The 35-year-old Gossip Girl alum pops up on the new Hulu series, which premiered on Tuesday, January 18, as Meredith, an ex-girlfriend of Jesse (Christopher Lowell). While Meester’s appearance may have been unexpected to viewers, showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger teased that there could be big plans in store for her character as the season continues.
“Just having Leighton Meester in that one little viral video certainly seems like a waste of Leighton Meester,” Aptaker joked while speaking with Us Weekly exclusively before HIMYF‘s debut. “I think that it is reasonable to expect that she’ll be returning at some point.”
Hilary Duff stars as Sophie, a hopeless romantic searching for The One, on the spinoff of How I Met Your Mother. Though Aptaker and Berger wanted to create a different world for the new series, they gave longtime HIMYM fans a common thread to connect to the original sitcom, which ended in 2014 after nine seasons.
“I think we really right off the bat really wanted to show, you know, this is a new show, this is a new cast and we’re gonna be on a sort of entirely new ride here,” Berger told Us. “At the same time, we also wanted to make clear that we do exist in the same universe and include a little touch for the very devoted How I Met Your Mother fan base that shows that we’re in that universe right away.”
The first episode of the reboot includes little Easter eggs from the OG series, including the instantly recognizable apartment, which felt like “the exact right level” to kickstart “this whole new adventure,” Berger added.
Callbacks to the “iconic” HIMYM world were just as meaningful to the creators as they will be for viewers. “Walking onto the stage that first time [and seeing how] that set was so beautifully reconstructed, it was really cool and emotional to sort of be like, ‘Oh, wow, we’re really continuing this story,'” Aptaker told Us.
While fans should “absolutely” be on the lookout for more connections throughout the Hulu show, the clues might not come in the form of cameos from former HIMYM stars. The original series featured Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan and Cristin Milioti, with the late Bob Saget providing narration throughout each of the nine seasons.
“In terms of the original cast returning, it’s something that we are very aware that people would love to catch up with those beloved characters and see where they’re at. So perhaps,” Aptaker teased of potential surprise appearances. “But I think people will just have to stick with the show and wait and see. Nothing’s off the table.”
The idea for a follow-up to the wildly popular CBS comedy was first floated several years ago, and after a few hiccups in the process, a 10-episode season was finally ordered in April 2021. With Duff, 34, leading the ensemble — and with Kim Cattrall taking over as narrator — the executive producers are “very excited” for fans to follow along with “this perfect, fresh, funny group” of characters.
“We think we did it. We think people are gonna fall in love pretty quickly with our gang here,” Berger told Us. “And we think it’s a really fun, hopefully truthful snapshot of dating in 2022 in a way that maybe hasn’t been explored in this way, and we’re really excited for people to see that too.”
New episodes of How I Met Your Father hit Hulu every Tuesday.
With reporting by Stephanie Webber