Wedding Season, review: Disney+'s first UK original deserves to be jilted at the altar

The cast of Wedding Season - Disney+/Luke Varley
The cast of Wedding Season - Disney+/Luke Varley

Waking up the day after a friend’s wedding with a tequila-induced headache and a growing sense of dread is an all too familiar feeling. Now imagine that, only coupled with the news that you’re a wanted fugitive suspected of murdering the entire bridal party – except the bride, that is, who you happen to be in love with – and you’ll start to understand why Wedding Season’s (Disney+) protagonist, Stefan, is having such a rough time.

The show - Disney+’s first UK original - follows unlucky-in-love doctor (Gavin Drea) as he and his university friends attend a series of disastrous ceremonies, months before the grizzly events described above: at one, he gets down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend and is swiftly rejected, decides to take some drugs to block out the heartbreak, then is forced to resuscitate an elderly guest on the dancefloor by slicing her chest open with a blunt knife. Weddings, eh?

Then, we see another bride jilted at the altar, where she cries for a few minutes before forgetting her woes in the bottom of a bottle of wine. One has to question what kind of weddings that screenwriter Oliver Lyttelton (Cheaters) has been attending to gain inspiration; although he’s bang on that the millennial generation’s only financial guarantee is that you’ll spend too much money each summer schlepping to other people’s nuptials.

Stefan is obviously made of romantic stuff, because at one such car-crash ceremony, he falls in love with Katie (Rosa Salazar), the American bride who is unlucky enough to have her husband, in-laws and other family members mysteriously poisoned at her reception. The rest of the series follows the pair as they travel from Manchester to Scotland, then back again, to try to evade the police, while we viewers try to figure out who actually committed the crime – making it all seem very Red Wedding meets Bonnie and Clyde. We’re also shown frequent flashbacks to the beginnings of their affair, when we learn that they have a magical knack for bumping into each other at parties.

Gavin Drea and Rosa Salazar as Stefan and Katie - Disney+/Luke Varley
Gavin Drea and Rosa Salazar as Stefan and Katie - Disney+/Luke Varley

Stefan, soppy and devoted as he is, is meant to come across as the genuine one in the relationship; Katie as the sneaky troublemaker merely using him for her own gain. But neither Drea nor Salazar is all that convincing, and the lack of chemistry between the two is the series’ main shortcoming. It’s a much better show in the moments that focus on Stefan’s friendship group and their well-rehearsed, affectionate banter.

During these scenes, it brings to mind the tenderness of the Jack Whitehall student comedy Fresh Meat – perhaps that show’s influence was the inspiration to set Wedding Season in Manchester, albeit with a cast made up of Scots, Irish, Americans and Essex-men. Either that, or he got the memo that every TV show that wants to feature a policeman simply must be filmed in the North West.

Caught up between being a light-hearted comedy and a crime romp, the show never really figures out what it’s supposed to be, or who it’s for. When compared with Disney+’s other genre-melding murder-mystery comedy-drama, the brilliant Only Murders in the Building, which has a supply of genuine laughs for every ounce of suspense, it falls especially flat.