HIMYF takes place in the universe of How I Met Your Mother, which aired on CBS from 2005 to 2014. The show has slowly dropped Easter eggs nodding to the original show, including cameos from Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Bell Bundy and recreation of Marshall and Lily’s apartment set. One of the other vital sets from the original series is MacLaren’s. The location where the group of friends at the center of the show would hang out the most outside of their apartment is the show’s answer to the coffee shop Central Perk from Friends. The creators of How I Met Your Father explain what it took to recreate MacLaren’s Pub for the season 1 finale.
The How I Met Your Father season 1 finale pulled its biggest stunt yet. In a moment where she needs to make a big decision, Hilary Duff’s character Sophie wanders into MacLaren’s and encounters Robin Scherbatsky, played once more by Cobie Smulders. Robin gives Sophie some advice based on her years of experience finding love in New York. She also allows fans to catch up with her life, where she has found career success, although she is still several years from the romantic fate she promised in the How I Met Your Mother finale.
TVLine sat down with How I Met Your Father’s creators, Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, to discuss the season 1 finale. They were asked if the MacLaren’s set was, in fact, the original from HIMYM, and Aptaker revealed that yes, it “was the original set.” However, only the “bigger elements” like the walls and the booths were still around, so the production team had to do a “heroic job” recreating the rest of the complicated set, including all the murals and framed photos on the walls. Read his full quote below:
That was the original set… but our product design and set decoration team had to do a pretty heroic job because the bigger elements were all that was there. It was just the walls and the booths. They had all these archived photos of the original set [to work off of], and that set is pretty complicated — there are murals and prints everywhere — and they had to recreate everything that wasn’t just the bones.
Including both Robin and MacLaren’s is a one-two punch of nostalgia for HIMYM fans. The pub location is just as crucial to the show’s fabric, to the point that it feels like a sixth cast member. It nearly appeared in more episodes than Alyson Hannigan as Lily, who took several weeks off for maternity leave in season 4.
Although How I Met Your Father has never shied away from nodding and winking to How I Met Your Mother fans, this finale cameo featured the first central cast member to appear on the show. Smulders was working around her schedule filming Marvel’s upcoming Nick Fury series Secret Invasion, so they successfully made this appearance happen spells good news for potential future cameos in How I Met Your Father season 2. With its double-sized order of 20 episodes for that season, How I Met Your Father has plenty of time to work out ways to include more exciting cameos of familiar faces and locations alike.
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