‘HIMYF’ Premiere: ‘HIMYM’ Connection, the Father’s Identity & More Questions Answered

The Cast of How I Met Your Father
Spoiler Alert
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the first two episodes of How I Met Your Father, “Pilot” and “FOMO.”]

Set in the same world as How I Met Your Mother, the new Hulu series follows Sophie’s (Hilary Duff) love story as her future self (Kim Cattrall) recounts it to her son.

Over the course of the first two episodes, Sophie thinks she’s met “the one,” only for Ian (Daniel Augustin) to move to Australia right after their first date. Then, it seems like she and rideshare driver-turned-friend Jesse (Chris Lowell) have a connection, only for her to sort of put him in the friend zone. Rounding out the group are: Sophie’s roommate Valentina (Francia Raisa) and her new boyfriend, Charlie (Tom Ainsley), who followed her from London; Jesse’s friend Sid (Suraj Sharma), who gets engaged to his long-distance girlfriend in the premiere; and Jesse’s sister Ellen (Tien Tran), looking for love after a recent divorce.

The cast and showrunners Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker break down the first two episodes, including the major HIMYM connection, and tease what’s ahead. Scroll down for the scoop.

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Daniel Augustin as Ian, Hilary Duff as Sophie in How I Met Your Father
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Have We Truly Met "The Father"?

At the end of the premiere, Future Sophie says that’s the night she met “the Father,” and we see images of Sid, Jesse, Ian, and Charlie. But is it definitely one of those four, or might there be more revealed about that night to add to the list? “Take her at her word that that night is the night she met him,” Berger says. “But there’s the possibility that other stuff happened that night that we haven’t yet focused on.”

As for Future Sophie’s comment in Episode 2 that she gets with a whole bunch of dudes before winding up with “the Father,” all Aptaker will acknowledge is “that could mean gets with him, breaks up with him, gets back with him, who knows, but this is a long ride with a lot of a lot of suitors for Sophie.”

The HIMYM Apartment in HIMYF

Why That HIMYM Connection?

As we see at the end of the premiere, Jesse and Sid live in the same apartment that Ted (Josh Radnor), Marshall (Jason Segel), and Lily (Alyson Hannigan). Why not have Sophie and Val live there?

“There was something about it being the guy’s apartment that felt right to us, and we wanted to create this very specifically Sophie and Val world for their apartment. It just had kind of a different energy and a different vibe,” Berger explains. “It was really exciting for us to tie this world to their world in that way and to let viewers know these are new characters, but they exist in the same universe as those characters that you love existed.”

Adds Aptaker, “it is literally the same apartment. They dug that thing out of deep storage and dusted off the cobwebs and gave it a fresh coat of paint. Those are the exact set pieces from the original,” including, yes, the swords. “It [felt] like there should be one touchstone from the original set on the new version of the set, and we all decided the swords are probably the most iconic. So our props and set dressing and production design teams are searching to find similar looking swords, going wherever they go — antique stores, eBay, who knows — and then [HIMYM creator] Carter [Bays] all of a sudden emails one day and he’s like, ‘hey guys, you know what I just realized? I have the swords from the original in my study. Do you want them?'”

Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Alison Hannigan, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother
Randy Tepper / © CBS / Courtesy Everett Collection

Will Any of the HIMYM Characters Appear?

With Jesse and Sid living in that apartment, “that means that those characters could at some point show up in our world,” allows Berger. So are there any plans for that this season? All Aptaker would say is, “we were big fans of the original show. Those are all funny, charming TV stars, and we should be so lucky to get them on our show.”

Hilary Duff as Sophie, Chris Lowell as Jesse in How I Met Your Father
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Is Jesse Friend-Zoned?

Though Jesse initially thinks that Valentina is trying to set him up with Sophie in Episode 2, it’s actually a friend-setup for Charlie. And by the end of the episode, it seems like Sophie has friend-zoned Jesse.

“There’s definitely potential there,” Berger says of that relationship. “That being said, they are two people that feel a little messy right now and know that they’re embarking on this new friendship and is this the right time to try something? We wanted to close the door while still leaving it open to sort of someone stepping their toe through it down the line.”

Duff admits that her character pursuing Ian to the airport and being rejected left her “really vulnerable and obsessing” and unable to “really see what’s in front of her,” especially after her “tragic” 88 dates in a year. “Jesse is in the same boat, but with a different story. It’s leaving the viewer being like, ‘Come on, guys, get together!’ But that would be too satisfying too quickly. They’re going on different adventures and, throughout the season, just barely missing each other. Maybe he’s a little more tuned into it than she is.”

Leighton Meester as Meredith, Chris Lowell as Jesse in How I Met Your Father

Will Jesse's Ex Return in Season 1?

Sophie recognizes Jesse from “the video,” of his proposal fail to his bandmate, Meredith, played by Leighton Meester. She will be popping up this season. “We were so excited to get her and she is someone who we have a lot more story there to tell,” Aptaker teases.

