Let us not rehash the bad feelings around the poorly conceived ending of How I Met Your Mother.
I spent happy years watching that show, loved much of what it did with its talented cast, and don't believe in regretting that time just because the charming premise of its pilot (sometimes the person who seems to be your romantic soulmate is not, but they may still be incredibly special to you) was betrayed by its ending (psych! She actually is his romantic soulmate LOL ha ha).
Much of that show's success lay in what you might just call its hangout vibes. Like Living Single and Friends and other sitcoms, it put a bunch of people — Ted (Josh Radnor), Robin (Cobie Smulders), Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan), and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) — in a bunch of rooms doing a bunch of weird things, and it watched as they unfolded. At the same time, the comedy of HIMYM was heightened and a little unreal. It's not as well-known for its hooky, jokey concepts as something like Seinfeld, but bits like the slap bet and Robin's past as a Canadian teen pop star always made it feel a little broader than a pure hangout show.
And now, years later, we get How I Met Your Father on Hulu, which is premiering Jan. 18. The premise is this: an adult Sophie, played by Kim Cattrall, addresses her son to tell him how she met his father. He says he already knows, but she says he doesn't know the details. From here, we launch into the story of young Sophie, played by Hilary Duff, who in the first episode is living with a roommate and going on Tinder dates and, improbably, instantly gaining entry into a new group of friends after an adventurous night. Critics have been asked not to talk too much about how the story of the father fits into this story, so: fine. Frankly, that asks us not to tell readers how the show is trying to preempt fears that its ending will be as much of a gotcha as the original HIMYM ending, which might be counterproductive from the show's point of view, but: fine.
But what I will tell you is that the jokes in the two episodes I watched just do not land at all. It's not for lack of effort, and it's not for lack of talent in the cast. Hilary Duff can absolutely carry a show like this, as you know if you watched her on Younger. And Chris Lowell, who's playing one of the guys in her newly formed circle, is one of my very favorite Regular Guy Actors, by which I mean he often brings a little punch and tons of charm to roles that aren't written with a lot of easy, showy stuff for actors to grab onto. (The role he plays in Promising Young Woman almost riffs on this very quality.)
The rest of the cast I don't know quite as well in comedy — Francia Raisa as Sophie's roommate; Tom Ainsley, Daniel Augustin, Suraj Sharma (from Life of Pi!), and Tien Tran all play other people who enter her life in the first episode. But I don't think it's them; I think it's the script not being nearly funny enough.