The Hulu series Wedding Season (2022-)—not to be confused with the Netflix movie also named Wedding Season (2022)—starts off with a scene that seems straight out of a rom-com, but then it throws in a twist, and then another twist, and then another… Well, you get the gist. It took me a couple of episodes (they’re only 30 minutes each) to really settle into the series, in part because all those twists kept me unbalanced, in part because it jumps back and forth in time, and in part because I wasn’t quite sure what the lead female character was supposed to stand for. Also, maybe because of so many zigs and zags, the series sometimes felt a little slow. But, overall, and buoyed a lot by a crew of very funny supporting characters, I thought it was an enjoyable mix of fizzy rom-com and jaunty thriller. Plus, it ends with quite the bang, which I guess is teasing a possible second season?
Stefan (Gavin Drea) crashes Katie McDonnell’s (Rosa Salazar) huge wedding ceremony to the extremely wealthy and powerful Hugo Delaney (George Webster), mistakenly thinking she will run away with him. Things do not go as planned. Instead, she tells him off right in front of everyone, he gets tackled by some security guards, and then he goes home alone to ice his black eye and moan to his friends.
Later, his door is broken down by a hoard of policemen in riot gear who haul him away to be questioned about Katie’s whereabouts. It seems the entire Delaney family was poisoned and died (plop!) face down on their plates at the wedding dinner, at which point Katie took off running, which makes her look very guilty—or, you know, maybe just someone who doesn’t feel comfortable sitting at a head table filled with fresh corpses. Time will tell.
As Stefan is being questioned by police partners Metts (Jade Harrison) and Donahue (Jamie Michie), the story flashes back to how he and Katie first met—at the first wedding of the season, when Katie stole someone’s cellphone, shortly after Stefan, who believes he needs marriage like a goldfish needs water, disastrously proposed to his barely there girlfriend and then got high to escape his sorrows. Katie doesn’t know the couple getting hitched, but her fiancé, Hugo Delaney, used to date the bride. Stefan, it should be noted, hates Hugo with a fiery and very justified passion. Hugo is a Grade A Fuckwit, who also makes some very disturbing art. At first, I was concerned that Katie could be an impish male-written female anti-heroine—a big-eyed vixen in baby-doll dresses who is so childlike and seductive (gross combo) that it seems no man can resist her charms. Thankfully, she’s far more complex and nuanced than that.
However, we do learn in this first flashback that Stefan’s friends are an absolutely delightful group of snarky and snippy and loyal people. Suji (Ioanna Kimbook) very much wants to be married, but is clearly terrified of commitment because she keeps hooking up with wholly unavailable people. Watching her accidentally try to chat up a fourteen-year-old at a wedding is only cringey and amusing because the series knows exactly when to pull the brakes on the whole scenario. Jackson (Omar Baroud) is always pounding on about the chains of monogamy and how he’s glad to be free, but he also accidentally blares his ex’s fantasy fanfic, which he hasn’t deleted from his computer, while DJing a friend’s wedding. When he meets a guy in the bathroom—”no apps, no anything. Like, an IRL public convenience hook-up”—he says he feels like “Alan Turing, or something.” It’s such a specific and vaguely macabre reference that I barked with laughter. Anil (Bhav Joshi) and Leila (Callie Cooke) are in the thick of planning their own wedding, which Anil wants to be Pinterest perfect, while Leila wants him to stop fretting immediately. They bicker about it constantly, but without any animosity. All these people provide real material and emotional support to Stefan and serve as a central anchor-point to the story, but they also add a necessary layer of humor and wit to the series.
So, just when things are looking pretty dire for Stefan in the interrogation—there are allusions to multiple times Stefan and Katie have been together over the past several months—an alarm sounds to evacuate the building. In the chaos, Katie slips a flustered and suspicious Stefan out from under the police’s noses, and they go on the run together. Stefan isn’t entirely sure whether Katie killed the Delaney family or not. Frankly, neither are we at this point, which is part of the fun, of course. But he doesn’t have much choice but to follow her off into the Scottish countryside where their faces are plastered across every paper and it’s possible that, in addition to the entire police force, some very unfriendly people are also on their trail.
