How I Met Your Father’s story about money woes touched on an issue that How I Met Your Mother managed to mostly avoid over its nine seasons.
Although How I Met Your Father has not yet entirely emerged from How I Met Your Mother’s long shadow, the spinoff did touch on one plotline that its predecessor almost always avoided. How I Met Your Mother predicted the future (or at least, attempted to), but the 00’s sitcom was hardly overburdened with realistic details. As a light-hearted hang-out show, How I Met Your Mother rarely concerned itself with the harsher aspects of reality.
Any time issues like eviction, unemployment, or the high cost of city living were mentioned, it was typically in the context of a throwaway joke. In this regard, the show’s spinoff How I Met Your Father already has one up on its predecessor. Unlike How I Met Your Mother, the spinoff show has based an entire season 1 episode’s plot around the financial woes of its heroes Sophie and Jesse. Admittedly, the realities of Jesse and Sophie’s struggles as starving artists were hardly full-blown kitchen sink realism.
That said, How I Met Your Father did touch on the high cost of living in New York in a way that How I Met Your Mother rarely (if ever) did. From Jesse not being able to cover rent to Sophie being unable to afford anything but the cheapest dentist, to the gang bringing their own beer (to their friend’s bar, no less), How I Met Your Father spent much of “The Perfect Shot” (season 1, episode 8) addressing how hard it is for young professionals to afford to live in New York. The fact that Sophie and her friends mostly work in creative industries, rather than more traditionally lucrative fields like architecture, TV presenting, banking, and law makes it more obvious that they can’t afford the lifestyle depicted by the series.
However, the earlier show largely avoided even touching on the question of how a teacher/artist like Lily afforded life in New York, whereas How I Met Your Father proved it differs from the earlier hit as it addressed the question head-on and kept its sense of humor in the process. The answer turned out to be “with great difficulty,” as Jesse and Sophie spent the episode bonding over their shared plight as young creatives struggling to make ends meet. Although this was exacerbated by the fact that both of them are idealistic dreamers and the comparatively sensible Drew appeared to be in better financial straits, it was still a reasonably realistic reflection of the city’s economic environment in comparison to How I Met Your Mother’s much more detached, fantastical image of renting in New York.
It remains to be seen whether How I Met Your Father will continue to mine more humor from working-class issues as The Conners has done for years or if the spinoff will bring back its predecessor’s more romanticized vision of life in the city. As of late season 1, though, the How I Met Your Mother spinoff has made an admirable stab at using real-life struggles to set up broad, silly sitcom plots. Whether How I Met Your Father’s cast will soon be living idyllic lives like Ted, Robin, and Barney did on How I Met Your Mother, however, will become clearer as the series progresses.
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