The upcoming How I Met Your Father won’t be using the original series’ MacLaren’s Pub, which is actually a good plan for separating the shows. After years of development following How I Met Your Mother‘s controversial series finale in 2014, Hulu announced it would finally be moving forward with the role-reversal spinoff series How I Met Your Father. The new show stars Hillary Duff as Sophie, who will be taking over Ted’s role from HIMYM where she tells her son the lengthy story of how she met his father, spruced up by all of the shenanigans of her best friends in their 30s finding love in New York City.
How I Met Your Mother followed Ted Moseby telling his children how he met their mother, with most of the series being set in either Ted and Marshall’s apartment or their habitual bar MacLaren’s Pub, which is just downstairs. MacLaren’s Pub essentially became How I Met Your Mother’s version of Friends’ Central Perk coffee house, which similarly bounced between the 20-somethings characters’ apartments and their convenient hangout spot. In a meta-reference to their habitual hangout spot connections, How I Met Your Mother even featured a premise where the gang tried to hang out at a coffee shop in the season 2 episode “Swarley,” which went poorly for everyone involved. Nonetheless, MacLaren’s Pub is highly associated with the iconography of How I Met Your Mother, even making the real-life NYC bar inspiration a tourist spot.
Not much is known about how exactly How I Met Your Father will connect to the original series, but early set photos have now debunked the theory that the new group of friends would spend their nights in HIMYM’s beloved MacLaren’s Pub. Instead, it appears the new show will have its characters convene in a different, cozier bar, which still comes with the neverending alcohol of the original show’s setting, but a design that feels more reminiscent of Friends’ Central Perk. While the lack of a return to MacLaren’s Pub is disappointing to many fans, it actually signals a positive turn for the spinoff, where it can more easily differentiate itself from the original. Had How I Met Your Father been set in MacLaren’s Pub, it would have received far more comparisons to HIMYM’s dynamics, which would have immediately put it at a disadvantage to the beloved memories of the original characters.
With a new bar, the How I Met Your Father spinoff can more easily distance itself from the expectations of the original. While it’ll follow a similar basic presence, the shows will not be the same as it obviously features flipped roles and a much more modern context for dating. It’s important for the show to set itself apart from HIMYM as much as possible to give it its own feel and cement itself as something that isn’t necessarily trying to exactly mimic the original. Without being on cable and going straight to a streaming service instead, How I Met Your Father can also provide a slightly more adult premise for its humor and drama, where the more true-to-life cursing and raunch of New York City life won’t be as strictly censored.
That said, ruling out MacLaren’s Pub as the new gang’s hangout spot still leaves the mystery of how the two series will connect. Many have theorized that Barney Stinson will make an appearance, possibly hitting on Sophie and her friends as he likely hadn’t given up all of his womanizing charm in How I Met Your Mother’s series finale. Additionally, the other HIMYM characters are still primarily living in New York City, meaning they can easily pop into the new show, even if that means the new gang simply watches Robin on the news. Although the bulk of How I Met Your Father won’t take place in the original MacLaren’s Pub, they can still make an in-universe joke by having the new characters visit the iconic bar and decide it’s not the place for them.