The new sitcom How I Met Your Father debuted on the streaming service Hulu Tuesday. Featuring Hilary Duff, Christopher Lowell, Francia Raisa, Suraj Sharma, Tom Ainsley, Tien Tran and Kim Cattrall, it is a sequel series to How I Met Your Mother, which ran on CBS 2005-14.
Like its predecessor, Father follows a parent (here, Cattrall) as they detail their own romantic history for their offspring, decades in the future. Duff plays the younger version of Cattrall’s Sophie and the rest of the cast play the 30-something friends who help her navigate life and love in 2022 New York City.
Here’s what the stars — and show-runners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger — told CinemaDailyUS about How I Met Your Father.
Q. What do you think the show says about the importance of adult friendship and human interaction?
Suraj Sharma: I definitely think it says so much. The events in the story are all over the place. All of the characters are going through their own things — coming together, talking about them, dealing with them, going back and forth — and that’s what friendship is, right? That’s what connection is. It’s not that you all go through the same things. Everybody goes through their own things, but there are those moments. It’s a mental meeting place, a spiritual meeting place — friendship.
Somehow, this TV show seems to really home into that really, really strongly. Through the writing and through our own relationships in real life now. We are all newbies. We don’t know anything about multi-camera situations. Some of us didn’t do comedy. … But then we found ourselves under a common umbrella, doing this thing, learning slowly together. I feel like it’s connected well.
Francia Raisa: This pandemic really taught us about how important human connection and relationships are and to be able to come out of quarantine and onto a show where COVID isn’t a factor and we are able to act as friends again and really understand the dynamic between the characters and this human connection and emotional and mental support was a relief for all of us and then the fact that we all actually get along really well was really fun and just beautiful. Like Suraj always says, “Good vibes all around.”
Tom Ainsley: The whole show is a story about love, but that extends beyond just the romantic nature. We are getting to see these fledgling relationships of a group of friends that if, not already, will start to love each other in a real, genuine and deep way. From [my character] Charlie’s perspective, he moves across an ocean and doesn’t know anybody there and then by the end of Episode 2, we see the seeds of a relationship with Sid [Sharma] starting to grow.
Q. How did you each relate to your own specific characters Valentina, Sid and Charlie?
Francia Raisa: You know what’s crazy? The minute I read the sides for the audition, I was like, “I know her.” It wasn’t even a particular thing that I could relate to. I heard her voice so clearly in my head and I already had this vision about her. Any actor would know that when that happens on an audition, you’re like, “I have to be a part of this,” and you just know. I knew from Day 1, I was going to be a part of this and I was so excited to create her because it is very rare that you get a script and you just see and hear it so clearly.
Suraj Sharma: For whatever reason, when I read the script, I was like, “Yep, yep, Sid what’s up?” You just somehow know. There’s one part [I really relate to,] Sid’s ability as an Indian person to shirk off the responsibility of societal norms of what work you do and stuff like that and open up a bar. So many of my friends and people I know have those dreams and don’t do it. So, for me, there is a little bit of me that thinks, “Man, I’m so lucky to be this person right now and explore those thoughts.” Because I feel like it will give some people hope.
Tom Ainsley: I was clear with how I saw Charlie, but, to begin with, I don’t think I was brave enough. I had this very specific idea of what route I wanted to go down — a little bit sillier, a little bit less naturalistic than I’ve, perhaps, normally done in my career and Pam Fryman, our wonderful director and leader, put her arm around me on Day 1 and said, “Just run with it and if you think you’re going too far, I’ll pull you back.” And she never pulled me back once.
Q. The show is a valentine to New York, even though it is taped in California. How does that reflect your own personal relationships with the Big Apple?
Suraj Sharma: Anybody who’s been to New York for more than five days knows it is very tough and you fall in love with it at the same time. I love it and I love to hate it. I feel like this hits that. It makes you go through tough times. It makes you realize tough things. It makes you stronger. It makes you believe in yourself. It makes you realize that there’s nobody out there that can really affect you with judgment or anything like that. You can only form connections — or not. And so, I feel like that happens in the TV show. It happens in New York. I’m so happy that’s it both. This show, I love it!
Francia Raisa: It made me want to move there. I’m not going to lie.
Tom Ainsley: I’ve never been to New York! I never got around to it. It kind of works because Charlie has never been to New York before, so my naivete with regards to all of that stuff was able to shine through. But we’re standing on set and Suraj is doing his thing where he acting as New York’s tourist adviser and telling everyone about how great it is and I’m just standing there going, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” I want to join in this conversation, but I can’t!
Q: How did you incorporate what fans loved about Mother into a fresh new show that can stand on its own?
Isaac Aptaker: It was such a balancing act. Any sort of ensemble, multi-cam lives or dies by this group of friends. Are they fun? Do you want to spend time with them? Do you believe they’re friends? That’s certainly something from the original. Just the worldview. I think the original is so hopeful and optimistic. Dating is hard. Finding your person is hard, especially nowadays. And I think, despite that, Josh Radnor’s character [in Mother] and Hilary Duff’s character both try to keep their head up. When they get knocked down, they get back up again. I think that optimism and hope is something we tried to carry forward in this show.
Elizabeth Berger: Also, in terms of the original, we were very drawn to the framework — that notion of someone looking back on their crazy 20s and early 30s and sort of telling their kid the story of all of their romantic ups and downs, and also just ups and downs that weren’t romantic, but were just daily life. We really wanted to preserve that element while making you fall in love with this new group of people at the same time.
Q. The world has changed so much since Mother went off the air eight years ago. How did that impact your storytelling in Father?
Isaac Aptaker: The year that How I Met Your Mother ended is the year that Tinder sort of became commonplace on everyone’s phones. That alone has completely revolutionized how people date and meet each other. Nowadays, you can take out your cellphone and have 100 options of single people within a few miles, if you are in a big city, so that is wonderful and daunting and overwhelming. It has all kinds of effects on the psyche and that was something that we really wanted to explore with these characters. What is it like dating in an age where there is a new person with the swipe of a thumb?
Elizabeth Berger: I just missed the online dating thing in terms of when I got together with my future husband, but all of my friends were going through it and [I heard] those stories about what it’s like to be out there and be hopeful and start investing in a human, only to realize they are thinking about the 20 other people in their phone, and then to pick yourself up and do it all over again. It feels very timely and very now in terms of what people are really going through.
Q. How did you decide to cast Cattrall as the older version of Sophie?
Isaac Aptaker: We hit the Sophie jackpot twice. We had Hilary first and we got on a brainstorm with her to say, “Hey, who should be the future you?” And the name all three of us unanimously landed on was Kim Cattrall, but we were like, “Well, that’s not going to happen, so who do we really ask?” And then, lo and behold, she was excited about it and she was cool enough to jump on Zoom and hear more about the show and what we were trying to do and she responded to the notion. And then she showed up on our stage one day and our whole cast came, even though they weren’t shooting, just to meet her, and fan-girl, fan-guy out. She blew us all away.
Elizabeth Berger: So much of the show and buying into it involves wanting to hear this story being told and as soon as Kim sat down in our beautiful set that is her apartment and she looked all cozy and glamorous in her beautiful sweater and she leaned forward and started telling this story, we all had that reaction of: “Oh, my gosh! I would let her tell me any story! I love just hanging out with this woman.” And that brings such an incredible element to the show. We were already so excited about it, but it felt like it just brought things to the next level in this incredible way.
Here’s the trailer of series.