Is 'A to Z' Anything Like 'How I Met Your Mother'? They Have More in Common than Cristin Milioti
If you hadn't noticed, hordes of new fall TV shows are vying for How I Met Your Mother's recently vacated spot. Television knows we are in a very vulnerable place, without MacLaren's and it seems that every other new show this season has some meet-cute situation. So far, the clear front runner to replace HIMYM is NBC's A to Z, a cute and charming sitcom that details an entire couple's relationship from A to Z. Bear in mind, my heart's still not over the loss of Marshall Erickson, so just how similar is A to Z to HIMYM? We don't necessarily want a reboot of the original series, something How I Met Your Dad learned the hard way. HIMYM was really about growing up, and becoming adults, so our new show has to be about what it's like to be an adult, and grow up from there. Can they do it?
A to Z looks like it's going to try really, really hard to sweep us off our feet. It might go so far as stealing a blue french horn. The least we can do is give it the benefit of the doubt, and check it out, right? But before you go and commit yourself to nine years of Andrew and Zelda (GET IT? That's why it's called A to Z!), let's break down the many ways it might be like HIMYM, and also how it's not.
Andrew Lofland, as played by Mad Men's Ben Feldman, is a hopeless romantic and works for an online dating service called Wallflower. All he wants to do is meet the girl of his dreams. Because he is just like Ted Mosby. In lieu of a french horn escapade, he stalks this new crush (Zelda) online, and it royally freaks her out. Sound familiar?
From one sitcom to the next, Cristin Milioti sure is establishing herself as the go-to girl for adorable meet-cutes. She plays Zelda Vasco, a lawyer who was raised by oddball parents (in this case, hippies) and is now all business all the time. Because she is Robin Scherbatsky. When she learns that Andrew has been stalking her online, she flips out and with good reason. She's working really hard and only has time for her job that she loves, even though it's taking a toll on her life. Sound familiar?
IT'S GOT A NARRATOR
Playing the role of narrator, we have Katey Sagal, who is almost as good as Bob Saget. The thing about Bob Saget is that we all grew up with him via Full House. He was already a staple dad figure in our lives, so of course we were going to sit down and listen to him tell the longest story ever. While I do really love Katey Sagal, and while she has played a mom all across television (Married with Children, 8 Simple Rules, Sons of Anarchy), I wish they had cast a narrator we identified with more. Meg Ryan was slated to be the narrator for HIMYD and I personally think she's a perfect choice. But ya know, narrator, amirite? Sound familiar?
WE'RE TOLD UP FRONT HOW THEIR STORY ENDS
Right off the bat, Narrator Sagal informs us how long their relationship will last, which is roughly around nine months. So we know what these two characters are working towards, but we don't necessarily know how they get there. Sound familiar?
I guess this is the new thing to do, so audiences don't feel like they're wasting their time for nothing. But HIMYM had that great hook right at the end of the pilot, where we learn Robin's not the mother, but Ted's still going to try to win her over. We know that Andrew and Zelda have a relationship for a set amount of time, and now the show has to stick to that constraint. They cannot, by any means, suddenly decide these two are going to date for longer, or break up and get back together, or elope, or anything, because they've already established the rules of the show. Establishing the rules early on worked for HIMYM. We're about to find out of it works for A to Z.
BUT THIS SHOW RELIES HEAVILY ON TECHNOLOGY
Maybe it's because HIMYM started before Tinder ever took off, but we never saw the gang invested in any sort of web culture — well, aside from anything Robin Sparkles related. But this show has a dating app built into the plot, since that's how Andrew and Zelda meet for the first time. Then, they add each other on Facebook. Then, they follow each other on Twitter. I know that's how the world works nowadays, but I kind of already miss the old charm of HIMYM.
SO, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY REACH "Z"?
As loyal HIMYM fans, we always wondered just what would happen when Ted finally met the titular mother. We figured we might meet her during earlier seasons, but slowly we all came to realize that we'd meet her at the absolute last second. That's really how the show ended — the kids learned the long true story of how Ted met Tracy.
A to Z is going for that same gimmick, since their story is the "comprehensive relationship from A to Z." Since we've all been through kindergarten, we know that there are 26 letters in the alphabet. The episode titles read like hooked-on-phonics. "A is for Acquaintances." "B is for Big Glory." "C is for Curiouser and Curiouser." Adorable, right? But maybe not the best shtick because what happens when they reach the letter Z? HIMYM ended when we met the mom. It was called How I Met Your Mother for a reason. Does that mean this show will last only 26 episodes? Then, what? Do we switch to the Russian alphabet, which has 33 letters?
We can all find out together when A to Z premiers Thursday night at 9:30 p.m.
Images: Isabella Vosmikova, Greg Gayne, Trae Patton, Brandon Hickman, Jessica Brooks/NBC; Getty Images