The father isn’t the only thing being kept secret in the Hilary Duff-led Hulu series as Kim Cattrall begins to tell the titular story.
Can Hulu strike the same kind of cultural zeitgeist that CBS did with its sort-of-a-sequel series, “How I Met Your Father”? With Hilary Duff taking over in the lead, they at least got a Josh Radnor lookalike as one of the potential fathers.
Like “How I Met Your Mother,” the conceit of this series is the main character telling their children — or in this case, child — the story of how they met the other parent. The late Bob Saget gave his “HIMYM” performance as a voiceover to a shot of the two teenagers looking bored over nearly a decade.
“HIMYF” is flipping that script by putting the camera on Kim Cattrall as the older version of Duff’s Sophie, telling the story via video phone in the year 2050. There is a practical reason to do this, though. As “HIMYF” is already way more culturally diverse than “HIMYM,” there’s a chance Sophie’s son isn’t lily white.
By keeping the son’s appearance a secret, producers are able to keep that potential spoiler-y detail in their pocket. They also get to take advantage of Cattrall clearly having a lot of fun curling up on the couch with a glass of win and going all TMI with her son about her more hedonistic years.
The pilot episode (Hulu dropped the first two episodes together on Tuesday) did the heavy lifting of introducing the cast, explaining how they know each other and setting up the overarching premise of the show.
Cattrall had a key line in the second episode for fans who, like her son, want to know the answer. “This story is about the journey, not the destination,” she told him before sliding back into TMI territory. “I’m gonna get with a whole bunch of dudes before I wind up with Dad.”
That means every relationship and hookup will leave fans wondering if this is the one that leads to a child, or if it’s just another of that “bunch of dudes.” “HIMYM” frustrated a lot of fans with its ending, so this message is also kind of a statement for them to maybe lighten up a bit and appreciate that nine season journey.
That’s not to say that fans shouldn’t be paying attention to all those little details that could become recurring elements to the show — a staple of the original — a well as tantalizing teases as to which of these guys could be the father.
We say these guys, because on the surface it appears that Sophie has already narrowed it way down to either our three main male characters, or Tinder date Ian (Daniel Augustin) that could have been the perfect guy, only he was about to move to Australia.
That dude stays in the picture thanks to modern technology, sharing texts with Sophie and setting up one of the potential recurring elements of the show. He’s a recurring character, too, so we’re surely not done with him. But is he the father?
The other three candidates are the Uber driver she meets at the top of the episode Jesse (Christopher Lowell), his best friend Sid (Suraj Sharma) and her roommate’s unexpected new boyfriend from across the pond, Charlie (Tom Ainsley).
Jesse is the likeliest candidate, though it might be too obvious. Not only are they nearly set up in the second episode on a date, but they are polar opposites in the way Nick and Jess were on “New Girl” and they even have the same pick-me-up song, “Drops of Jupiter.”
Sid seems the furthest possibility, as he got engaged in the premiere. But his new fiancée immediately packed up and headed to Los Angeles for a heart transplant, which isn’t the most ideal situation for a relationship. We’ve got little else to go on about them, though, so maybe it’s normal.
Charlie is a newcomer to New York and the U.S., having followed Sophie’s roommate Valentina (Francia Raisa) back for love. He’s a rich, pampered aristocrat who’s been cut off. Cue all the most obvious jokes. Val is already ready to break up with him, so anything is possible.
There’s also the wiggle room that she told her son she met the father that night, but as we saw on “HIMYM,” a lot can happen in a night, and there are a lot of people she could have met, so maybe it’s none of them.
There’s also the added detail that Cattrall is not wearing a wedding ring, which seems to be a very pointed way of preparing fans for her not still being with the father, per se, and expanding fan expectations. She doesn’t have to even marry the guy, just get pregnant with his kid and keep it.
That same night, though, is when she met the majority of what will become her “family” as this show progresses. Unlike the parent series, this wasn’t remotely an existing friend group when the show began.
Sophie and Val are best friends and roommates. Jesse and Sid are roommates and best friends, too. Charlie followed Valentina back to New York, and our other lead, Ellen (Tien Tran), is Jesse’s adopted sister who just moved to New York from Iowa after a messy divorce.
Relationship messes seem to be the common thread, too, with Ellen post-divorce, Jesse post-viral proposal rejection (we see you, Leighton Meester!), Sid newly-engaged, Valentina and Charlie struggling together and Sophie perpetually seeking love.
There’s also an unexpected connection to the parent series, as well as a passing mention of two of its main characters. At the close of the episode, after Sid’s fiancee ditched him to run to Los Angeles, he invited the gang back to his apartment with Jesse — and it’s the apartment … as in Ted’s apartment.
“It was a total score,” they told their new friends. “We got it from this old married couple who posted it on the Wesleyan Alumni Group. We even got them to leave their swords.” That’s right, the iconic swords are still hanging over the fireplace.
While that opens the door for a visit to MacLaren’s downstairs, there’s a new hangout established right away. Sid is an entrepreneur and new business owner, having opened his own bar. It’s a nice twist to just hanging out at a bar with that added element of ownership.
It’s good that Hulu gave fans a double does of “HIMYF” for its launch, because the show really starts to find its rhythm in the second episode. The personalities of the cast start to shine through a lot better, and the chemistry between them is stronger already in that second half hour.
We’re not yet ready to say that they’ll become as iconic a cast as the original “HIMYM,” but we appreciate the care that’s gone into making each of them distinct and different enough from the “HIMYM” cast in relationships and personalities — though we still say Christopher Lowell looks eerily like Josh Radnor in some scenes.
We also appreciate what looks like the genesis of several recurring elements, beyond “Drops of Jupiter” and the charming selfie Momoa game, where you share selfies of yourself with Momoa lookalikes. That’s the kind of thing that could gain traction in the real world.
Other potential recurring elements are the fact that Valentina makes coffee so terrible that the girls spit it out (but still let her make it?) before buying cups, a game called Drunk Face Jenga they played in the boy’s apartment, which looked like Jenga without hands, and Sophie literally freezing under pressure. Some or all of them would be fun to revisit. Fans enjoyed the recurring gags of “HIMYM” almost as much as the series — and mostly better than the finale!
“How I Met Your Father” continues to tell its tale with new episodes every Tuesday.