Part of the joy in the original How I Met Your Mother came from its random relationships. Even when Ted’s dates didn’t stay around long, his women-of-the-week always revealed something surprisingly honest and funny about the challenges of dating in your late 20s and early 30s. And for its first major romantic interest, How I Met Your Father has picked an excellent one. Hulu is turning Josh Peck into a certified hunk. And honestly? It’s about damn time.
From his very first appearance, Peck’s Drew has been a highlight of this show that’s still struggling to find its voice. We’re introduced to Principal Drew in “The Fixer” as Sophie (Hilary Duff) tries unsuccessfully to take a good picture of Jesse (Christopher Lowell) for Tinder. Sophie and Drew’s first encounter is filled with half-jokes about Sophie being a child predator and pleas for her to leave. Yet, Peck still manages to make those first moments feel like a meet cute right out of a romance novel. That slow, sincere smile, the way Peck manages to deliver swoon-worthy compliments as if he just thought of them. No wonder Sophie asked for his number.
But it’s not until “Dirty Thirty” that HIMYF embraces the full extent of Drew’s charm. It’s an episode that feels straight from How I Met Your Mother‘s heyday, both an insightful look at dating paired with classic sitcom antics. After having dinner with Drew at a place that doesn’t list its prices, Sophie comes to a horrifying realization. While she and her friends spend their free time doing shots and planning parties around Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty” video, Drew has been learning about wine and making overnight oats. They may be the same age, but they’re in two completely different places. Throughout the rest of the episode, Sophie scrambles to make her birthday party classier in an attempt to impress Drew. Of course, it all falls apart, and, of course, hijinks ensue.
Peck’s performance elevates this saga of two incompatible singles to full-on romantic catnip. It’s not just that Peck is a very attractive man with a killer smile. It’s the way he wields both his comedic timing and natural charm. Most of the jokes Drew has in the episode are dad joke-adjacent, a move that perfectly reflects how mature this man is. Somehow Peck is able to make Drew’s bad jokes feel cute and refreshing. You want to see more of him, and you want him to stay by Sophie’s side.
But it’s Peck’s gentle delivery that really seals the deal. Toward the end of the episode, Drew jokes that he typically saves his renditions of TRL’s greatest hits for the sixth date. When Sophie asks him if that means there’s going to be a sixth date, Drew softly replies, “God, I hope so.” Peck infuses so many emotions into those four breathless words: unbridled hope, longing, happiness, the promise of comfort and peace. That “God, I hope so” is everything. It’s potential. It’s exactly the sort of quiet sentence you hope to hear from someone you’re not in love with yet, but you can see a future together. “God, I hope so” is full-on marriage material.
Ultimately, we know that Sophie isn’t going to end up with Drew. The very premise of the show is that she winds up with someone in her haphazard little friend group. But at least for a few more episodes, How I Met Your Father is going to let us fantasize what a life could look like with this handsome, responsible dreamboat. Really, can you ask for anything more?