It all begins, as love stories often do, when boy meets girl.
The boy in question is Kash, a successful, handsome British-Pakistani investment banker, and the girl is Maya, a high-flying, beautiful black American communications director to a politician. Their meet-cute? In the throngs of London’s Heathrow airport, where Maya’s missing bag leads her to Kash and sparks fly as they spontaneously share intimate secrets while sitting among racks of lost luggage.
This summer, Hulu’s new 10-episode limited series Four Weddings and a Funeral — inspired by the 1994 film starring a charming, bumbling Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell — revives and redefines a traditional romantic comedy in a new format for a new generation. Co-creator Mindy Kaling says they incorporated the titular life events — four weddings and a funeral — to follow entirely new characters. (See EW’s exclusive first look photos from the show here).
“I wanted to take the themes and the essence of the movie and apply it through my eyes of what I would like to see that I haven’t seen yet,” Kaling, a self-confessed rom-com aficionado, tells EW. “I know so many beautiful, funny, interesting African-American girls and so many handsome, hilarious British-Pakistani and British-Indian guys and I don’t think anyone would put them together if I’m not going to do it.”
And when it came to finding the series’ own Grant and MacDowell, Kaling knew she wanted a diverse couple, the kind not normally featured in romantic comedies. Enter Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel as Maya and Indian Summers actor Nikesh Patel as Kash. “Let’s be honest, Four Weddings is one of the whitest movies ever,” says Emmanuel, 30, who is multiracial. “There weren’t many of us that you saw on screen in movies of that era.”
For Patel, 33, playing Kash feels like “a celebration” of his South Asian background. “It felt like something I didn’t know that I was missing until I had it,” he says. “It’s the first opportunity that I’ve had to get my teeth into a love story set now that has this range, depth, journey and all these different flavors to it.”
At the start of Hulu’s Four Weddings, Maya is grappling with the impact of her affair with her politician boss as she heads to London to celebrate her best friend Ainsley’s (Rebecca Rittenhouse) birthday, throwing her into the path of Kash. That chance encounter at Heathrow is a catalyst for a drastic decision that Kash — who Maya later realizes is actually dating Ainsley — makes at the end of the first episode.
“It places a lot of what he’s going through internally under a microscope,” Patel explains. Indeed, Kash is juggling his own set of struggles between his job, his relationship, and his familial duties. “His ownership and responsibility for his own actions is a huge part of his own story, and how it impacts other people,” he adds.
And Maya goes on her own journey of self-discovery. “She starts off high-flying, successful, and in love, and she loses all of it and then has to figure out what she wants and how she wants to get it,” Emmanuel says.
She adds that often in rom-coms, “the girls are always very perfect,” but Maya is successful, intelligent, and also a little messy. “That’s what makes her fun.”
While the series centers on Maya and Kash, it will also follow their group of thirtysomething friends navigating life-changing moments that are thrust upon them. There’s Duffy (John Reynolds), who’s hopelessly in love with Maya, and Craig (Brandon Mychal Smith), who makes a huge discovery in the first episode. Rittenhouse’s Ainsley encounters an unexpected change that forces her to reexamine her life and what she wants for herself. “What I really like about this show is that it’s very funny and sweet and light-hearted but it also does get very real and it examines what it means to have a relationship that lasts your entire life, what is that founded on — and I think Kash and Ainsley have to explore that,” Rittenhouse, 30, says. (Her arc also throws her into the path of Dermot Mulroney’s wealthy Texan bachelor).
“Anyone who’s seen a romantic comedy knows that things get complicated,” teases Rittenhouse.
Our hearts are ready for this romantic rollercoaster.
For more Summer TV scoop, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy your choice of two different Game of Thrones covers — Daenerys or the Starks — now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.