Catastrophe – Seasons 1-4

Rating:

Marriage, Family, Catastrophe. In no particular order

Main Cast: Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan

Creators: Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan

We all know that relationships are not for the timid. But some relationships call for a sterner constitution than others. Catastrophe, a British comedy starring creators Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, proves that even the most disastrous couples can be both fun and even occasionally functional.

Catastrophe stars Delaney as American advertising exec Rob and Horgan as Irish school teacher Sharon. They meet while Rob is traveling for business and have sex a large number of times in a few short days. That’s a rather blunt way to describe their early relationship, but if you’re going to watch this show you need to not only accept blunt, but revel in it. Anyway, Sharon gets pregnant and there we have the first catastrophe among many. MANY.

I wonder how many people will see themselves in at least one scene of Catastrophe. I think most of us. Because everyone is stupid or gross or awkward or weird sometimes. Sharon and Rob just happen to be all of those things most of the time. And they are hilarious. I don’t know how they got through a single scene without laughing. Their relationship is fraught with unforced errors but their chemistry on screen is so affable and true that we manage to like them in spite of themselves. This is a comedy about adults being ridiculous, so don’t be expecting a lot of highbrow humor. Do expect to be moved and entertained by how real these absurd people feel.

The twin foundations of Catastrophe are the scripts and performances of Horgan and Delaney. I can’t imagine anybody but them playing these characters they wrote. I can also picture them out of character sitting around in tears writing each bit of foul mouthed dialogue and every insane situation.  And yes, do be aware that there is foul language and sex aplenty.

The supporting cast also won me over and there are a whole lot of scene stealing moments. My favorite is Mark Bonnar as Chris, the husband of Sharon’s friend Fran (played with glee by Ashley Jensen). Chris spends a lot of time being a broody vaper, and Bonnar is a riot in this role. The whole cast looks like they love being in every scene, but he doles out his wisdom with a particular relish. Also deserving of special note is Jonathan Forbes as Sharon’s ne’er-do-well brother and the late Carrie Fisher as Rob’s acerbic mother. These are the characters that help us all understand how Sharon and Rob ended up…the way they are.

There are four seasons of Catastrophe (I watched them streaming on Amazon Prime Video) and each has its own pace and rhythm, but always coming back to the themes of marriage and family and the struggle to do either one of those things properly. It’s raunchy and the characters are flawed in a million ways, but the whole series is really endearing.  If you liked Fleabag, this is a good choice for you.

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