The 10-episode season of Four Weddings and a Funeral, based on the show of the same name, has finally ended. The show touted to be a mini-series, was based on the film of the same name. FWAAF, which has an ensemble cast was created by Mindy Kaling and Matt Wattburton. The show is based on the lives of four friends played by Nathalie Emmanuel, Nikesh Patel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Brandon Mychal Smith, and John Paul Reynolds.
Four Weddings and a Funeral follows four American friends – Maya, Craig, Ainsley, and Duffy – with the exception of Maya have settled down in London and soon assemble for an elaborate wedding. But the wedding doesn’t go as planned and their friendship is soon tested. There is a lot of romance and heartbreak. Relationships are forged and broken, a certain friendship is put to the ultimate test, while some are hiding their secrets and others are harboring unrequited feelings.
While the tonality of the show is campy, the show plays all the tropes of romantic comedies. Just like the original film, this series too is based on contemporary love. However, what the show lacked was a homosexual wedding, which was the main talking point of the 1994 British film and said to be revolutionary for its time. But the reboot almost 30 years later, had all heterosexual couples and weddings. But, that is not the only problem with the show.
Okay, spoilers ahead.
Kash leaves Ainsley at the altar, after a chance meeting with Maya that forms the main storyline of the show.
Some thoughts on the Hollywood culture of romance. Am I the only one who feels a certain inherent meanness in the romance genre? I mean, all popular entertainment has some cruelty of spirit embedded in it, but the rom-com, for all their gentle demeanor, can be especially vicious. For the audience to root for the dreamy couple, somebody has to play the bad partner, the terrible ex. More often that’s a woman, the male lead’s “wrong” romantic choice, but roles could be reversed too. For any rom-com to gain entry into the hallowed halls of the classics, this woman, the man’s past mistake has to fit into one of very few, very specific stereotypes. career bitch, dumb bimbo, gold digger, frigid bore, etc. Often a combination of more than one of the above. Almost always terrible with kids.
The lead female’s romantic mistake more or less reflects the same tropes, with some misogyny written in sometimes. So he’s the sexist businessman, sexist gym bro, sexist greedy asshole, or boring banker because if he’s not sexist, he’s boring. How convenient! One specific trope I hate from the bottom of my heart is the runaway bride (the trope, not just the movie, but obviously also the movie) or the runaway groom (but let’s face it, that’s not as cute, hilarious and mushy as a woman in a white gown at an airport).
The media’s use of the trope
It saddens me how frequently and comfortably movies, as well as TV shows, resort to this. Only How I Met Your Mother deals with the wreckage that a canceled wedding leaves behind, but then that guy goes ahead and elopes with someone else’s bride later in the show. Even if you spend a whole movie setting up the romantic mistake as someone who deserves to be humiliated instead of let down privately with respect and dignity, I can never find myself rooting for someone who does that to another flawed human. Moreover, note how the burden of being “okay with it”, forgiving and moving on is almost always placed on the wronged party. In Friends, Rachel does go and apologize to Barry, but the show somehow manages to still make him look bad. Same with Emily, who most certainly deserved better.
Gilmore Girls doesn’t demonize Medina, but neither is Lorelei ever really held to account or seen feeling any real remorse for dumping him. That’s supposed to be one of the defining feminist shows. Coming back to Runaway Bride, the movie, if you have a history of dumping men at the altar, you should be in therapy, not getting engaged over and over again. So the whole town laughs at you, boohoo.
Coming back to Four Weddings and a Funeral, Ainsley gets a rough deal, but are we really supposed to root for the leads, when the male lead has been toxic to his ex? Running off from a wedding is not cute and quirky. It’s not funny, nor a substitute for personality. It’s cruel and it’s hurting other people. Something that can scar people emotionally and may need years to come out of it.