Friday, August 16, 2019

How Four Weddings and a Funeral Made Me Mad

I was intrigued at Hulu's "Four Weddings and a Funeral" mini-series and added it to the watchlist. The main group of friends is all American now, having landed in London (for the most part) after attending school there. 
It is clearly more reboot than remake, some of these characters are brown, non-Christian. It does appear so far, that they are all straight though. (There are some very secondary characters who might not be straight.) There is also no one who has a nickname that makes fun of their looks, which is nice.
Given the longer stretch of time, more time occurs between the weddings, which is interesting although is does somewhat take away from some of the fun of figuring out what happened to people between these stretches of time. 
The first episode Maya meets Kash at the airport only to later discover he is dating her friend Ainsley. Obviously that's a tough line, but one assumes fast forwards of time, other relationships this all gets worked out. 
We also have Duffy who's apparently been silently in love with Maya forever, Gemma - Ainsley's British best friend, and Craig who is dating a girl he doesn't treat very well, and has a secret. 
My anger came from the Maya storyline so I will focus there. 
It doesn't seem much of a spoiler - since it happens in the first episode - to tell you it takes until the wedding between Kash and Ainsley for Kash to realize that he's not on the track he wants to be so he bails (sadly mid-wedding). The show by then had worked hard to show Maya and Kash still having chemistry and likes in common. Here's where I will get more spoilery as we move into the third episode and on. 

Meanwhile Duffy decided to date someone who was great and listened to him and then decided life was short and dumped her and declared himself to Maya. Which sure. But where I went what now, was when Maya responded positively. Because the show had worked to demonstrate Maya's things in common and interest with Kash and had shown Duffy to pay particular attention to Maya but it had done nothing to make me believe Maya liked Duffy. Nothing. So it seemed like a fake speed bump so that when she and Kash saw each other again he couldn't ditch his girlfriend for Maya. 
Yes, we first met Maya involded in a relationship with a married man.  Yes, the show is telling us (and showing us) she has made bad decisions about men.  But somehow Duffy thinks he deserves her.  I'm not saying she's too good for him, she's not.  But the show seems to be treating Duffy's decision to toss aside the fellow teacher who read his 1400 page manuscript because she was nice but no spark as Duffy chasing his dream.  Whereas Maya dating Duffy and then ultimately deciding that it was nice but no spark because she realized she wasn't over Kash even though obviously he wasn't available to her, seems to be Maya continues to make bad decisions about men.  Even though she is actually trying very hard to make good decisions. 
I'm going to confess some of my anger about this - besides the idea that I honestly think you should shower jewels upon anyone who loves you enough to read your 1400 page manuscript.  (For those less clear on this, 1400 pages is about the size of three novels.  It is too long for one, even if it was an epic fantasy with a glossary in back which this is not.)  But, putting that to the side, I actually can tell that the show is planning to hook Duffy up with Gemma. So basically, I can already see who everyone is going to end up with, which is again a sign that the show knows how to signal these things to me when they want to and there was still no sign that Maya was going to respond to Duffy.  Not even a post-first hook up comment that for once she was dating a good guy.  
And Duffy has also gotten short shrift here, he is the character who longs, who notices that Maya hadn't attended a funeral since her mom's, that Ainsley was going to regret missing Craig's wedding, but he's also the guy who dumped a nice fellow teacher for lack of spark.  He made his students open his publishing letters. He decided a non-specific letter Maya wrote and then left in his jacket was to him even though it specifically said that things were complicated and that she knew wanting him was bad for her.  And look, I get it.  We'd all love to be a moment away from getting what we want.  But if that letter had been about him, then that would be him realizing that she thinks they should not be together but he should override her wishes.  And that's also gross.  
And in the end. I still feel this storyline gives Maya the shortest shrift.  Because Maya's the one who now can't make a choice that allows for her own happiness without having to hurt not one but two cast members who actually have only a limited say in her life choices.  Meanwhile another cast member got to handwave away a whole child.  (So far.)
So yeah, in the end everyone got what they wanted and needed.  But the framing of one character's journey made her look like more of a bad person than it needed to.  
I am still watching but the show is going to have to do some heavy lifting on both the Maya and Duffy fronts to redeem this for me.