The First “How I Met Your Mother” Imitator

Every successful show inspires imitators, but How I Met Your Mother hasn’t had many imitators — probably because until 2008, it wasn’t actually a success. Now that it has achieved something resembling hit status, NBC has picked up what appears to be a somewhat similar show, “100 Questions.” (Originally titled “100 Questions for Charlotte Payne.”) The New York Times has the preview clip of this show, about a young woman who goes to a dating service where they try and find your perfect mate by asking you very personal questions about yourself and your love life. The format, according to early reviews, is something like this: every week the lead character is asked a question, and in the process of answering the question, she tells a story from her life or the lives of her young friends. The question from the pilot is “are you an honest person?”

The creator of the show, actor Chris Moynihan, originally had the five characters before he hit on the 100 questions as a framing device. The end result will be the first multi-camera show that goes for a HIMYM vibe — a story of young urban friends in the city, but with time-jumps, narration and an overarching story about how the lead character finds true love.

This is not, repeat, not an accusatory post. Every show imitates some other show, and HIMYM is a good example for a multi-camera sitcom to follow if it wants to add some pep and pace to its storytelling. The preview doesn’t look all that promising, though, mostly because the lead character looks like she might be a female Ted Mosby (not a compliment in any possible way). But it’s just a preview, after all. Still, the weak spot in the HIMYM formula is that when an ensemble comedy story is told through the eyes of one character, that character almost inevitably becomes the least likable person on the show, if only because that character is constantly making every issue All About Him. An early review of the 100 Questions pilot claims that they get around this problem by not trying to pretend that Charlotte is likable, but that has its own obvious problems.

Still, while waiting for HIMYM to get a fifth-season pickup, we now have definite proof that it’s become a semi-hit; other networks are trying to come up with something similar, or at least, when they try to do Friends-style comedies, they now try and add some HIMYM-style storytelling.

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