, and the Frank character (Robin equivalent) actually made me laugh out loud. But in the pilot, Sally and Frank are set up on a date together. They have great chemistry, but Sally overshares and runs away. Later they decide to be friends, and the episode closes with “And that, kids, is the story of how I met your Uncle Frank”. 

Sooo I guess the presumption was that we would spend X number of seasons waiting to find out if they repeated their original plot twist and made Frank/Robin the actual OTP (one true pairing), or did a different twist and left them as friends. Either way I am frankly not interested. There was also the tricky issue of Sally being pretty unlikeable. Maybe Greta Gerwig could have brought some sincerity to the role, but on paper Sally is unpleasant and annoying. When I think about HIMYD, the one word that comes to mind is “unnecessary”. There are a bunch of reasons why the show didn’t air – this article from Looper, called Why we never got to see How I Met Your Dad, details them really well. But ultimately that show was dead, and I wasn’t expecting to hear much else from Carter and Bays.

Last month, however, brought the unexpected news that a new dad themed How I Met Your Mother spinoff was in the works. This project, called How I Met Your Father (HIMYF), is being written by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger. They are co-executive producers of This Is Us, which is one of the top rated and most popular new shows of 2016. There’s no word yet on any actors or characters, but it bears repeating that this show will NOT be the story of how Tracy met Ted, or the story of any other HIMYM character. It will be told using similar narrative devices, and the rest remains to be seen. CBS has expressed interest in it; their entertainment president, Glenn Geller, said “We haven’t seen anything, we haven’t been pitched anything…I’m excited to read it when it’s finished, and it could potentially be a project for us.”

So what do you think? I have yet to watch This Is Us, but I’m only avoiding it because I’m expecting it to make me cry a lot. I haven’t been up for that these days, but I’m looking forward to watching it sometime soon. If it’s as good as everyone says, I will be more than open to their take on the HIMYM show concept. I wouldn’t have watched How I Met Your Dad, but How I Met Your Father might be worthwhile. I’ll update here with more news on the show if or when it comes out!

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