Loosely based on the 1994 classic “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” Hulu’s miniseries of the same name sets out to join the resurgence of the romantic comedy genre with a fresh twist. The original film, which follows Charles (Hugh Grant) and Carrie (Andie MacDowell) after they meet at a wedding and struggle with their love story’s timing over the course of three other weddings and a funeral, has become a classic romantic comedy for many. The streaming service’s 10-episode remake, which aired on July 31, held a lot of promise: a diverse cast, modern-day setting and the attachment of Mindy Kaling, a well-known romantic comedy creator and writer, to the project. Although the premise of the series was enough to draw audiences in, the actual episodes don’t seem enough to keep them coming back.
The first episode opens with a homage to the original film as the protagonist, Maya (Nathalie Emmanuel), repeatedly curses as she runs late for work, giving viewers hope for the remake, only to crush it over the next forty minutes. The first thing noticed is how the characters on the show are lacking in everything an audience looks for in a romantic comedy: charm, humor, good relationships—something they always speak of but is never showed on-screen. Plot points like Ainsley’s (Rebecca Rittenhouse) financial dependence on her parents to Duffy’s (John Reynolds) decade-long crush on Maya are trying so hard to be charming that they end up on the complete other end of the spectrum: annoying. Many of the scenes and lines in the show that seem to be written to increase a character’s likability—Kash’s (Nikesh Patel) reluctance to quit his finance job to become an actor or Maya’s attempts to throw unsent love letters off the side of a bridge—never seem to hit the mark as intended, giving them an awkward feel throughout the episodes. Another thing that stands out from the beginning is how unrealistic the series is. Of course, while all romantic comedies are unrealistic, the successful ones are able to keep the story compelling with interesting characters and storylines, two things that Hulu’s remake lacks. One thing the original “Four Weddings” does well in this case is making the protagonist, Hugh Grant’s Charles, so genuine and likable that the audience is rooting for him throughout his journey in the film. Whereas in the Hulu remake, Emmanuel’s Maya is so lacking in redeeming qualities that when everything falls apart for her, there is little sympathy or any strong emotion for her. While the miniseries has the same name and premise of the 1994 original, it lacks the range of emotions and satisfying end of a classic romantic comedy.
NOTE: This mini-review was written for my Reviewing the Arts class this semester at Columbia.