On Tuesday, the executive producers and stars of How I Met Your Father gathered for a virtual TCA panel teasing the Hulu series’ January 18 debut—noting that the series stemming from beloved CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother is not a reboot, as it has sometimes been described.
Per writer, EP and showrunner Isaac Aptaker of This Is Us fame, the new series is in fact a “standalone sequel,” with plenty to offer to both diehard fans of How I Met Your Mother and those who have never seen it.
“I think it’s important to know that we are our own show,” said the show’s star, Hilary Duff. “The original show was so amazing, [but we’re] trying to create something original, [while] stealing a few things from them that worked really well.”
“How I Met Your Father is so spectacular in its own right,” added director-EP Pam Fryman, who was also involved with How I Met Your Mother. “From the first day on stage with masks on, we started rehearsing and instantly knew we had something.”
The upcoming series produced by 20th Television is set in the near future, watching as Sophie (Duff) tells her son the story of how she met his father: a story that catapults us back to the year 2021, where Sophie and her close-knit group of friends are in the midst of figuring out who they are, what they want out of life, and how to fall in love in the age of dating apps and limitless options. Others taking part in today’s panel included cast members Christopher Lowell, Francia Raisa, Tom Ainsley, Tien Tran and Suraj Sharma, and writer-EP-showrunner Elizabeth Berger.
Duff described How I Met Your Father as a “feel-good show” that’s “funny,” “real,” and full of “tug-on-the-heartstrings moments,” with Aptaker and Berger discussing how the new show will pay tribute to the original. The former said that there will be “lots of little rewards for people who loved the original if they stick with us,” with Berger also hinting at exciting throwback elements “peppered throughout” the first season.
Aptaker noted that he and Berger actually wrote the pilot for How I Met Your Father prior to joining This Is Us as writers, EPs and co-showrunners, putting the project “on pause” after NBC’s family drama “exploded.” They would circle back to it while completing work on This Is Us‘ final season, which is currently airing weekly, and found that it came together “faster” than they ever could have expected.
“We really did not want to do this one until we could really do it right and give it our all,” said Berger. “So, the timing felt so right.”
Duff also addressed her draw to the “extremely relatable” new series and its lead character of Sophie—to whom she was drawn, in spite of the fact that she is at “a totally different place” in her life. Other topics up for discussion included cast chemistry and the fact that Fryman was the only creative involved with the project who had previously navigated the world of multi-camera TV.
“She really was so incredible in teaching all of us this format that is incredibly different from movies and from single-cam,” said Aptaker.
“It is not exaggeration to say we could not have done this without Pam Fryman,” added Berger. “The way she leads with warmth and grace and brilliance, and makes it look effortless, what a gift it was for all of us.”
In the end, Duff says, How I Met Your Father is a show not only about the pursuit of love, and all of the hurdles that come with it, but also about friendship. Her hope, for viewers relating to Sophie’s struggles, is that they’ll realize they’re “not alone.”
Actors recurring in How I Met Your Father‘s first season include Kim Cattrall, Daniel Augustin, Ashley Reyes and Josh Peck. Duff is producing the Hulu Original, with How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas exec producing alongside Aptaker, Berger, Fryman and Love, Victor‘s Adam Londy.