Hulu’s How I Met Your Father is back for Season 2. A spin-off of the beloved sitcom How I Met Your Mother, the series adopts a familiar formula and transports us into the year 2050 as an older version of our protagonist, Sophie (Kim Cattral), tells her (unseen) son the story of how she met his father, beginning in 2022. Hilary Duff stars as Sophie, a budding photographer searching for true love in New York City. Francia Raisa plays Valentina, Sophie’s best friend and roommate. Chris Lowell plays Jesse, an aspiring musician and one of Sophie’s potential love interests. Suraj Sharma plays Sid, Jesse’s best friend and roommate who owns a bar and is in a long distance relationship with Hannah (Ashley Reyes). Tom Ainsley plays Charlie, Valentina’s boyfriend, and Tien Tran plays Ellen, Jesse’s adoptive younger sister who moved to the city to reconnect with her brother after her divorce from her wife. Leighton Meester (Meredith) and Josh Peck (Drew) also guest star. The series was created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger. Aptaker, Berger, Carter Bays, Craig Thomas, Pam Fryman, and Adam Londy serve as executive producers; Duff also serves as a producer.
Check out the Season 2 trailer below:
Season 2 premiered on Hulu January 24 and will consist of 20 episodes, airing weekly. Nerds of Color was lucky enough to get to speak to the cast about the upcoming season at a special press junket. Ainsley, Duff, Lowell, Raisa, and Tran discussed upcoming storylines, relationships, guest stars, and so much more.
Note: Sharma was unavailable for interviews.
At the time of the junket, the cast had just wrapped filming for Season 2. “We don’t remember anything we shot,” Raisa said. “So honestly, it’s like the first time we’re seeing these episodes too.” The cast had also just done their first live taping, which Raisa described as an “incredible” experience.
“We had such a wonderful audience as well, that were very, very energetic and very happy to be there,” Ainsley said. “They were laughing at all the right points and all the right moments…laughing three or four takes sometimes. We were like, wow.”
“It felt like a big celebration to end the season,” Tien added. “My parents and my wife came and they had such a great time. My parents, like, can’t stop talking about it. They loved it so much. And they’re like, ‘We will come to every single taping.’ I did not expect them to be like little fanboys on set. But they were like, ‘No, no, we have to take a picture with your brother, we have to take a picture with Francia. Come on, we have to take a picture! Please, please, please.’”
Valentina and Charlie shockingly called it quits in the Season 1 finale after discovering a big lifestyle difference between them. Valentina wants kids someday, while Charlie, who’s hinted at having a less-than-ideal childhood, firmly doesn’t (not unlike Ted and Robin’s predicament on How I Met Your Mother). Rather than dance around the subject, the two decided to amicably end their romantic relationship. However, this door isn’t necessarily closed for good.
“Valentina really believes that they’re going to end up together somehow in some way, shape, or form,” Raisa said. “What I appreciate about the storyline is that Valentina is not forcing it, and she’s not trying to change his mind. It’s a real conversation that I think happens at the age that we’re at now. And I’m glad that she’s giving it the time that it needs, and we’ll see what happens. But I think it’s definitely…she’s hopeful.”
Ainsley agreed. “For a group of characters that don’t often make the most grown up decisions, it does feel like a very grown up stance to take to believe that eventually, one day, two people will end up together and not, you know, be hung up about the present,” he said. “But [Valentina] believes long-term in the future, [they’ll end up together]. And I think it’s pretty nice.”
“I love that there’s still a friendship there,” Raisa added. “It was actually a huge lesson to me, because I’m like, ‘Block! Never call me again.’”
Valentina and Charlie aren’t the only ones in a complicated spot. After breaking up with Drew, Sophie briefly gave things a shot with Jesse. But when she felt things were moving too quickly between them, she bolted, leading Jesse to reconnect with his ex, Meredith. Now, it seems the two are back to being “just friends” — but there’s definitely some lingering tension between them still.
“You can expect maybe some unrequited romance between the two of them,” Lowell said of Sophie and Jesse’s dynamic this season. “I think what Isaac and Elizabeth and the rest of the writers do a really good job of is teasing out these opportunities and moments of maybe connection or misconnection or longing. I think there’s a lot of fun ways that they find opportunities to sort of weave that in and out throughout the season. Just torture the audience.”
Lowell added that he and Duff have nothing but respect for each other in real life as well. “I think the respect that we have for each other off camera hopefully translates to the respect that we have for each other on camera,” he said. “We’re the only parents on the show. We talk about our kids a lot. I live in New York, so when I was out here, I was like, ‘Can I borrow a highchair from you? Can I borrow a stroller from you?’”
Fans can also expect to see more romance in store for Ellen this season, Tien revealed. “You’ll get to see Ellen navigating what her relationship looks like with Rachel,” said Tien, who is openly lesbian just like her character. “I just feel very lucky as an actor that I get to play this character on TV who, you know, isn’t defined by her intersecting identities,” she explained. “She just gets to be part of the friend group, and gets to kind of normalize these storylines in a time [in real life] that is becoming violently anti-LGBTQ.”
Romantic relationships aside, the friendships between the characters are also a very important part of How I Met Your Father. Raisa praised Sophie and Valentina’s friendship especially. “I just love that they’re actually real girlfriends, like they have each other’s back no matter what,” Raisa said. “I love the inside jokes they have with each other and the way they ‘roommate’ with each other. The way that they argue is really special. I think they really communicate well, and they don’t let themselves go to sleep angry. I think it’s really an example of what friendship should be like. There’s ups, there’s downs, disagreements. It’s all about how you choose to partake in each situation.”
