The gang on How I Met Your Mother has already found all five doppelgangers, people who exactly like the show’s main characters. I’ve found the sixth HIMYM doppelganger, a show that looks and feels exactly like How I Met Your Mother, only not quite as good.
Say hello to Mad Love, premiering tonight at 8:30pm immediately after HIMYM. The show tells the story of the new love between Ben and Kate (American Pie star Jason Biggs and Scrubs star Sarah Chalke), two New Yorkers who meet on top of the Empire State Building. Along for the ride are their token wacky best friends, Larry and Connie (Reaper‘s Tyler Labine and the always funny Judy Greer).
So what is it about Mad Love that reminds me of How I Met Your Mother? How about everything. From the setting to the characters to the narration, it looks and feels like a slightly worse version of HIMYM. Here are just seven reasons why the two shows are identical cousins.
Ben Parr = Ted Mosby
First of all, Jason Biggs and Josh Radnor could be twins. Ignoring the jarring physical similarities, both main characters are painfully naive hopeless romantics who only want to find true love. They are, for all intents and purposes, the exact same person.
The Storytelling Device
On HIMYM, the entire series is framed by a father telling his kids the story of how he met the woman of his dreams. On Mad Love, the entire series is framed by Ben’s best friend Larry telling Ben’s love life as a fairy tale.
The American Pie Connection
Maybe this is a coincidence, but Mad Love stars Jason Biggs and HIMYM stars Alyson Hannigan, who made beautiful, nasty music together in the American Pie films.
Perhaps the biggest and most problematic comparison is that the lead love interest is played by Sarah Chalke, who was Ted’s fiancee Stella on How I Met Your Mother. It’s impossible to watch Mad Love and not think about Stella. And while this is just a coincidence, Mad Love‘s other two female stars, Judy Greer and Sarah Wright, have both guest starred on HIMYM as well.
The Wise-Cracking Best Friend
If Barney and Marshall were ever melded into a single person, it might be Ben’s best friend Larry. He’s a lawyer with a folksy charm and swagger (like Marshall), but he also loves suits and using preposterous schemes to pick up women (like Barney). However, one of the few good things about Mad Love is that Tyler Labine has the chops to pull it off. He’s one of those actors who’s usually stuck as the wacky sidekick, with the notable exception of the failed TV show Sons of Tucson. It’s good to see him back in the kind of lovably goofy role he excels at.
A Secondary Love Story
On How I Met Your Mother, fans eventually started rooting for Barney and Robin to get together. While Mad Love might pretend to be about the blossoming romance between Ben and Kate, the real magic is between their friends. Larry and Connie are instantly repelled by one another, but even in the pilot it’s clear that they belong together and their own possible love will most likely be the real story of the series.
Labine and Greer help make this easy by having tremendous chemistry and comedic timing. If Mad Love doesn’t work out, those two should really be promoted to leads, even though Sons of Tucson and Miss Guided both failed.
This might seem silly, but both shows are set in New York, using the city for its ability to provide a magical sense of romance. In the pilot of Mad Love we see the Empire State Building and fireworks going off while two characters kiss, both things HIMYM has used prominently. I’m sure love exists in other cities, so did Mad Love really need to be set in the same place?
So is the fact that Mad Love is little more than a How I Met Your Mother rip-off necessarily a bad thing? Sure, it’s basically the same show, but a slightly worse version of a great show still has something. Though the story and leads are predictably bland, anyone who’s a fan of Tyler Labine or Judy Greer should definitely tune in. As is the case with many sitcoms, it’s the supporting players who steal the show.
(Image courtesy of CBS)