The American Girl
In the throngs of London’s Heathrow Airport, a twist of fate leads an American girl to a British boy and jolts them into a new trajectory. This summer, Hulu’s new 10-episode limited series Four Weddings and a Funeral — co-created by Mindy Kaling and inspired by the 1994 film starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell — revives and redefines a traditional romantic comedy in a new format for a new generation with entirely new characters. (Read our Four Weddings First Look story here).
Meet Maya (Nathalie Emmanuel). She’s bright, sophisticated, living in New York City and working as a communications director to a politician running for senate. The only hiccup in her seemingly perfect life? She’s having an affair with her boss.
When Maya temporarily escapes for the weekend to London for her best friend Ainsley’s birthday, little does she know her life is about to change.
“The thing I like about Maya is that she’s a cool girl,” says Emmanuel. “She’s smart, successful, savvy and confident but she’s also messy, she doesn’t always get it right and she can have good intentions in the world but she makes mistakes and has to figure things out like we all do and I think that makes her more relatable.”
The English Boy
A handsome, successful London investment banker, Kash (Nikesh Patel) seems to have his life on track. But under the surface, there’s a thread of conflict brewing that causes Kash to make some drastic decisions.
“You get a sense in the first episode that he’s covering up on a few different fronts and that actually, he’s going to get pulled apart at the seams a little bit and sometimes that’s not going to be pretty and maybe some hilarity will ensue,” Patel says.
Aren’t lost bags just the worst? As Maya tries to locate her missing luggage at London’s Heathrow Airport, she bumps into Kash, who just so happens to be the son of the airport worker attempting to help Maya.
Kash begrudgingly helps his father by taking Maya to locate her lost bags. The two strangers find themselves connecting.
“At the heart of a lot of romantic comedies, there’s an ideal of what romantic love is and I think most good romantic comedies really wrestle with that and grapple with it and show that sometimes ideals have to be compromised, or at the very least it’s not smooth sailing,” Patel teases about Maya and Kash’s journey.
Sparks Fly in Lost Luggage
Sitting amongst the lost luggage racks, it doesn’t take long for Kash and Maya to share honest truths about themselves with each other and find common ground. The chance encounter impacts them both deeply, and is a catalyst for a drastic decision that Kash makes at the end of the first episode.
“[Because] it’s a once in a blue moon, we’re-never-going-to-see-each-other situation, they’re able to open up to each other and share something about themselves that they don’t think is going to have any ramifications,” Patel says.
“We get a very early sense that despite Kash on the surface being functional and put together and high-achieving, what he confides to Maya is that actually, there’s a lot more going on underneath,” he adds.
Girls Forever, Boys Whatever
What would any romantic comedy heroine do without her best friend? As Maya’s affair with her boss gets very complicated and causes her to consider her options, luckily she has her bestie Ainsley (Rebecca Rittenhouse) waiting to receive her in London (with an homage to Love Actually thrown in).
“A lot of the series centers around Maya and Ainsley’s friendship and how it develops and changes,” Rittenhouse says.
A little backstory: Maya, Ainsley and their two other American friends Craig (Brandon Mychal Smith) and Duffy (John Reynolds) bonded on a semester abroad in London during their college years. While Maya moved to New York after college, the other three returned to London, where they’ve established successful lives and careers and constantly urge Maya to join them.
An Eye for Design
The stylish Ainsley has established herself as a successful interior designer and when her personal life is rocked, she turns to her work.
“Her arc overall has a lot to do with figuring out what she really wants and what’s important to her compared to what she’s been told to want by society and her parents,” Rittenhouse says.
And turns out, work is just what the love doctor ordered as it leads Ainsley to a new love interest…
The Birthday Party
At Ainsley’s movie-themed costume birthday party, Maya discovers that the handsome stranger she connected with at the airport happens to actually be Ainsley’s boyfriend. Kash and Maya pretend not to know each other as they are introduced, but both know that a connection has been forged. The only question is how will they both deal with it?
“Sometimes if you’re having feelings or an attraction to [someone] and you’re already in a relationship, often that says more about the relationship and your feelings about that relationship than about the actual attraction itself with another person,” Emmanuel says. “[Kash and Maya] get thrown together no matter how much they try and avoid each other, and that chemistry and attraction grows even though they try to avoid it.”
A Bombshell Discovery
Wealthy, successful and optimistic, Craig is excited as he asks his trophy girlfriend Zara to move in with him. But he suddenly finds his life rocked by a revelation and turns to Maya for advice.
Hopelessly in love with Maya, Duffy attempts to share his true feelings with her on the night of Ainsley’s party. Dressed as John Cusack’s Lloyd from Cameron Crowe’s 1989 teen romance Say Anything, Duffy waits for hours outside, hoping Maya will come to him.
The Texan Bachelor
Dermot Mulroney makes his return to romantic comedies as Bryce Dylan, a gruff, divorced, “super rich” bachelor from Texas who moves to London for work and finds himself to be a bit of a “fish out of water,” Mulroney said.
Luckily, it throws him into the path of Ainsley, who he hires to decorate his bachelor pad. “She’s stumbled through some romantic travails and we … wind up being good for each other against the certain odds,” he teased.