Like Lowell, Raisa had nothing but positive things to say about working with Duff. “I thought [Duff] was lying to me at first,” Raisa joked. “I was like, ‘You’re screwing with me, right? Are you really my friend? Are you really this nice? I don’t believe it.’ But no, it’s really nice and genuine. All of us have built quite the friendship.”
Season 2, Episode 1 teased that Neil Patrick Harris (who played Barney on How I Met Your Mother) will be making an appearance later in the season. Not a whole lot is known about it yet, but Duff promises that Barney will play a key part in Sophie’s journey this season.
“I have a big crush on Neil,” Duff gushed. “I didn’t realize. Like, he’s a married man. And I’m a married woman. But like, he’s just stunning. And his personality is so charming. I’ve seen him on lots of things before, but in person, I was kind of taken by him. He’s really cool.”
Duff recalled filming with Harris. “We had maybe, like, four pages of dialogue between us,” she said. “It was just stacked with lines. And so it was a lot of pressure to do what we had to do. It was raining that night, and it wasn’t supposed to be raining, in the sense that we had shot previously. So it was a little tricky, but he was such a sport about it.”
Harris is the second How I Met Your Mother cast member to guest star; Cobie Smulders appeared as Robin in the Season 1 finale, offering Sophie some much needed wisdom and advice on her love life. Hopefully, the cast said, there will be more OG guest stars in the future.
“To meet the founding fathers of this universe that we’re inhabiting is an intimidating thing any way you slice it,” Lowell explained. “Whoever they bring back — and hopefully we’ll get the entire [How I Met Your Mother] cast at some point, in bits and pieces. Or altogether, that would be a miracle. It’s fun to see the ways that Isaac and Elizabeth have found to weave the original characters into what is very much, like, our world now. It’s crazy, because theoretically, they’re on our turf. But they are the godfathers of the entire world that we’re inhabiting. So it’s fun to kind of be in their presence and watch their dynamic with so many of the crew that they know and have worked with for years. And it’s fun to see the ways that Isaac and Elizabeth find to bring them back because it’s always in an unexpected way.”
“Obviously I would love to work with Josh [Radnor, who played Ted],” Duff chimed in. “He’s lovely. Pam [Fryman], our director, has such a good relationship with all of them. She did all of the How I Met Your Mother episodes.”
The cast unanimously agreed on one How I Met Your Mother actor they’d love to have guest star: Jason Segel, who played Marshall.
“Francia has a tiny little crush on him that has been spoken about time and time again,” Ainsley laughed.
“He is not gonna wanna meet me,” Raisa said. “He’s gonna be like, ‘No.’”
“I feel like the more times you give this answer, the less likely it is that it will happen and the more scared he’ll be,” Ainsley joked.
“No, I think it’s like Beetlejuice! If you say ‘Jason Siegel’ enough times…” Tran chimed in.
Looking to the Future
Duff revealed that Season 2 will solve one key mystery: the identity of Sophie’s father. “You are!” Duff said excitedly when asked if viewers would meet Sophie’s father this season. “I think that’s a spoiler we can say. Sophie gets to meet her dad. She needs something [laughs].”
As for the father, though? That’s still top secret. In fact, even the cast doesn’t know who it is. Lowell said they actually prefer to be kept in the dark. “It’s so much easier to not feel pressure when asked that question, because we simply don’t know the answer to that,” he explained.
Duff agreed. “I think in the first season we would talk about [the identity of the father] a lot and try to narrow it down. Now we never talk about it.”
Fans can also expect to see more of Peck — whom Lowell describes as the show’s “secret weapon” — this season. “Josh is like the show’s mascot,” Lowell said. “Basically, as often as we can, we get Josh on.”
“I didn’t know this, but [Josh] is also on iCarly, which films next door,” Duff added. “So basically any time they’re not using him, we’re like, ‘Get Josh!’”
There will also be more musical moments in Season 2. “I have to sing some completely absurd songs this season,” Lowell revealed. “And as humiliating as it was in the moment, I do think it’ll come out very well.”
Tran hopes that Ellen’s Vietnamese heritage will come up more in the future. “I think that would be really cool,” Tran said. “There’s some fish sauce in the background of our apartment if you’re gonna look for that. When they were setting up the set, I was like, ‘Ellen has to have some nước mắm in the background.'”
Additionally, Ainsley hopes Charlie’s past will be explored more in the future. “I think there’s a reason we keep touching upon Charlie’s past,” Ainsley said. “I think it’s definitely a story that we’re gonna have to tell at some point because it’s had such an impact on who he is today.”
As for Sophie’s journey? It’s going to be a long one full of lessons. When asked what advice she would give Sophie, Duff said, “I think that I would give her a little more confidence than what she’s operating with. Like, she is sure of herself and not afraid to say whatever is on her mind or just act on how she feels. I really love that about her. I actually feel like maybe that’s a common thing with us. But you know, she’s [also] really flailing right now. She’s stumbling right now. She feels as if everyone is doing better than her, and she can’t quite just get both feet on the ground. And that’s why we love her. I’m excited to see where her journey goes. And obviously, the part that’s comforting about it is [because] you get to see Kim, you know that she ended up okay. But I think we have a kind of a treacherous journey to get there.”
Duff also confirmed that she thinks Sophie probably watched Lizzie McGuire (which Duff starred in) as a kid. “Oh my gosh. Well, Sophie is younger than me by, like, five years? Okay, yes. I think that Sophie definitely looked up to Lizzie McGuire,” Duff said, laughing. She added that Sophie “probably stole some wardrobe choices” from Lizzie too.
How I Met Your Father airs Tuesdays on Hulu.