'How I Met Your Father': Why the Laugh Track Initially 'Terrified' Hilary Duff

As fans of classic sitcoms may recall, laugh tracks were once very common on television. Recordings of audience laughter would play after every joke or silly moment, encouraging viewers to laugh, too. Laugh tracks have become somewhat outdated in the last few decades, but that didn’t stop Hulu’s How I Met Your Father from bringing back the old trend. Unfortunately, many viewers disapproved of the device. And according to star Hilary Duff, she wasn’t initially too fond of it, either.

‘How I Met Your Father’ faced criticism for including a laugh track

Laugh tracks were most common in sitcoms between the 1950s and 1970s. However, a few still popped up in comedies throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, including Friends, Seinfeld, and How I Met Your Mother, the show that inspired Hulu’s spinoff. As the years went on, laugh tracks lost their charm for many sitcom fans. That’s why many How I Met Your Father fans criticized the show for including a laugh track.

How I Met Your Father was cute! It’s only been two episodes, but I’m still enjoying it. I feel like it would do so much better without a laugh track, though. I get the original had one, but it’s so dated to have one. It’s also a Hulu show,” one viewer wrote on Twitter.

Some viewers were annoyed by the laugh track almost instantly.

“Turned on How I Met Your Father, and 30 seconds in the laugh track is already unbearable,” another person added.

“I wish How I Met Your Father didn’t have a laugh track, laugh tracks in 2022 feel weird. I don’t want people alerting me when to laugh,” one user tweeted.

Hilary Duff was ‘terrified’ of the laugh track in ‘How I Met Your Father’

Hilary Duff, who plays protagonist Sophie in How I Met Your Father and serves as executive producer, had concerns about the laugh track. She recently revealed to RadioTimes.com that she was “terrified” of it because it seemed so outdated. Duff said that it took some getting used to, but she and her castmates eventually accepted it.

“It was very scary at first, and I had to watch the first two episodes probably three times before I could get used to it, and now it doesn’t bother me at all,” the former Disney star explained.

As frightening as the laugh track was, Duff admitted that she understood why How I Met Your Father’s creators wanted to include it.

“The format of the show is a sitcom, and I think that the laugh track that they use is very conscious – and not over the top like some sitcoms – but it is needed,” she added. “And it does help carry the show along at some points.”

‘HIMYF’ co-creator Isaac Aptaker defended the laugh track

Despite the backlash, How I Met Your Father co-creator Isaac Aptaker has no regrets about including the laugh track. He told RadioTimes.com that it was an important factor in making the spinoff feel like How I Met Your Mother.

“It feels like if you’re doing How I Met Your Father, it should feel like you’re in the same world as How I Met Your Mother. So it should look the same and have the same vibe to it, and that does include the laugh track,” Aptaker said. “And yes, some people think it’s too old-fashioned or corny. … And then I think a lot of people find it really comforting and familiar, and like the TV that they grew up loving. So hopefully, those who can’t get on board learn to live with it.”

How I Met Your Father Season 1 is now streaming on Hulu. A second season with double the episodes is already on its way.

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