Four Weddings and a Funeral the TV series is not Four Weddings and a Funeral the film. The series, which premiered Wednesday on Hulu, might follow a similar story—an American girl falls for a British guy in London over the course of the titular events and an excess of witty banter—but the adaptation, created by Mindy Kaling, is completely reimagined for 2019.
“I’m a huge fan of [Four Weddings writer] Richard Curtis and I know Mindy is as well, and that’s what drew us to this project,” says Tracey Wigfield, the showrunner and a producer of the series. “We wanted to take the opportunity to do a Curtis-style romantic comedy with the kind of diverse cast you didn’t see in earlier movies.”
And while the new limited series, which will stretch out over 10 episodes, does feature a new cast (including Game of Thrones alum Nathalie Emmanuel and Nikesh Patel) and an updated plot for the contemporary era, it doesn’t shy away from paying homage to the original film—and other romantic comedies of that era—with some Easter Eggs hidden throughout.
“I’m such a fan of those movies myself—Love Actually, Notting Hill, the original Four Weddings—and in this series we wanted to not only nod at the original, but pay homage to that entire cannon,” Wigfield says. “Hopefully we did it justice.”
Here are some of the ways the show did just that—see if you can spot them all.
The Humor (and the Naughty Language)
One thing to remember about the 1993 Four Weddings is that it was really, really funny. In fact, some of us remember learning how to curse creatively from repeated watchings. And that’s something the series certainly doesn’t shy away from.
“There are things from the original movie that were so iconic, like at the beginning when Hugh Grant’s character is late for a wedding and his alarm is going off and he says ‘fuck’ 100 times,” Wigfield says. “Our story starts in a similar way. Nathalie’s character, Maya, wakes up and says ‘fuck’ in a bunch of different ways, but it’s not the same situation. It was a way to pay tribute.”
Another recognizable joke: the famous way wedding invitations would pop on screen to announce a new and unexpected union. “Something everybody remembers from the movie are the wedding invitations that came at fun moments and signaled what the next wedding would be,” Wigfield says. “Curtis did a great job of playing up what the next wedding would be; two people would be flirting, and you’d cut to a wedding invitation for them. We do the same thing in our show. In our finale, because we knew the audience would be anticipating that last wedding, we have a lot of fake outs over who it could be.”
The series opens with a version of “Love is All Around,” which made memorable appearances in both Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral. And later on the series, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” which accompanied Hugh Grant’s famously lovelorn walk in Notting Hill, plays as Patel’s Kash goes on his own stroll through London. Of course, the production used different versions of the songs designed to feel fresh.
“We did British covers of pop songs, so it did feel like London in 2019 and very exciting and now,” Wigfield says. “I’m hoping it’s the kind of thing that, if you love Notting Hill, you’ll notice as a cool new thing. And if you don’t know it, you’ll just think we came up with the whole thing ourselves.”
While 1990s fashion doesn’t play a big role in the new Four Weddings, there are moments when eagle-eyed viewers will catch the series referencing its forebears. Like in the pilot when, at a costume party, characters can be seen dressed as Lloyd Dobler from 1989’s Say Anything…, Cher and Dionne from 1995’s Clueless, and a Playboy bunny a la Bridget Jones’s Diary and Legally Blonde.
The Grand Gestures
“There are iconic moments in the original Four Weddings that, even though this is a new story, felt important to tether us to that original,” Wigfield says. “This is still a story about an American girl who falls in love with a British guy over the course of four weddings and a funeral. While their friends are getting married and dying, they keep running into one another. That’s at the center of it.”
There are also less obvious nods to the original, like setting scenes at airports—a favorite trick of earlier romantic comedies. “Heathrow plays a big part in our show,” Wigfield says. “It’s where our two leads have their meeting, it’s where Kash’s dad works, and it plays a big part in our finale as well.”
It’s also where Rebecca Rittenhouse’s character, Ainsley, shows up to meet a friend at the airport and recreates one of the most famous scenes from any romantic comedy. “Usually we do a twist on a trope you’ve seen before, but sometimes it’s just a rip off,” Wigfield says. “We ape that moment from Love Actually when Mark shows up at Keira Knightley’s door with those cue cards.”
Eagle-eyed fans will also notice that some iconic rom-com lines—like Andie MacDowell’s breathy “is it still raining, I hadn’t noticed”—will find their way into conversation.
Yes, most of the actors in the series are newcomers to the Four Weddings world, but that doesn’t mean they all are. Andie MacDowell makes an appearance as the mother of one of the main characters—but it wasn’t always a given she’d be part of the series.
“We wrote characters first and then were open to casting,” says Wigfield. “We had a part and were wondering if Andie would do it because it would be so great to see her again. She was totally game, and it all worked out.” (There are also actors in smaller roles who you might recognize from great romantic comedies gone by. As the showrunner says, “Our casting director was definitely looking for people from those worlds.”)
But there is one big name the series couldn’t snag. “Hugh Grant didn’t want to do it,” Wigfield says. “We were filming in his neighborhood—I feel like we shot on his block—but he didn’t want to come outside. We’re still big fans, though.”
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