Hilary Duff, known best for her teenage tenure on Lizzie McGuire, is headlining the new sitcom, spun-off from the longtime hit How I Met Your Mother, How I Met Your Father. And now, we have our first look at the show, featuring Duff and the rest of the cast.

How I Met Your Father first look at Hilary Duff and cast

Alongside Duff, Chris Lowell, Francia Raisa, Tom Ainsley, Tien Tran, and Suraj Sharma also star. Here we see the cast on The Infinity on Disney Stage 1. This collaboration between Disney General Entertainment Content, Disney Television Studios, and Industrial Light & Magic allows for cutting-edge virtual production. According to a release:

Showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger had conceived a pivotal sequence for an episode of the show set in New York City, in which their lead character walks the Brooklyn Bridge with her friends. Rather than flying series star Hilary Duff and her castmates across the country and braving the logistical obstacles of the elements, location shooting and permits, ambient noise and other complications, series director and executive producer Pamela Fryman was able to shoot her stars on the virtual stage, capturing a render of them walking the iconic location which will look completely authentic to viewers.

We will have to look out for this scene when How I Met Your Father airs. And that airing will be a long time coming. In early 2014, two months ahead of How I Met Your Mother’s series finale, the world received some strange news. Producers had begun planning a spinoff. (That’s not the strange part, as such is common enough for TV shows as popular as HIMYM.) A little stranger: the show would be titled How I Met Your Dad, not How I Met Your Father. (I’d love to have sat in on the brainstorming session that yielded this decision.) But the real “huh?” factor came along with the announcement of Greta Gerwig as the would-be sitcom’s star.

20th Television

At this time, the public had its eye on Gerwig’s ascent as a filmmaker and movie actor; filling out a sitcom spinoff seemed like a lateral move for the Francis Ha star and screenwriter. (The voices of social media made their feelings clear on the matter.) For one reason or another, the project never took form. But seven years later, the world is not quite the place it was in 2014.

Sitcom spinoffs and reboots are even more plentiful; Gerwig has more than established her name as a director, now boasting two Best Picture-nominated films on her résumé; streaming services, once relegated to showcasing extant content, now produce their own shows and movies with vigor; and Hilary Duff is back. (Duff has costarred on Younger and will lead a spinoff of the series. Work had begun on a Lizzie McGuire reboot as well, but sadly, such has since been axed.)

Now, in 2021, these staggered factors converge in the form of How I Met Your Father—a new Hulu Original starring Duff (not Gerwig) as the lady on the lookout for love. And yes, they’re going with Father, not Dad, this time around. Again, to be a fly on the wall when they changed it back.

TV Land/Paramount+

Per a press release, the Duff-centric sitcom sounds a lot like the original show:

“In the near future, Sophie (Duff) is telling her son the story of how she met his father: a story that catapults us back to the year 2021 where Sophie and her close-knit group of friends are in the midst of figuring out who they are, what they want out of life, and how to fall in love in the age of dating apps and limitless options.”

As more than things a few have changed since 2014, we can hope and expect that How I Met Your Father adopts a significantly less misogynistic bent than did its forebear. But if I’ve learned one thing from this rollercoaster ride of a production cycle, it’s not to make predictions. The show hails from creators Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, both of whom are writers/producers for This Is Us and Love, Victor. HIMYM creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas will serve as executive producers.

Originally published on April 21, 2021.