Kaling loves them so much that she is now trying to replicate their unmistakable vibe. Curtis’s rom-com style invites us into a strain of British lifestyle that can be soothingly escapist; he writes crunchy-gravel period pieces that have the extra advantage of being modern. The characters glide along a very fine line between socioeconomic reality and fantasy, as their upper middle-classdom leads to transcendent displays of satisfaction. Even if you do not like those movies, it is difficult to resist their gooey allure.
And harder still to copy, as co-creators Kaling and Matt Warburton unfortunately demonstrate in Hulu’s lethargic “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (premiering Wednesday). The mood they are going for in this poorly conceived and surprisingly clumsy series version eludes their grasp, no matter that Curtis himself is credited as a producer. Even the spark Kaling and Warburton previously brought to “The Mindy Project” is in short supply here.
This “Four Weddings and a Funeral” bears little to no resemblance to the movie or its plot, except for the fact that it is set in London and draws its meaning from the obvious: We live, we die and some of us get married in between. Besides reserving a matronly bit part for Andie MacDowell (who co-starred in the 1994 movie), there is no compelling reason to sully the movie’s good name this way.
Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei to “Game of Thrones” fans) stars as Maya, a political staffer having an affair with her U.S. senator boss. When that situation goes predictably wrong, Maya seeks refuge in London, where three of her American besties from college have made lives for themselves: aspiring novelist Duffy (John Paul Reynolds); successful investment banker Craig (Brandon Mychal Smith); and Maya’s best friend, Ainsley (Rebecca Rittenhouse), a boutique owner who is engaged to marry Craig’s co-worker, a Londoner named Kash (Nikesh Patel).
Maya has already (and unwittingly) met Kash, in an earlier moment of mutual attraction at Heathrow airport. Now it’s awkward.
But the show never depicts awkwardness in the right way. It is never clever in the expected fashion. Never funny where it tries to be; never as engaging as it wants to be; never able to envelop a viewer in the range of emotions one might equate with the words “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”
Saddled with too many expat American characters, the show longs to focus on the far more interesting British characters and their social milieu. The stories and subplots do evolve some, but the dialogue remains excruciatingly flat (and often just corny), while the annoyingly dull cast seems incapable of giving the material much lift. As the show inevitably crawls in the direction of four weddings, is it wrong to just root for more funerals?
Four Weddings and a Funeral (10 episodes) premieres Wednesday on Hulu with episodes 1-4. Additional episodes will stream weekly.