Hulu’s “What if Four Weddings and A Funeral but also The Fugitive?” isn’t a bad way to spend summer’s end.
Everyone’s had that “wedding season” experience. You meet a stranger at the start of the summer and have a great time flirting—perhaps more—with them by the bar and on the dance floor. It feels like a fun one-time thing, but then you keep running into each other at every other reception over the next few months. Before you know it, you’re having a full-fledged affair and running from the police because you’re both suspected of murdering an entire wedding party. You know, standard mid-20s wedding season fun.
Ok, perhaps that’s not the typical experience. For anxious to love and be loved Stefan (Gavin Drea), though, that’s what Wedding Season is all about. After a chance encounter with Katie (Rosa Salazar) at a wedding, he’s utterly smitten. Even learning of her engagement to another man Hugo Delaney (George Webster) doesn’t dissuade him. That leads him to try to derail her wedding in the series’ first scene. In short order, that also lands him in handcuffs when the entire wedding party, save Katie, ends up dead from poisoning after the first toast. With Katie in the wind, Stefan is a likely accomplish if not suspect #1 himself.
Drea strikes the right balance between being romantically appealing, deeply frustrating, and subtly self-destructive. He makes Stefan’s hunger for marriage understandable while also making it clear that even in the universe of Wedding Season, this isn’t an entirely admirable trait. While only a small piece of the character—and the action—the actor’s articulation of spending his whole life striving for stability and “normalcy” while still feeling most comfortable amongst the bedlam is a strong piece of business. Like many with chaotic childhoods—Stefan spent most of his life in foster care—he wants what he perceives others as having and yet can never feel quite comfortable when he obtains it.
That’s undoubtedly a huge part of Katie’s appeal to him. Played as a hot and cold whirling dervish of schemes by Salazar, anyone can read bad news on her from her first moments. However, viewers can also understand why anyone, but Stefan in particular, would be drawn to her. For people who know her best as that Battle Angel Alita, the role should be a welcome shock. The versatility she brings to this perpetually wounded and wounding character is noteworthy. It’s difficult to portray a core in a character who is putting on and shedding personalities constantly and purposely, but Salazar finds it for Katie.
[Gavin] Drea strikes the right balance between being romantically appealing, deeply frustrating, and subtly self-destructive.
Wedding Season gets its adrenaline from Stefan and Katie’s attempts to elude capture and prove their (seeming) innocence. Where the series is at its best though is during the wedding-related events that define the timeline. Stefan’s friends—where the show gets the biggest Four Weddings and a Funeral vibe—give delightful life to the proceedings. Whether engaging in a drinking game that would kill lesser people or breaking into an apartment with the help of YouTube video on lockpicking, they’re wonderful fun.
Leila (Callie Cooke), the sensible attorney who wants nothing to do with planning her upcoming wedding, is a personal fave. However, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch, including Leila’s fiancé Jackson (Omar Baroud), who is so obsessed with planning their nuptials that every reception sends him into a deeper hole; Suji (Ioanna Kimbook), the one friend as terrified to be alone as Stefan; and Anil (Bhav Joshi) the fuckboi turned relationship expert after he and his boyfriend are exclusive for a month. They also reflect how Stefan has been, probably without knowing it, courting stability and chaos in equal measure for years.
The various parties and receptions are appealingly heightened while not shattering the world Wedding Season has constructed. The fugitive portions strain a bit more as the single—albeit outrageous—multiple murder quickly balloons into vast conspiracy. However, the speed of the show and the characters’ commitment to it keep it all from spinning off its axis.
Hulu only provided eight of the nine episodes with the eighth ending on a precarious situation. If handled badly that development could definitely derail the series. However, 8/9 of the way there, it has been a propulsive journey that rewards close watching. It juggling mystery, humor, and a surprisingly healthy heaping of heart is an impressive act. Without the ninth episode, one can’t recommend joining it on an international fugitive escapade. Still, it’s at least worth a makeout in a fitting room or two.
Wedding Season walks down the aisle beginning September 9th on Hulu.