20th Century Fox Television has been working on a How I Met Your Mother spinoff since 2013 when they were able to get How I Met Your Dad starring Greta Gerwig all the way to the pilot stage before CBS passed on it. However, rather than cut their losses, Fox kept trying, which makes sense when you consider that How I Met Your Mother was a hit show that has had a healthy life in syndication. Using that storytelling device plus that brand could potentially yield a new hit sitcom if all the pieces fall into place.
The original writers of the spinoff, Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, are now co-showrunners on the upcoming season of This Is Us, so they’re no longer available. Fox chairman Dana Walden tells Deadline this means the studio is “starting from scratch” and that they’re currently looking for a writer. “It’s one that’s been slowly cooked. If it’s the right idea the right execution, we’ll take that,” says Walden.
If you’re wondering why Fox is so adamant about trying to spinoff How I Met Your Mother, keep in mind that syndication still matters even in the age of streaming, and that the concept is sound for a sitcom. For starters, unlike other spinoffs, they wouldn’t need any of the original characters. This isn’t Fraiser or Joey. They just need a small group of friends and one of them is trying to find love. From there, various comic misadventures ensue. HIMYM had a unique storytelling structure, not just within the entire series, but within individual episodes that would rely heavily on flashbacks and flashforwards to the point where the audience laughter never came from a studio watching the filming live, but rather from watching the finished episode since so much relied on the editing.
That being said, it’s not an automatic slam dunk, which is why CBS passed on the original pilot in the first place (that’s not to say their instincts are always sound; they did pick up Kevin Can Wait), so it will be interesting to see if Fox can make any progress with this new iteration.