Filled with as many chase scenes as tacky gowns, creator Oliver Lyttleton’s Hulu series “Wedding Season” cleverly combines the rush of Hitchcockian “wrong man” yarns with a send-up of the Wedding Industrial Complex. It’s an unlikely match that reveals itself to be truly inspired, especially with the chemistry from its two leads on the run, played by Rosa Salazar and Gavin Drea. And amid a romp that involves a secret organization trying to kill them, “Wedding Season” zealously gives us a uniquely touching love story to boot.
Katie (Rosa Salazar) is having a wildly bad day at the beginning of “Wedding Season,” starting with a guy named Stefan (Drea) who interrupts her big ceremony and confesses his love. She screams in his face to get out, having been set on marrying a posh dude named Hugo Delaney (George Webster), marrying into their powerful family. But later on in the evening, something worse happens—eight Delaneys are fatally poisoned at the wedding, making her a key suspect. She instantly flees the scene, making her look even more guilty, and becomes the subject of pursuit by two top cops, Donahue (Jamie Michie) and Metts (Jade Harrison).
It turns out that Katie knows Stefan very well, at least from the three months they have been secretly seeing each other from the start of the wedding season. A big romantic fixated on one day having a ceremony of his own, Stefan became entangled with Katie in more innocent times. Or so he thought. They reunite when she suddenly breaks him out of police custody, in need of his help to find out who did the poisoning and to clear her name. Soon enough the two are standing on the police building’s rooftop, where she tries to convince him to take the big leap with her.
“Wedding Season” maneuvers its way to such winking rom-com-ready beats, and it does so sincerely with a light tone that's equally open to sudden murder or the snark of an observer drinking open-bar booze. Lyttleton's series deeply commits to its cute concept, finding different clever ways for various attended weddings from Katie's and Stefan's past to be key plot points or to weaponize mainstays like a wedding hashtag when things get dangerous.
And the production team has visible fun in imagining different theme gatherings—like one that takes place inside a drained swimming pool, odd—capturing the experience of going to an expensive but possibly ill-advised well-planned event. It’s more immediately relatable than the classic, elegant versions of this story, adding even more to the sweetness of seeing Katie and Stefan work together one ceremony at a time. They're trying to not get killed by the armed men who start stalking them, and among their frantic decisions, their bond is tested for what they know and trust about each other.
On the sidelines, for much of this are Stefan’s friends, who help fill in certain wedding guest archetypes. Suji (Ioanna Kimbrook) is the one who always seems to find themselves linking up with the most questionable prospects; Jackson (Omar Bound) usually knows someone who is in the party, or getting married; couple Anil (Bhav Joshi) and Leila (Callie Cooke) are next in line to be married shortly, with Anil fixated on planning every detail. These characters help ground the story and keep it within the cycle that gives the story its name. Unfortunately, their banter is also indicative of the show's weak humor, which can be stale with pop culture references or lazy quirkiness. Still, it's breezy fun to hang with them and everyone else in "Wedding Season" all the same.
For all the page-turner momentum that “Wedding Season” often achieves, sometimes it can be a bit overwrought with its reliance on flashbacks concerning Katie's past. Her story is almost too busy to achieve its poignant impact, especially when the plot organization reveals that Stefan does indeed know some about Katie’s elusive and sneaky ways, but is then perhaps too surprised when she shows up to break him out. The main motivation behind Katie’s actions is a little ham-fisted too, but it's also not the reason the show can be so binge-able.
While the conspiracy within “Wedding Season” is more and more convoluted as it's revealed, the writing here does fashion a very strong final episode that shows how fully formed and sharp the series' distinct language about weddings is. And it does so, naturally, outside a chapel. Lyttleton and his team also give us a solid cliffhanger of a final note, one that either hints that the series has more up its sleeves both with tone and mystery building, or that it’s not too precious with its various pieces should this be its only season (and we hope that it is not).
Without drawing much attention to it, "Wedding Season" becomes a welcome subversion to the usual gender roles for such a story, as Salazar is the international person of mystery at the driver’s wheel (unless she vanishes, as she sometimes does) and who in turn makes it a challenge to be loved. Salazar is a lot of fun to watch in this role, revealing each layer to her possible criminal whose actions and emotions are more complicated than they may seem. It’s an endearing performance that energizes the whole story, framing the existence of weddings, marriage, love, and all that stuff, as means for an adventure in more ways than one.
All eight episodes were screened for review. "Wedding Season" is now playing on Hulu.