Hulu has another entry into the genre with Wedding Season, starring Gavin Drea and Rosa Salazar.
It’s Salazar that has my attention. The Peruvian and French-Canadian actress recently starred in the second season of Amazon’s Undone, and with Wedding Season, she’s proving her pension for selecting boundary-pushing characters.
As Katie McConnell, Salazar is funny, mysterious, cruel, sexy, and likable. It’s an unusual combination, especially for a woman and a Latina at that—although her character has a white dad, it’s unclear what her mother’s lineage might be.
Racial and ethnic background aside, the mysterious part of her character is on account of the show’s narration told mainly from her lover’s point of view—and I use “lover” here because there’s no masculine term for “mistress.” If there were, it’d be the word for Drea’s Stefan Bridges, who Katie sleeps with shortly after meeting, though she’s engaged to someone else. Still, she will not let a side piece keep her from becoming a legal part of the rich Delaney family.
When the other eight members of the wedding party, including the groom, are murdered at the reception, Katie takes off running. Of course, Stefan is a suspect too, and when she springs him from police custody, he believes her assertion that she’s not a mass murderer.
But what did happen? And who all is after our leading pair other than the police?
Wedding Season’s eight episodes (seven screened for review) unfold as a dark-comedy romp, allowing Katie to retain much of her mystery until close to the end.
Not everything makes sense: Katie trusts no one until the plot needs her to make a mistake to move its characters along. The show takes great pains to show that each time the characters use their credit cards, the police track and find them, but then dispenses with that whole conceit when Katie and Stefan need cool disguises to go on their next caper. Where did they get them? Make it make sense.
But while some details do not add up, Wedding Season is a hell of a lot of fun with chases, high-stakes gambling, accents, revenge, bondage, crimes bosses, and more. It basically has everything you could want in an adventure caper. And while films like Ocean’s 8 have put women at the center of such plots, Wedding Season pushes it further by asking us to sympathize with Katie, even if she may turn out to be the “bad guy.”
Without spoiling anything, I can say she’s morally compromised but as relatable as someone in such an extreme position can be. The costuming telegraphs this beautifully: When out on official-Delaney family functions, she wears impractical colter, telegraphing her wealth, artistic point of view, and position as a bird in a gilded cage. When planning to be with Stefan alone, she wears a shiny, sexy dress, daring us to look but also reflecting light and focus away from her. On the run, she’s in a practical red hoodie and jeans. And in her final form, we see her in a wig and black pants suit, appearing as either a spy, an assassin, or both, depending on how sympathetic you find her.
Costuming was big in Killing Eve, too, and there’s a gendered dynamic in that, portraying the way people —including murderers!— communicate differently depending upon their identities.
The nature of the violence is different, too. In real life, men are more successful at committing suicide because they use guns, while women tend to use slower methods like poisoning that allow for intervention. We see that here, too: The wedding party was poisoned, suggesting a potential female killer. And while there’s plenty of other violence, the traditional pummeling generally occurs to the male characters, although Katie does get in at least one pulse-racing hand-to-hand combat sequence.
The fact that she exists at all and the show asks us to root for her, a Latina cheater/striver, is pretty remarkable. It wasn’t that long ago that women in these types of shows were stuck in the spoiler roles, playing the Skylers to the Walter Whites. But in Wedding Season, Katie is the dynamic, fraught, compelling one, while Stefan serves as the moral compass. It’s a nice role reversal, and it makes for compelling TV.
All eight episodes of Wedding Season premiere on Hulu Thursday, September 8.
A writer and activist, Cristina Escobar is the co-founder of latinamedia.co, uplifting Latina and gender non-conforming Latinx perspectives in media. She’s a member of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association and writes at the intersection of race, gender, and pop culture. Twitter: @cescobarandrade