Yes, "How I Met Your Father" Is Better Than the Original
The year 2005 gave us Ted Mosby, Marshall Eriksen, Lily Aldrin, Barney Stinson, and Robin Scherbatsky sipping warm beer at a booth in MacLaren's pub every weekday night. But 2022 has pushed the "How I Met Your Mother" crew through a time-warping revolving door and gave us a reboot with the potential to — wait for it — outdo the original.
"How I Met Your Father," which premiered on Jan. 18, stars Hilary Duff, Francia Raisa, Chris Lowell, Suraj Sharma, and Tien Tran as friends struggling to find love and happiness in New York City. Like Ted Mosby before her, Duff's character, Sophie, is a hopeless romantic who doesn't have the best luck when it comes to dating (e.g., her Tinder match moves to Australia the same night they met). Sophie also has a quirky group of friends — including Jesse (Lowell) and Sid (Sharma), who live in Ted and Marshall's old apartment — to help pick her up when she's down and zigzag across the streets of NYC with her when her plans inevitably fall through. The crew even hang out at their own version of MacLaren's pub, aka Sid's bar.
When I first watched "How I Met Your Mother," I was just starting out in a new city, at a new school, trying to get my bearings, and Ted's awkward dating blunders and Robin's struggles with work and interpersonal relationship were comforting reminders that it's OK to be a little all over the place. I experienced visceral joy the first time I watched Robin sing "Let's Go to the Mall" as her alter ego, Robin Sparkles. And as Marshall and Ted encounter awkward roommate experiences, I did, too.
So "How I Met Your Father" had to be just as heartwarming and relatable, right? In its own way, it might even be better.
Differences Between the Reboot and the Original
Like any reboot, there are tiny differences in "How I Met Your Father" that call back to the original storyline and make us feel nostalgic all over again. Instead of a yellow umbrella, Sophie has a phone charger and the memory of a momentous Uber ride to associate with the night she met her future husband. Here, Tinder conversations are just as important as phone numbers scribbled messily on sweaty palms in bars, but grand gestures of romance — like Ted stealing the blue French horn for Robin or Sophie chasing her date through an airport — still play a central role in the way both leads approach love.
As viewers, we see future Sophie (Kim Cattrall) in her high-tech home, sipping wine and laughing about her late 20s as her son, hidden from view, listens awkwardly on a screen. "How I Met Your Mother" never gave us a glimpse at future Ted, voiced by the late Bob Saget, instead focusing on his kids, Penny (Lyndsy Fonseca) and Luke (David Henrie). The swap in perspective is subtle but plays a key role in keeping the mystery of Sophie's future husband alive, giving us no hints about her son's name or appearance.
The Way "How I Met Your Father" Addresses Gender Roles
Unlike the original series, the lead protagonist in the reboot is a woman, which seems like a small detail on the surface but makes all the difference in the way dating and relationships are portrayed on screen. Most of the women Ted dates on "How I Met Your Mother" are interchangeable, save for the color of their hair and whatever superficial moniker he happens to associate them with forever. But because the storylines in "How I Met Your Father" are told with a strong emphasis on Sophie's perspective as a woman, this means less stigma against women being perceived as "overly sexual" and fewer women characters that could be easily swapped out with sexy lamps (Ted's endless dates).
For all nine seasons of buildup it took to reveal Ted's wife, Tracy, aka the titular mother, Cristin Milioti only appeared in eight episodes. It was like taking a seemingly endless road trip with "500 Miles" playing on repeat and being robbed of the last sip of Tantrum as you finally start to see exit signs. Naturally, I watched the entire series at least two more times to cope.
The fact that "How I Met Your Father" eliminates the idea that there has to be a womanizing character on a show about dating is highly refreshing.
The times when Lily and Robin are the focus of a storyline were some of my favorites because they shed a light on their careers, worries, and experiences as women trying to make it on their own. But for every heartwarming breakthrough Robin has about herself, there's always a scene where Barney makes a gross attempt to seduce a woman — who's either rightly offended or mindlessly enticed by his charm — to spoil the magic.
Don't get me wrong — Barney has some of the funniest lines on the show, and his character development throughout the series is impressive. But the fact that "How I Met Your Father" eliminates the idea that there has to be a womanizing character on a show about dating is highly refreshing. Sure, Charlie is billed as the hot English guy who has no problem flirting with women, but it's not his entire personality. In fact, he's the one who suggests to Valentina that they take their relationship more seriously. In other words, he's presented as a real person with feelings and desires beyond sex, something the original could've stood to do more of with Barney.
Why Ellen Is Such an Important Character in "How I Met Your Father"
Within the immediate friend group, Jesse's younger sister, Ellen (Tran), is also a huge influence on the dynamic of the show. Ellen is openly a lesbian whose mostly fruitless quests for a relationship are just as important as everyone else's in the group. For dedicated fans, the need for LGBTQ+ characters like Ellen was always there, but that desire took a backseat — usually as the butt of a joke (see: the Robin and Lily kiss scene) — to the heterosexual relationships in the original. Fewer than five episodes into "How I Met Your Father," the show has already demonstrated that queer characters will not be forgotten in this saga or romantic mishaps, a huge win for casual viewers and longtime fans alike.
Is "How I Met Your Father" Better Than "How I Met Your Mother"?
Like the original series, "How I Met Your Father" is led by a dysfunctional group of friends who are willing to support each other through thick and thin. But the reboot makes an important distinction between the type of 30-somethings on the dating scene today and those from 2005.
"The world has changed so dramatically since 2005," Tom Ainsley told Screen Rant shortly after the series premiere. "We're telling a story about love. We're telling a story about dating. And the world of dating has moved on, and we needed a show that reflected that. It needed to reflect the difficulties of dating online, the challenges, and the benefits of it as well, I suppose. But yeah, I think the world moved on. And so, we have to reflect that."
Building off the best parts of the source material, the "How I Met Your Mother" reboot beautifully weaves in a modern perspective that makes the show feel more in tune with the modern zeitgeist and reinvigorates us with that hope that romance is out there.
New episodes of "How I Met Your Father" premiere every Tuesday on Hulu, and I will definitely be tuning in to hear all about Sophie's relatable attempts at finding her one true love.