There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to capitalize off the brand of a movie or television title. The problem with rebooting or remaking any property, however, is that it will invariably be compared to the original. Some shows like Fargo and the forthcoming Watchmen can successfully sidestep that comparison by specifically creating new stories that only seek to maintain the spirit of the original, while some remakes have successfully improved upon their forebearers (Queer Eye, Battlestar Gallactica, One Day at a Time).
Mindy Kaling’s new Hulu series, Four Weddings and a Funeral falls into another camp, where inviting those comparisons actually does a great disservice to the series. Four Weddings and a Funeral itself is a fine and occasionally winning show about a group of millennials dealing with life and love (mostly) in London. It is suitably charming, occasionally funny, and the cast is fairly likable. It is an altogether pleasant series.
Compared to the original Four Weddings and a Funeral movie, however, the Hulu series is trash. It’s not necessarily Mindy Kaling’s fault, but how can anyone expect to compete with the 1994 original, a combination of cast and script so perfectly suited to the times? You can remake a premise, but you cannot remake lovely.
It doesn’t help, either, that while the movie takes place almost entirely within the confines of those four weddings and a funeral, the series is like eight or ten 40ish minute episodes where we largely find ourselves waiting around for the next wedding or a funeral (through the first four episodes I’ve seen, there’s been one wedding and one funeral, the latter of which — as in the movie — is easily the highlight of the series). It doesn’t help, either, that while the Hulu series is set in London, most of the characters are American transplants, which robs the series of its specifically British sense of humor. Hulu’s version is more of a Mindy Kaling brand of comedy, which is to say: Broader and largely centering around humiliations and misunderstandings.
The cast is great: Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones) plays Maya, an American speechwriter who moves to London to be closer to her college friends; Ainsley (Rebecca Rittenhouse), an interior designer; Duffy (John Reynolds), a teacher and aspiring novelist; and Craig (Brandon Mychal Smith from You’re the Worst), an investment banker (and all four are American). Ainsley is engaged to Craig’s officemate, Kash (Nikesh Patel), for whom Maya may have a thing; Duffy is in love with Maya, although she’s involved with her married boss, a Senator played by Tommy Dewey; and Craig is involved with Zara (Sophia La Porta), a materialism-obsessed woman. Ainsley’s best London friend is Gemma (Zoe Boyle), a sort of stuffy, British housewife jealous of Maya and Ainsley’s friendship. The Gemma character is the closest thing in the show to the original series — and therefore the best character, although Maya and Kash have strong chemistry, while Craig — the only character on the show who seems to have his sh*t together — is the most reliably funny. On the other hand, the Duffy character and his whole mopey obsession with a woman out of his league trope should probably be thrown in a well.
Again, Four Wedding and a Funeral isn’t a bad show — not as good as The Mindy Project but better than Kaling’s short-lived sitcom, Champions — it’s just not in the same league as Four Weddings and a Funeral the movie, which might not be such a bad thing if that weren’t what it was called. I like a Corona every once in a while, but if you promise me an Allagash and deliver me a Corona, I’m going to be disappointed, if you know what I mean. Like the old saying goes, “Don’t piss down my leg and call it Four Weddings and a Funeral.”
Header Image Source: Hulu