Tuesday, January 18, 2022

REVIEW: 'How I Met Your Father' - Sophie Details the Story of How She Met Her New Group of Friends in 'Pilot' & 'FOMO'

Hulu's How I Met Your Father - Episodes 1.01 "Pilot" and 1.02 "FOMO"

After a slew of let-down Tinder dates, Sophie meets the seemingly perfect guy. Meanwhile, her roommate, Valentina, returns home from London Fashion Week with a sexy souvenir. An Uber-related phone mishap leads them to an eclectic new group of friends.

"Pilot" was written by Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger, Carter Bays, Craig Thomas & Emily Spivey and directed by Pamela Fryman
"FOMO" was written by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger and directed by Pamela Fryman

Plenty of shows have tried to recreate the success of How I Met Your Mother. That includes the creative team behind the CBS sitcom. It was one of the most innovative comedies from the mid-2000s. It was fundamentally a comedy built around a twist. A man was telling his children the story of how he met their mother. It was a big mystery who she was. But it was also a show about a group of friends at a specific and transformative time in their lives. The series itself also combined the appeal of both a single and multi-camera setup. That too reinvented the format. Many services are still trying to create a broad sitcom hit. It's hard. Audiences expect their shows to be clever at this point in time. Part of that is an extension of the success of How I Met Your Mother. And yet, that cleverness can be the downfall for so many formulas as well. That central dynamic needs to have power and meaning behind it right away. The pilot for How I Met Your Mother famously ended with a twist. The pilot of How I Met Your Father does as well. It's mostly designed in response to the series finale of the former show. How that show concluded showcased the rigidity to a plan. One that was in the works from the very beginning and had to be forced into reality no matter how the series developed after nine years onscreen. That structure may reward a show like this new iteration that has shorter seasons. But this premiere is all about giving the creative team options. In success, it can explore any of the dynamics without feeling beholden to something that was previously suggested. That leaves things open-ended. Any of the guys Sophie hangs out with in the first episode could become the father of her son. This is a story of how they met. It's not when they first started dating. It's not even about them falling in love. More importantly, it's about bringing this collection of characters together. It improves upon the original cast in that it strives for diversity and inclusion. That too must be central to any series when it's being developed and cast. It needs to be done with purpose as well as the respect for telling those different stories. Reverence can be a taming quality though. Part of the appeal from the original show was Neil Patrick Harris as the womanizing Barney Stinson. His comedic identity was present right away. He gave the audience a reason to tune in and laugh. Over time, the character essentially became an unlikable monster who could never ultimately redeem himself onto equal footing with the rest of the gang. In this show, everyone feels too timid and lackluster in terms of really going for the laugh-out-loud moments. It's still important for people to recognize how behavior has changed in 2022. Society has accepted that some things that used to be fine were always horrifying. It's simply not replaced with anything nearly as outrageous or rewarding. It's a show about potential couplings. Some of them are already stated. Sid has a long distance relationship he is committed to. Valentina and Charlie are dating even though they run hot or cold all the time. Sophie and Jesse are given the will-they/won't-they flourishes. These dynamics are meant to be familiar and welcoming to the audience. It ultimately comes across as a story that has already been told before. Even with the freedom that comes from a streaming service, nothing said is more vulgar than what is typically found on a broadcast sitcom. It's a show trying so hard to recreate magic. Even the creative team from the former show want this formula to be replicated. They have tried hard for years. It has finally made it to the screen. However, everything is instantly forgettable. No one has a distinct personality that garners a laugh or intrigue. The second episode is basically just playing out the same conflicts as the first. It's the characters just getting to know each other instead of offering bonds that feel lived in and rewarding. They are learning what makes each other unique and funny. The show has the patience to figure out how to play to the cast's strengths. The audience sadly can't wait around for that potentially better show to emerge. And so, a dull comedy that isn't at least charming makes it easy for the viewer to walk away without getting obsessed over a new mystery that may or may not pay off in the end.