So what does that mean for Jesse and his friends and sister? “You’re really smart to identify that it’s not just Jesse who knows this person. It’s his friends, it’s his family,” Lowell previews. “She has definitely infiltrated the other relationships in his life and I think will find opportunities to maybe in order to get to Jesse will go through these other relationships. That creates a fun dynamic that complicates things for him, both with his ex but also with the people who he knows through her or alongside her — and of course it complicates things with his confusion towards Sophie.”

Tien Tran as Ellen in How I Met Your Father
Patrick Wymore/Hulu

Will Ellen Stay Positive About Love?

Fresh off a divorce, Ellen puts herself out there in “FOMO” only to be rejected by multiple women at the club. “Ellen is relentlessly positive, but people do reach a limit,” Aptaker points out. “She’s coming from this very, very small town where there weren’t a lot of options, in terms of dating for a queer woman, and now she’s thrown into the middle of Manhattan where there’s just this absolute bounty. There’s so many choices and that’s both incredibly exciting and incredibly overwhelming. We’re going to be on that ride with her very much this season.”

So will Ellen be able to stay as positive as she is at the end of the second episode? “You’ll see her go through a roller coaster of whether or not she keeps that optimism or does it get rewarded with something,” Tran says.

Ashley Reyes as Hannah and Suraj Sharma as Sid in How I Met Your Father
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Can Sid & Hannah Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work?

In the series premiere, Sid and his girlfriend, Hannah (Ashley Reyes), get engaged, but she immediately has to fly back across the country for work. The distance is only part of the strain on their relationship this season. “These are both people who want to live big lives, who want to have big careers,” Aptaker explains. Sid’s opening his own bar, while Hannah’s a surgeon. “They’re both really struggling, not just with the distance, but to find time for each other.”

But at least Sid’s new business is (sort of) working for him, even if it “seems so random to Hannah,” according to Sharma. Sid may need to hire someone new — his current employee sets his own hours — but he does get his “first moment of success” when Charlie orders “the usual.” “Sid really just wants to feel like he’s doing this for real,” the actor shares. “Those little moments mean a lot to him actually.”

Tom Ainsley as Charlie, Hilary Duff as Sophie, Francia Raisa as Valentina in How I Met Your Father
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Can Charlie & Valentina Make a Relationship in NY Work?

Valentina and Charlie’s whirlwind romance led to him (briefly) moving in with her and Sophie back in the city after the couple met at London Fashion Week. As a result of the move, his high-society family cut him off. By the end of Episode 2, they’ve (briefly) broken up, only to get back together but decide he needs to move out. (“He doesn’t have a plan,” Ainsley admits, when it comes to finding a place to live or job. “He just sees however the cards will fall and tries to deal with it.”)

“We thought it was a fun twist on stuff you’ve seen before, where you have the character that’s sort of the party girl and likes her freedom and wants to do you her own thing and is fiercely independent. But at the same time, she falls for someone really early in this show,” says Berger. “What does it look like when that person tries to reconcile those different parts of themself and is forced to kind of stretch and grow as a human right off the jump in a series? And Charlie, obviously everything’s brand new for him. They’re both on these different journeys and at the very beginning of them and the question will be, can they grow together or is it just too much for the two of them to take on?”

We meet the two very much in the “honeymoon phase,” and while that “doesn’t go away,” Raisa says, “we start opening our eyes or to the reality of our situation.”

Chris Lowell as Jesse, Suraj Sharma as Sid, Tien Tran as Ellen in How I Met Your Father
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Will We Meet the Group's Families?

We do hear about Sophie’s mother in the first episode, and we will “definitely” be meeting the group’s family members this season. “We loved delving into characters’ families and where they came from because it so informs who they are and what you’re watching on screen,” Berger shares. “It’s something that we did a bit this season in which we look forward to doing even more in following seasons.”

One familial relationship we’re already starting to see is that between Jesse and Ellen. Look out for Episode 4 to see more, Aptaker previews. “They have a great storyline where we get into learning more about their backstory as siblings and their closeness and then ultimately getting pulled away from each other. But theirs is a story very much of reconnection as adults. And can they sort of re-find their footing as siblings a little bit later in life when they didn’t necessarily share a long childhood together?”

That’s an arc that Duff calls “heartbreaking” and “so beautiful,” and Lowell agrees, calling it “surprisingly emotional” and something he “just got so invested in so quickly.”

Chris Lowell as Jesse in How I Met Your Father
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Will Jesse's Girl Appear?

As Jesse shares with Sophie, Meredith took his cat — he’d named her “Girl” so he could call her “Jesse’s Girl” — in the breakup. “You will see a cat,” Berger shares, though Aptaker adds, “some of our cast is incredibly allergic to cats, so we will probably try to steer clear of cats in the future. We learned that lesson the hard way.”