Tuned In

Please Do Not Make a How I Met Your Mother Spinoff

Cloning the show--reportedly, in the form of "How I Met Your Father"--would be exactly the opposite of what made HIMYM special: doing something new.

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Cliff Lipson / CBS

How I Met Your Mother

One of the greatest ingenuities of How I Met Your Mother has always been its ability to defy the march of time. It’s flashed back, flashed forward, and stopped time; it’s made episodes with intricately intersecting simultaneous storylines; and it’s kept Ted’s two future kids in a state of suspended animation for nine years. For its last season, it has slowed time to a crawl, putting off its resolution Zeno’s-Paradox-style, setting its entire final run during the wedding festivities where Ted will finally meet The Mom. If HIMYM were not agreed to go off the air, I would not be surprised to find a tenth season set in the three seconds in which Ted turns around and finally sees his future bride.

Now the creators of HIMYM and CBS are exploring a way to prolong the show, or at least its universe, even longer: there are reportedly talks about a spinoff, with different characters but set in some of the same locations, to be called–wait for it!–How I Met Your Father.

Don’t. Please, please don’t.

I know, I know, it’s fish-in-a-barrel to say that a spinoff of anything is a terrible idea. I know that it’s all about execution, that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas are imaginative writers–as is Emily Spivey, who would join them for the project.

And I know that we’re not talking about Joey here (or for that matter Frasier), in which a single character from a popular show sticks around after the party’s over. Rather, we’re talking about essentially spinning off a show’s concept and applying it to a new, hopefully fresh, set of characters. (Then again, what are the precedents for that kind of approach? That ’80s Show? Not exactly more encouraging.)

What the idea sounds like, frankly, is less a spinoff than plain old unimaginative development–let’s do another version of something that’s worked before!–dressed up as a new concept. I get the appeal: CBS is still doing well in the ratings overall, but its Monday comedies have been struggling, and HIMYM is the strongest of the bunch. Creatively, though, it’s been running on fumes for a few seasons.

But when I say that HIMYF is a terrible idea, I say it out of love, not hate. I wouldn’t bother writing at all about the idea of spinning off a sitcom I didn’t care about. A spinoff is musguided not because of what’s bad about HIMYM but because of what is, or was, distinctively, lovably good about it.

At its best, HIMYM took risks. It laid down a challenge by embedding a mystery in its very title, and ending the pilot by telling us that the love story we thought we were watching–between Ted and Robin–was not the one we’d end up with. It borrowed the time-jumping, expectations-defying non-linear format of adventurous dramas like Lost and applied them to a sitcom format. It was funny and well-written and performed by a whip-smart cast playing characters invested with heart–but above all, it was new.

A How I Met Your Father spinoff–however much talent is attached, in front of or behind the camera–can never be that. HIMYM upended its audience’s expectations and surprised us; a clone, by definition, would be the opposite of that. (Even the gender switch to HIMYF would probably be less interesting: centering the original show on a man pining to get married and settle down upended decades of romantic-comedy clichés about women trying to snag a mate and men running from domesticity.)

As a longtime fan, I can understand the appeal of a sequel, not just commercially. But if Carter and Bays and CBS really want to reproduce HIMYM’s magic a second time, it won’t be by keeping the same format or putting new characters in the same bar. It will be by doing, one more time, what HIMYM did: showing us something we haven’t seen before.

10 comments
xan
xan

Frasier is an amazing as Hell show, for one.

Secondly, why would they do How I Met Your Father? Get rid of Marshall & Lily since he doesn't want to do the show any more. Do a show starting Ted, his wife, Robin, and Barney. Call it Why I Loved Your Mother. Have it told by him as a really old man to his grand children.

You're welcome.

kristypatullo
kristypatullo

Did you just compare Frasier to Joey? Frasier is a classic. Much better than Cheers, IMHO. Not comparable. As for HIMYF, not a great idea. The last couple of seasons of HIMYM have been below par, to say the least. These guys really need to move on.

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

"One of the greatest ingenuities of How I Met Your Mother has always been its ability to defy the march of time. It’s flashed back, flashed forward, and stopped time;"

right, because no TV program ever used those devices before HIMYM. is it really that difficult to find a critic on here with a functional brain?


graemeedgeler
graemeedgeler

Got to be be more examples than that.

Does something like Saved By the Bell: The New Class, count? Or Star Trek: The Next Generation?

Do complete cast changes, such as happened happened in the British version of Skins, count? Or near complete changes such as the second and following seasons of Charles in Charge, where the house and main character stayed the same, but the family moved out? How about 'spiritual successors", like The Pacific as a Band of Brother's spin-off?

What's the defining feature here? If you're talking about a spin-off that occurs at the same time as the original, well, I think there's an episode of Angel told that tells one story from a different perspective to Buffy, but you might be right (Lion King 1.5 not counting :-)

Poppersci
Poppersci

I don't watch the show, but recently I heard from TV critic Dan Fienberg that it has misogyny issues. Is this true?

AlexCruz
AlexCruz

I quit watching the show in season 6 ..too much drama for a comedy

SamLu
SamLu

this show jumped the shark when barney started  hitting on robin.  C'mon!  Especially with Barney's Bro Code - hitting on your mate's ex !  get real

JonEdwardBrenneman
JonEdwardBrenneman

I seriously don't think Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have anything left in the tank.  Season 8 was very weak and I have found this season unwatchable.  The episode's just keep piling up in my DVR and I always seem to find something better to watch.  I don't mean to take anything away from HIMYM - years years is an amazing run and take an amazing amount of talent - I just wish they would have ended the series two years ago while the show was still in top form.