When I discovered the television adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral last month, I was shocked to find out it premiered last year. How had I never heard of it? Why didn’t anyone tell me about it? When I googled it, I was surprised by what I found: “Hulu’s ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ pales next to the Hugh Grant movie,” and “‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ Is the Biggest TV Disappointment of the Summer.” Those are just a couple of headlines I stumbled upon. My opinion could be skewed since I saw the Hulu series before watching the film. Maybe those articles would be different if the critics saw the 2019 version first. Imagine a series with diverse, three-dimensional characters was adapted into a movie where we barely get to know the main characters; which one would the critics praise? I am here to explain why the Four Weddings and a Funeral remake is more engaging than the film.
“Ryan Gosling dipped in caramel.”
Through all five social gatherings, I failed to connect with the characters in the 1994 film. Although the 10-episode season gives the series a leg up in the character development department, the film gives little backstory on Charles and his friends. The audience knows that the group of well-off Brits have known each other for years but gives little information about them otherwise. I suppose we did not need to know where the gang went to school or how Carrie ended up in London but I like that the series offers more. I appreciate that Maya, Ainsley, Craig and Duffy went to college in New York and studied abroad together in London. Three of them moved there after school and Maya stayed in the States to pursue a career in politics. They all come from different backgrounds; it adds diversity to the story.
In episode one, Maya flies to London for Ainsley’s wedding and has a moment with a guy at the airport. She does not get his name but she tells her friends about her chance encounter with “Ryan Gosling dipped in caramel.” Next time she sees him, he is at the front of the church waiting for Ainsley to walk down the aisle. I still cannot figure out how Maya had never seen a picture of her best friend’s fiancé but I enjoy seeing the interaction between the two before and after they realize they can never act on their feelings.
“We’re both allergic to the same tree nuts. And I’ve been in love with you for a long time.”
One thing the film and the series have in common is a friend crushing on the main character. In the film, Charles was shocked when his friend, Fiona confessed she had been in love with him for years. He clearly does not feel the same way about her and he does not try to force something to make her happy, which is respectable. I can only imagine how she feels knowing that he has bedded so many women and she’s one of the only ones he doesn’t want. In the adaptation, Duffy tells Maya “we’re both allergic to the same tree nuts. And I’ve been in love with you for a long time.” Maya seems less shocked and later admits to Ainsley that it had crossed her mind before but the timing was never right. I would say a shared nut allergy is not a reason to be together but Duffy and Maya give it a shot anyway. Both Charles and Maya have feelings for other people when these love bombshells are dropped on them by their friends. Ultimately, Charles made the better decision for his friendship but Maya’s choices were much more entertaining to watch.
“Back then we didn’t have what we have now – marriage, adoption. Sam Smith would have been forced to marry Adele.”
I have to admit I was surprised to see a gay couple in the film. Not because it was 25 years ago but because I didn’t realize they were together until Gareth died at the third wedding. There was dialogue that alluded to Matthew’s sexuality but I had no clue he was with Gareth until the eulogy. It is heartbreaking to hear the pain in Matthew’s voice as he reads W. H. Auden’s Funeral Blues. It is painful to hear him speak of the man he loved. A man the pastor calls his “closest friend.” Anyone who has had the love of their life dismissed as a pal, knows how Matthew truly felt in that moment. What would have made it more touching is if we had any idea that the characters were in love before the funeral. There is something to be said about the relationship being so “normal” to the friends that it doesn’t have to be announced. It is nice to see a healthy, established gay relationship where the storyline goes beyond coming out. I just wish they had a storyline at all. The two characters don’t even stand next to each other in promotional photos.
The adaptation gives the gay characters more spotlight. Andrew, Maya’s boss is an openly gay man in Parliament. Tony works for Ainsley. When we see them together for the first time, we find out this isn’t the first time they’ve met. They had slept together before and Tony does not hide his feelings about Andrew’s political record and what he stands for. We see Tony and Andrew make positive changes in each other’s lives. That is the type of relationship I want to see on my screen. Gareth and Matthew are given one scene for the audience to know what they meant to each other. Both storylines make powerful statements but I want to witness the love before tragedy strikes.
I like the original film but knowing more about the characters in the TV show makes me feel like I’ve been invited to the most important moments of their lives. I laughed, I cried and I rooted for my new friends. Four weddings, one funeral and Andie McDowell are really the only commonalities between the two stories. Given the differences, I feel that with a different name this series may have gotten the reception it deserved.
What do you think? Do you prefer the classic or the modern version? Are there remakes you think are better than the originals? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.