The thought of the How I Met Your Mother spin-off, How I Met Your Dad, has been pretty polarizing since the news officially broke in November. Some fans are excited about more TV in the same format coming from Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, but the majority seem to think a new show with different characters simply won’t live up to the standards set by the current series.
At a recent press day for How I Met Your Mother, Bays and Thomas discussed the upcoming spin-off. It sounds like they haven’t done a ton for the show just yet though, which makes sense considering they’re busy wrapping up their current series. They are, however, aware that most spin-offs don’t succeed and they hope to take the necessary steps to make, and keep, How I Met Your Dad fresh.
Thomas: There will be a lot of curveballs. I really feel like this new show has to prove how it’s its own thing and how it’s different. Yeah, we’re consciously trying to make it feel like it’s its own thing. I don’t want to give too much away, because there are some twists and turns to how we do that. But it feels so archetypal, that concept — a parent telling their kids who they were before the kids knew them. We’re all so curious about that. Then, when you’re a parent, you also want to tell your kid who you used to be. “I was someone totally different before you…”
If you do the show from a female perspective, it raises so many new, interesting questions and possibilities. The character in How I Met Your Dad, the main character Sally, is very different from Ted Mosby. We meet her at a very different and tumultuous moment of her life. Right away, it feels different and interesting to us as writers. At the same time, I hope it taps into something archetypal, which is just like, everyone wants to tell their life story, right? Whether it’s to a friend or to their kids, you want to be able to say, “This is what happened! This the way it was 20 years ago, and this is how I got where I’m going in life.” All we’re really doing is trying to make sense of our lives and convey that to other people in our lives. So we felt that there was more than one story.
If CSI gets to have spinoffs and if Law & Order gets to have spinoffs, and there’s mileage in a show that does a criminal investigation in a certain way or shows how the police and the legal system collaborate, couldn’t there be that for a comedy? I know there’s been That ’80s Show; there’s been a few other format spinoffs that haven’t worked. I think Carter and I always feel like Barney’s line “Challenge accepted!” is very much from Carter and I whenever someone tells us we can’t do something. People will say, “Comedies can’t do that. Spinoffs only work if it’s like Frasier. You choose the right beloved character, and you spin it off in the right way.” If you do it wrong, it’s The Tortellis on Cheers or something. Cheers has the two extremes of how it can go: Frasier and The Tortellis. But this idea that you can’t do a format spinoff for a comedy, it’s like, “Challenge accepted.” We want to at least try. It’s worth writing 48 pages. Some people are like, “Oh, are you scared of trying that? Are you going to piss people off? Is it going to diminish How I Met Your Mother’s legacy?” It’s like, we want to try to write one episode of this other version of it and see if it’s anything. If it’s good, we’ll shoot it, and if it’s not, we won’t.
IGN: How I Met Your Mother is going out on top; it’s the highest-rated comedy on CBS’s Monday night lineup. Without saying, “We’re a sure thing!” you have to feel like there’s gotta be a pretty good shot for the spinoff to go forward.
Thomas: I mean, you never know. Statistically, there haven’t been these format spinoffs in comedy. Would we love to be one of the first ones of those to succeed? It would be an honor. It’s an interesting challenge, but it’s one that we wouldn’t have done without Emily Spivey. We would not have proceeded, mainly because we wanted our attention to be on finishing How I Met Your Mother right, right? Right now, that’s our main focus, and Emily is working really hard on the pilot, so we built that system of doing it.
There’s no such thing as a sure thing. I mean, look at that cast that was up there today — the chemistry of those five people — and then, weirdly, the chemistry of Cristin coming into it, we recognize how rare that is.So How I Met Your Dad is only going to succeed if we cast it right. That’s true of any show ever. But the idea that we’re at a loss because we’re in the shadow of How I Met Your Mother is I think not true, because any pilot that’s just 48 pages that doesn’t have the actors yet can fail, even if it’s really cleverly written. You just need those stars to align. So hopefully we cast it right. Hopefully we’ll be announcing some exciting casting news on that in the coming weeks. It will live or die based on one review. I think we’re good writers, but I think ultimately it comes down to “Does an audience want to spend time with these human beings?” We need to somehow have lightning strike twice, and we’re optimistic enough to try.
I do like the fact that they’re aware the odds are against them. With how solid the ratings for HIMYM are right now, it would be easy for them to think anything in the same vein will be a hit, which simply isn’t the case. Unfortunately, merely being conscious of the fact that they likely won’t succeed does little to improve their chances.
Personally, I don’t have too high of hopes for this show. It’s going to be very easy for people to draw comparisons to the stories of Ted and his friends, and I think the show will have trouble getting beyond that. There’s also the fact that the title includes dad instead of father, which completely baffles me. I’ll be very surprised if this one ends up moving past the pilot.
What are your thoughts on How I Met Your Dad? Do you think the show has any chance of getting picked up? Head on down to the comments section to share your thoughts.