FEMINIST WEEKLY

Culture

"Four Weddings and a Funeral" Is a Modern, Diverse Take on the (White) Rom Com

Resham Parikh
August 8, 2019 3:27 PM

Mindy Kaling's Four Weddings and a Funeral takes a classic and re-imagines it from the Bride's side - what happened after Fen was left at the altar? She puts a woman of color at the center (rather than a white man), fills the series with realistic, romantic interracial relationships, hires a diverse cast who all get their own stories to tell, and still pulls off a feel-good, rom com show. Better yet, she makes comical the experience of being an American in London, which is hilariously familiar to those Americans in London watching.

Though it follows the familiar theme of friends looking for (and finding) love in England, Kaling's Four Weddings and a Funeral departs from the movie-esque focus on only one hero/heroine, and by doing so humanizes each character as they traverse the complicated terrains of love, friendship, death, and rejection. The result is a show in which characters of every race, class, and background is truly relatable - and lovable.

The show's main plot centers around the aftermath after Kash (Nikesh Patel), a Pakistani-British investment banker, leaves his gorgeous White American fiancé Ainsley (Rebecca Rittenhouse) at the altar after a chance encounter with her best friend Maya (Nathalie Emmanuel) from the States. Expanding upon the classic "will they or won't they?" rom com storyline, Maya, Kash, and all of the series' characters –Duffy (John Reynolds), Craig (Brandon Mychal Smith), Gemma (Zoe Boyle), Zara (Sophia La Porta), and even Ainsley – fall in and out of love with each other.

A detail many people dont appreciate enough is Kaling's lighthearted script includes a carefully nuanced depiction of gender, upper class (new vs old money) and race/ethnicity in London, as well as everything from council housing in Hackney to town homes in Nottingham - really showing the depth of what it means to be gendered, classed and raced in London. It is no feat to have accomplished such careful consideration of all of these elements in a single show while preserving its light-heartedness.

Some critics have showed themselves to be purists, hearkening back to a 1990s genre that is filled with white characters. Distracted by the title, they are merely looking for a remake of an old classic, missing the expansion of the story line and Kaling's imaginative bending of genre and convention for modern times. If you're looking for a purist's remake, you'll be disappointed – the show is not one, nor is it meant to be. (Though it is quite a delight to see Andie MacDowell make a guest appearance in Episode 3.)

But if you're looking for feel-good television that resists putting whiteness or maleness at its center – this is one of the few diverse rom coms on television right now (The Good Place is another great one), and the only one with a WOC at it's center. And I know I felt great watching it.


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