Why We’re Surprisingly OK With a ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Spinoff
Kids, remember when spinoffs seemed to all of a sudden become the go-to extension plan for aging TV series, and in the same year TV managed to churn out 'Breaking Bad’ spinoff ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘The Walking Dead’ companion series, and ‘The Vampire Diaries’ spinoff ‘The Originals,’ among others? Well, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ kept the trend alive in 2014 with ‘How I Met Your Dad,’ and here’s why we felt strangely fine about it.
Borrowing a page from ‘The Wonder Years’ with a bit of mystery twist, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ proved just interesting enough as a concept to make it through the development and pilot phases, eventually flourishing into a heartwarming, if time-turning tale of five friends awaiting their futures in New York City. And even though patience has worn beyond thin, both before and after ‘HIMYM’ finally went for broke in introducing the mother into a dragged-out final season, the framework continues to hold up.
Our current displeasure with ‘How I Met Your Mother’ has little to do with the narrative conventions of the show, but rather our frustrations with the characters themselves. We’ve known for the longest time how each would ultimately end up, and the narrowing gaps between future and past have all but choked the life out of each. Even as we watch Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney struggle through the longest wedding weekend ever, the humor remains largely on point, and would do well to find its way into a whole new MacLaren’s gang.
Of course, what would a spinoff be without the potential to see the old gang again? We wouldn’t mind checking in on Ted and his new lady love, or at least filling in some of the gaps between the finale and flashes we’ve seen. As long as the new gang will be hanging around MacLaren’s, you’d think it impossible to avoid a few well-timed cameos.
‘HIMYM’ writing still manages to charm as it drags out the mother’s identity one year after another, so we can’t deny that the humor has found a comfortable groove. That said, a new story in the same universe wouldn’t necessarily require all the growing pains ‘How I Met Your Mother’ had in the beginning, and likely hit the ground running with everything that already worked. Not to mention, ‘Up All Night’'s Emily Spivey would certainly add a new dimension to the writing.
When all is said and done, do we really need Chuck Lorre to fill yet another vacancy in the CBS lineup? Whatever you make of ‘Two and a Half Men’ or ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and their less successful counterparts, ‘Mom’ and ‘Mike & Molly,’ we’re just happy to have ‘How I Met Your Dad’ provide some less crass humor for the network.
One of the biggest mistakes a spinoff can make is to run concurrently with its parent series, constantly begging the question of a crossover, and draining viewer focus on either side. We’ve no idea what AMC will do with two ‘Walking Dead’ shows on at once, but thankfully ‘How I Met Your Mother’ will have gracefully (we hope) stepped aside by fall 2014 and ensured a relatively smooth transition into a new story.
Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan’s existing popularity notwithstanding, would Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders or Jason Segel have near the exposure they do today without ‘How I Met Your Mother'? Probably not. The producers certainly have an eye for talent that pays off almost as much as it costs them by the end, so we’re sure that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas could find an affable group of young leads with futures to brighten.
Apart from Lily and Robin, let’s face the fact that ‘How I Met Your Mother’ hasn’t historically been kind to women. Near of every new girl on the show either offers a chance for Barney to perfect his latest play or for Ted to bail on, so we’d be interested to see the dynamic flip. Putting Emily Spivey’s voice in the mix should certainly help, so we’d imagine ‘How I Met Your Dad' would be a step in the right direction for the franchise.
Seriously. We don’t care what other questions are or aren’t answered by ‘How I Met Your Mother’'s ultimate endgame next May, but if not the pineapple, we demand the spinoff finally address that damnable fruit.