Movie Reviews

How I Met Your Father Can Still Fix Its HIMYM Cameo Issues

How I Met Your Father risks depending on How I Met Your Mother cameos to attract audiences, but future seasons can still fix this problem. Barney Stinson’s (Neil Patrick Harris) cameo appearance in a brief tease for the How I Met Your Father season 2 premiere confirms that audiences can expect to see more HIMYM characters down the road, which seems to validate the fear that the spin-off series is pandering for fans. However, it’s still possible for HIMYF to make these cameos work to benefit Sophie’s story.

How I Met Your Father season 1’s Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) cameo worked well as she didn’t appear until the finale. This meant that the series had a full season to establish itself without depending only on How I Met Your Mother cast nostalgia. Still, it seemed that the spin-off series needed to draw the line there and avoid too many more cameos or risk losing itself entirely. However, How I Met Your Father season 2 premiere’s Barney cameo confirmed that this isn’t the case—but it may not mean that HIMYF is unjustly depending on cameos.

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While it’s easy for parent series cameos to ruin a spin-off, it’s possible for the characters to contribute positively to the show. In the case of Robin Scherbatsky’s cameo in How I Met Your Father season 1, she didn’t just appear to get applause from the audience. Sophie had just panicked and broken up with Jesse because she was too scared of the potential romance, and there would have been no one better to offer her advice on why this was a problem than How I Met Your Mother’s Robin. She guided Sophie away from repeating her mistakes, ensuring that the spin-off didn’t have to tread the same path.

It’s too soon to tell if Barney will serve the same purpose in How I Met Your Father season 2, but it would be the best way to solve any potential cameo problems. Since Sophie’s interaction with the “legendary” HIMYM character is her “rock bottom,” it sounds like the perfect moment for her to get a little advice. Barney’s character arc resulted in several personal revelations. Just as Robin guided Sophie through handling a boyfriend who says “I love you” on the first date, Barney can help her realize that dating and hooking up isn’t the most important aspect of her story.

If Barney follows in Robin’s footsteps in How I Met Your Father, it would mean a systematic and almost poetic involvement of How I Met Your Mother’s characters. Still, it would only be successful if each of the five central cast members were to appear. If How I Met Your Mother season 3 were to be void of cameos, or if only minor characters were to appear, it would return both Robin and Barney’s appearances to the “pandering” category. This, of course, makes the “guide cameo” concept a bit of a gamble.

The risk might have been lower if all five actors, including those who have not yet appeared, like Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan, had committed to HIMYF before its start. Showrunner Elizabeth Bergerf shared that they hope to get every major HIMYM cast member to return to How I Met Your Father (via EW), but it all comes down to who is available and when. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t a concrete plan— since a certain amount of secrecy is critical in the How I Met Your Mother franchise.

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Of course, now that Barney has been teased for a later cameo in How I Met Your Father season 2 after Robin’s season 1 appearance, there seems to be little left in the way of secrets and surprises regarding cameos. However, the differences between both characters’ big HIMYF moments reveal that anything can still happen. If Barney had only popped up in the season 2 finale, the similarity with Robin would have felt too one-note. Instead, the premiere episode tease cleverly ignited some anticipation while still laying out what audiences can expect later in the season.

These change-ups were a staple of How I Met Your Mother, so HIMYF can be expected to continue the trend. By changing up the season 2 cameo, the show demonstrated its ability to bring in the central cast in new and unexpected ways. This, combined with its ability to stand on its own with solid characters like Sophie, Valentina, and Jesse, will allow How I Met Your Father to shake off criticism for its cameos. Each will have a purpose, and each will be a fun surprise.

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