As they flee, the timeline moves back and forth between the recent past and the present—though sometimes it dips into the less recent past as well—gradually contextualizing Stefan and Katie’s relationship and questioning whether he really was so misguided in declaring his love before a church full of people while she was busy marrying someone else. Oh, right, and also the murder part. It digs into how all those people ended up dead with Katie and Stefan looking for all the world like co-conspirators. Obviously, all of this is going to involve more characters and layers than just Stefan and Katie. Misdirection is half the fun in a series like this.
After their first smash in a bathroom stall (ah, romance!!), Stefan can’t stop thinking about Katie at all. He tells his friends that it’s not that he needs things to keep going with her, he just needs closure. They’re not buying this, and with good reason. Remember that it wasn’t too long ago that this same man made a desperation proposal to a different woman at a friend’s wedding. Anyway, Katie pops up near the next wedding of the season, which might be fate or a coincidence, but Stefan is determined to find out if there’s a chance that they’re meant to be more than a one-time thing. The wedding itself is a fantastic mess of an affair, which saves itself from being offensive in its humor because of the underlying current of caring and friendship. (You can make a lot more jokes when you do it without meanness, folks.) What Stefan finds out about Katie that day—or sort of finds out about her— is also pretty messy, but he still can’t stop thinking about why she’s with someone like Hugo, which he talks to his friends about ad nauseam. We’ve all been on both sides of this equation, right?
I think at this point in the series I still wasn’t convinced because everything is very much from Stefan’s perspective, which was likely intentional on the part of the creators since Katie is still meant to be a cypher at this point. That said, you can see why I was concerned that she would be more of a vessel for male ideas than an actual whole, real person. We don’t get to see things from her side until much later in the series and it’s not for that much time, really, but her character development and her motivations are laid out more clearly as the story progresses. There are times when her story seems a little overwrought and drawn out, but it mostly works in the end for its poignancy, I think. I can’t explain that here though without giving away spoilers, which, if you haven’t seen the show, you absolutely do not want.
In the present, Katie and Stefan aren’t on the best of terms. Public embarrassment and suspecting someone of mass murder, along with some other not-so-minor hiccups, will put some strain on a relationship like that, but their arguing is engaging and kept at the banter level for the most part. These two have a good rom-com chemistry that’s never stretched too thin by the thriller part of the series. At one point, when they’re fleeing across water from a slew of people with large guns, and arguing as they go, Katie yells at Stefan that she doesn’t like him “very much right now,” which is funny and realistic. It’s always clear that he cares deeply for her, even when he’s unsure if she’s a good person. And while, as I’ve drilled into you, her character is meant to be more mysterious and harder to read, her actions and some of her words are more positively affirming than, say, some other rom-coms I’ve watched recently.
Just like his friends, the weddings themselves add a lot of humor to the series. Each one has its own very distinct flavor, which ties into where Stefan and Katie are on their journey to figuring things out. One wedding is driving school themed, another beach-themed, one has many themes and takes place in a swimming pool, and the one that has my favorite character involves a dress that lights up and has its own plane—the dress, not the wedding.
But does this series feel realistic? Well, it seems pretty unlikely that Stefan’s face would heal so well from all his various and sustained beatings and bruises in such a short time, but I think we can let it slide for the sake of his face. As for the rest of it, I’m not sure that it matters? What matters is that when you’re caught up in it you feel like it could happen or you’d like it to be able to happen that way. Rom-coms and thrillers are both a form of breathless fantasy, which is why these two genres mesh so well on this series. It can also feel grand and gothic in one moment and then small and homely the next, which adds some interesting texture to the whole story.
Kind of like the series, this is a long and roundabout way of telling you that I think it’s pretty solid if you like comedy, adventure, thrillers, mystery, and rom-coms. The leads and central storyline are engaging, but it’s the supporting cast and their storylines that really give the series the boost it needs to keep all eight episodes feeling flush. And, if I may, I’d like to end with a request: Bring back Mitzi. In a second season of this show. In some other show. Just go ahead and cast Poppy Liu in all the things. Also, more Suji in this and everything. Thank you.