Greta Gerwig, the co-writer and star of last year’s Frances Ha and an icon of independent film, has sent some purists into despair by accepting the lead role in the new CBS sitcom How I Met Your Dad, a spinoff from the long-running hit How I Met Your Mother.
How I Met Your Mother is currently in its ninth and final season on CBS. In the new spinoff, the 30-year-old Sacramento, California-born Greta Gerwig plays “Sally,” a late-20s New Yorker who is said to be basically a female version of the original sitcom’s “Ted.”
As MTV News noted, “she’s essentially playing the same part she did in Frances Ha.” In both the well-received indie movie and the sure-fire hit sitcom, Gerwig plays a 20-something New Yorker “who has never grown up and has no idea of where she’s going in life,” MTV described.
Gerwig earned a Golden Globe nomination for her lead performance in the eponymous Frances Ha. She previously starred in the early such mumblecore films as LOL and Hannah Takes The Stairs, which she also co-wrote.
“Mumblecore” films are made on extremely low budgets and usually feature improvised or highly naturalistic dialogue from characters who tend to be in their 20s and searching for a purpose in life that never seems to emerge.
But the news that Gerwig, who with her current boyfriend — the director Noah Baumbach — is known as prime figure in the mumblecore genre, is accepting the lead role in not just a TV show, but a sitcom that’s about as mainstream as mainstream gets has led to cries of “sell out” from her most ardent fans.
I tear up each time an indie starlet sells out RT @ajmarechal Greta Gerwig to star in HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER spinoff http://t.co/NikdoFMIZF
— Andrew Wallenstein (@awallenstein) February 12, 2014
A brilliantly funny writer and performer is going to use her copious talents to transform a network sitcom. How ghastly.
— C. Mason Wells (@cmasonwells) February 12, 2014
On the other hand, as New Yorker film critic Richard Brody notes, independent film unlike its mainstream Hollywood counterpart, is not a big moneymaker for anyone involved. Most indie filmmakers and actors don’t quit their day jobs, Brody says. Then he asks, won’t a lucrative network sitcom make the ideal “day job” for Greta Gerwig, assuming she wants to continue making independent films.
“If the pilot for Gerwig’s show is picked up, she’ll be busy for—a third of the year? Half?” Brody says. “And she’ll have a reliable source of income that will free her up to work on projects that inspire her uninhibited passion.”
But Greta Gerwig will also be a producer on the How I Met Your dad series,which is currently signed only as a pilot and has yet to be picked up for a full series by CBS. She will also be a writer on the show giving hope, as Los Angeles Times writer Meredith Blake muses, that Greta Gerwig could bring her indie sensibility to major network television.