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‘How I Met Your Father’ Creators Reveal Their Real-Life Messy Moments That Made It Into the Show

Hulu series stars Chris Lowell and Tien Tran also shared their own cringeworthy missteps with TheWrap

Aside from taking inspiration from its predecessor, “How I Met Your Father” creators Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger drew from their own experience navigating adulthood in a messy yet endearing way for the show’s sophomore season — including being locked in the stairwell of a New York skyscraper on the first day of a new job.

“This whole series is very much based on that chapter of our lives where we were living in New York and hanging out with your friends all the time, and your friends are your second family,” Berger told TheWrap of the duo’s time in the East Village while attending New York University. “We are just constantly looking back at that time and channeling those feelings: when you’re still trying to meet your person and it feels like the end of the world if you haven’t met them yet, and you’re texting and getting in your own way and wondering when someone will answer you.”

Pulling directly from the nightmare of a first day Aptaker had when he worked at MTV in his early 20s, the second season’s fourth episode revisited Aptaker’s experience when Ellen (Tien Tran) got stuck in a stairwell minutes before her first training session in the corporate world.

“On my very first day there I locked myself in the fire stairwell of their giant skyscraper at 1515 Broadwick on the 45th floor and did not know what to do,” Aptaker told TheWrap. “We took it to slightly more sitcom heights (on the show) than what happened to me, but that’s one where it’s like that panic of wanting to make a good impression on your first day, and what’s the worst thing that can happen to you carried out to the extreme.”

Sophie’s memorable Tinder date in the show’s pilot episode — in which her date discloses that he had just had sex with someone else — was also “stolen directly” from one of Berger’s girlfriends.

“That felt like only in New York during the dating setting, could that happen,” Berger said. “It’s sort of going back to our own stories and going back to our friends’ stories, and then sort of stealing all of those and putting them in the show.”

While “Pathetic Deirdre,” Sophie (Hilary Duff) and Valentina’s (Francia Raisa) college friend played by Eden Sher, wasn’t based on one specific person the creators knew, the character came out of a “consensus” in the writers’ room, who certainly related to the friends’ somewhat toxic pattern.

“A lot of us had that friend that you kind of call when you need a pick-me-up, because you’re always one step ahead of that person in your life,” Aptaker said. “When you have five writers going, ‘oh, yeah, I have that person,’ it feels like maybe it’s a relatable enough notion that you should put it on TV.”

While the “How I Met Your Father” cast didn’t get to write their experiences into the show, they’ve faced their own share of cringeworthy missteps — including Chris Lowell thanking a Chipotle worker after he misheard his order number for a compliment about his recent movie, or Tien Tran seeing her ex-girlfriend making out with a new woman while Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” played at the bar.

“I was like, ‘Is this a music video?’ Because I was dancing by myself and I watched her make out with someone else,” Tran told TheWrap. “I was like, ‘this is the saddest thing I’ve experienced in my whole life.’ I’m gonna dance, but I’m so sad.”

“How I Met Your Father” is streaming on Hulu. New episodes are released Tuesdays.